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Tuesday 17 July 2018

Head of Scouting Ireland to step aside over handling of rape allegation

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Frank Mc Grath Newsdesk Newsdesk

THE head of Scouting Ireland is to step aside pending the completion of an independent investigation into the organisation's handling of an allegation of rape.

Chief Scout Christy McCann is to step aside from this evening, Children's Minister Katherine Zappone told the Dáil today.

Concerns have been raised about Scouting Ireland's handling of a complaint of rape in 2016 against one of its officials. A female scout leader had claimed she was raped seven years previously.

The alleged male offender was suspended during the investigation and was reinstated last year after the Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to proceed with the case.

In a report into the handling of the allegation, child safeguarding expert Ian Elliot said Mr McCann held a meeting in January 2017 with the leader accused of rape while that person was under suspension.

Mr Elliot said this showed a blatant disregard for safeguarding policies.

State funding of nearly €1m a year is to be withheld until concerns surrounding governance issues are resolved.

Ms Zappone is to meet with Scouting Ireland this evening.

"As of now, I am not satisfied. And I have a responsibility to children and I have a responsibility for the use of public monies," she told the Dáil.

"I have been informed that the chief scout will be stepping aside from this evening, pending the completion of the independent investigation and the treasurer will serve as acting chair of the board in his absence," the minister said.

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