Clarity needed from Government on Scouting Ireland

28 February 2019

Speaking in response to the remarks of Minister Katherine Zappone and Tánaiste Simon Coveney in relation to Scouting Ireland, leader of the Labour Party, Brendan Howlin TD, says that the Government need to provide clarity on a matter that is of concern to thousands of parents.

Deputy Howlin said:

“I asked the Government a simple question today, which is whether they have announced anything new in relation to Scouting Ireland.

“Minister Katherine Zappone and Tánaiste Simon Coveney have both read out a letter from TUSLA to the CEO of Scouting Ireland, but they have not providing any clarity about the context of that letter, or what they are implying by doing so.

“Child protection is of paramount importance. And Scouting Ireland, along with many other voluntary organisations across the country, has greatly improved their child protection procedures and practice in recent years.

“What is not clear is whether the TUSLA letter is informing us of a new problem, or is it simply a window into a process of review and improvement within Scouting Ireland that has been ongoing for many months.

“In July 2017, Scouting Ireland commissioned a review of the handling of child protection cases and they have been implementing changes, led by a safeguarding expert who is beyond reproach in this issue. Throughout this process, Scouting Ireland’s staff have been engaging with TUSLA and the Gardaí.

“Remarks from the Government have caused great concern and anxiety for scouting families and volunteers, and we need to give them reassurance and clear information.

“The Government needs to give a full statement to set out the nature of the Government’s concerns, if any, in relation to the ongoing process of reform within Scouting Ireland, and inform us if any new or recent information has now come to light.”

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