Monday 25 March 2019

TUSLA 'satisfied' Scouting Ireland making progress towards child protection recommendations

Ian Elliott: Scouting Ireland’s interim safe-guarding manager
Ian Elliott: Scouting Ireland’s interim safe-guarding manager
Katherine Zappone has raised concerns about child protection procedures at Scouting Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

The child and family agency TUSLA says it is "satisfied" Scouting Ireland are making progress towards addressing their recommendations.

Last month, the agency raised concerns around supervision standards on overnight trips, and the youth organisation’s compliance with child-protection legislation.

Tusla has said the recommendations it has made – including reconsidering running overnight jamborees – stands.

The agency were asked to respond to the announcement by Scouting Ireland that Gearoid Begley, currently Deputy Superintendent in the Criminal Assets Bureau, has been appointed as their new safeguarding manager. He will take up his new role on April 8.

Katherine Zappone has raised concerns about child protection procedures at Scouting Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)
Katherine Zappone has raised concerns about child protection procedures at Scouting Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

The child and family agency said that it is satisfied progress is being made towards addressing the recommendations it made.

The agency has had two meetings in recent days with Scouting Ireland, including one yesterday.

“Following a productive meeting with Scouting Ireland last Thursday and another positive meeting [on Thursday], Tusla is satisfied that progress is being made towards addressing the recommendations through an agreed action plan,” a spokeswoman said, adding that a further update on the action plan will be available in due course.

The organisation's new safeguarding manager Gearoid Begley spent the majority of his career investigating serious crime, including sexual crime. 

He was the Detective Superintendent in the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit, now the Garda National Protective Services Bureau.

In that role Gearoid was the Child Protection Officer for An Garda Síochána and was involved in the development of the model of the Divisional Protective Services Units which is currently being rolled out in An Garda Síochána. While in that position he worked closely with State Agencies and non-Governmental organisations in the sector.

Since 2015 he has worked in the Criminal Assets Bureau as the Assistant Chief Bureau Officer.

Adrian Tennant, Chair of the Board of Scouting Ireland said: “We are delighted that Gearoid Begley is joining Scouting Ireland as Safeguarding Manager.  He will work closely with the CEO and the relevant statutory authorities in Ireland and Northern Ireland, to ensure that Scouting Ireland continues to implement best practice in safeguarding.”

Gearoid Begley, incoming Safeguarding Manager, Scouting Ireland said: “Scouting Ireland is a child centred organisation playing a hugely important role in communities throughout Ireland. I was very impressed with the absolute commitment to safeguarding from volunteers and staff and the dedication of the professional safeguarding team.

“Extensive work has been undertaken under the guidance of Ian Elliott and I look forward to continuing to advance safeguarding and ensuring Scouting Ireland continues to be a safe organisation for all its members, volunteers and staff.”

John Lawlor, CEO, Scouting Ireland said; “Scouting Ireland has declared its intent to become a centre of excellence for safeguarding and putting children first and I look forward to working with Gearoid Begley on achieving this very important objective.

“His reputation is exemplary and his seniority and experience in the area of Children First and in dealing with sexual abuse will be of critical importance to the management team and the Board of Scouting Ireland.”

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