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Sunday 22 September 2019

Tusla has yet to speak to scouting staff about claims

Ian Elliott: Scouting Ireland’s interim safe-guarding manager
Ian Elliott: Scouting Ireland’s interim safe-guarding manager
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Scouting Ireland said its staff or case records have "not been interrogated" about allegations it is mishandling complaints about historical abuse at the organisation.

It said that gardaí and Tusla have yet to speak with Scouting Ireland staff about the concerns surrounding the safeguarding of children and its responses to disclosures made to a victim helpline.

It comes as the child and family agency agreed an action plan with scouting officials to address child safety concerns and management of the abuse allegations.

Both organisations appeared yesterday at the Oireachtas Children's Committee, where Scouting Ireland officials launched a robust defence of the organisation's handling of the issue.

Last month Tusla wrote to Scouting Ireland outlining a number of concerns it had about the handling of cases of alleged abuse.

It recommended changes to how children are supervised, reconsidering running overnight jamborees and an urgent review of the manner in which Scouting Ireland is managing disclosures about child protection concerns.

Yesterday Scouting Ireland's interim safeguarding manager, Ian Elliott, said the basis of Tusla's concerns about disclosures was limited and based on referral forms instead of detailed case files.

"My difficulty, and that of my colleagues, is trying to understand what is happening here," Mr Elliott said.

"If you are going to criticise an individual then you need to have some evidence. You need to examine the case record or talk to the individuals involved in the practice.

"None of that happened. All of the criticism related to practice here appears to be based on the content of the referral forms that were sent to the statutory agencies. No case record has been examined and no member of staff has been interviewed."

Tusla officials told the committee it had not intended for the letter sent to Scouting Ireland on February 18 to make its way in to the public domain.

It was made public after Children's Minister Katherine Zappone read it into the Dáil record to make parents aware of Tusla's concerns.

The letter outlined eight recommendations to address the alleged abuse and these have formed part of the new action plan. Scouting Ireland said it was working to improve its safeguarding measures and will continue to engage with Tusla.

Irish Independent

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