Thursday 21 June 2018

Taoiseach voices concern after scouting leader accused of rape reinstated without vetting

Leo Varadkar. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
Leo Varadkar. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

David Raleigh

THE Taoiseach has backed Children's Minister Katherine Zappone's decision to suspend funding for Scouting Ireland.

Concerns have been raised about its handling of a complaint of rape against one of its senior officials.

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

Leo Varadkar said Scouting Ireland's handling of an allegation made by a female scout leader about a rape during a scout camping trip was a "concern".

He acknowledged the Government had only been made aware of the issues "in the last day or two". Speaking in Limerick

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone yesterday, the Taoiseach said: "We only found out in the last day or two that that person was reinstated without Garda vetting and indeed perhaps even promoted. Of course that causes concern."

Scouting Ireland received Government funding of 876,337 last year. Since 2010, the Government has assisted it to the tune of more than 9m.

Many in the organisation - which has 40,000 juvenile members - have been rocked by the controversy.

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.

The Taoiseach added: "Minister Zappone has taken the decision to suspend funding for Scouting Ireland until we can really get the facts. I think that's an appropriate decision and swift action by her."

Earlier Ms Zappone said she had "grave questions in relation to the governance of the organisation".

Scouting Ireland said that an external review was being carried out into the handling of a complaint made by an adult volunteer in 2015.

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