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Scouting Ireland has done ‘significant work’ on governance deficits
Scouting jamboree at Punchestown, Co Kildare Pic: RollingNews.ie

12 May 2020 / iRELAND Print

Scouting Ireland has done ‘significant work’ on deficits

Scouting Ireland has made satisfactory changes to its governance structure in the wake of complaints of safeguarding problems.

That’s the conclusion of a review of the organisation commissioned by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

Scouting Ireland has 13,500 adult volunteers, leading 40,000 youth members in over 500 communities across the country.

The report’s author Brigid McManus, former Secretary General of the Department of Education and Skills, says that Scouting Ireland has taken a “reasonable approach” to addressing the issues identified in a 2018 report, which criticised the organisation for governance failures.

'Conflict of interest'

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone subsequently suspended all funding to Scouting Ireland, in September 2018.

The author of the original report, Jill Van Turnout, stepped aside from undertaking the follow-up review after an issue was raised by someone in Scouting Ireland regarding a potential conflict of interest.

In January, Jill Van Turnout said in a statement on her website that, having considered the matter carefully, she was satisfied that there was no conflict of interest.

However, Van Turnout said that, regardless of the validity of a perception of conflict of interest, and given the pressing need to complete the governance review, she had asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to appoint a different independent expert to undertake the work.

'Huge time and effort'

The new appointee, Brigid McManus, has now said that Scouting Ireland has effected major changes in its governance structures since 2018, acknowledging significant work and organisational effort by all involved in Scouting Ireland.

“It is clear from reviewing the documentation and from my discussions, the huge time and effort the new board, supported by the executive team and others, has invested in delivering significant changes to the governance and organisational structure, while also dealing with other pressing and difficult issues for Scouting Ireland,” she writes.

Progress reports

Scouting Ireland has provided regular progress reports on implementing the 2018 report recommendations.

However, McManus said further clarity was needed on the governance relationship between Scouting Ireland and the related trusts that hold scouting property, and the Scout Shop.

“The remaining changes to the governance structure need to be delivered in a timely fashion, and the governance and organisational changes made need to continue to be consolidated, developed and embedded,” the latest report says.

Scouting Ireland leadership says it recognises this and will report in another six months on the delivery of planned governance and organisational changes, the report says. 

External review

The organisation will undertake an external review of its safeguarding arrangements at the end of 2020, and a three-year review of its new governance arrangements, in late 2021.

It is intended that the new structures will maximise the contribution from the talents and expertise of volunteers and fulltime staff, while also delivering clarity of accountability.

Fully compliant

In its March 2019 report, Scouting Ireland stated it was on track to be fully compliant with the Governance Code for Voluntary Organisations (and, therefore, the Charities Governance Code) by Q1 2020.

In the October 2019 report, it committed to being compliant with the Code of Governance for the Community and Voluntary Sector ‘Type C’ organisations by December 2019, and with the Charities Governance Code by the end of 2020.

The current intention is to be compliant with both by the end of this year.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland