Dundalk man Peter Dixon, who has been involved in scouting at a national level for 45 years, has welcomed the beginning of a new era in Irish scouting history with the formation of Scouting Ireland, the new single all-Ireland scout association.Mr Dixon is Chief Scout of Scouting Ireland CSI, only the second holder of the office outside of Dublin, which has merged with Scoutiby Jim Smyth
Dundalk man Peter Dixon, who has been involved in scouting at a national level for 45 years, has welcomed the beginning of a new era in Irish scouting history with the formation of Scouting Ireland, the new single all-Ireland scout association.
Mr Dixon is Chief Scout of Scouting Ireland CSI, only the second holder of the office outside of Dublin, which has merged with Scouting Ireland (SAI) to form a multi-denominational, co-educational, non-political association with a membership of almost 40,000 nationwide.
Scouting Ireland (SAI) began in 1908, when it was perceived as predominantly Protestant. Scouting Ireland (CSI) was established in 1927 as the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland and operated under the auspices of the Catholic bishops.
However, relations between both had been excellent for decades and in May 1998 formal negotiations on a merger began.
Coincidentally, it was at that time that Mr Dixon took over as Chief Scout (CSI), a role he greatly enjoyed, even if it was a very demanding one at times.
He explained that each association appointed members to a joint steering committee to look into the process of the merger, and it was when these findings came before the CSI board that he helped steer it through.
“Thankfully the decision was made (in favour of the merger), and from my trips around the country over the last few months the feeling I got was of a great air of acceptance all round,” said Mr Dixon.
He added that he was for the merger, saying “what was suitable for us 70 years ago isn’t necessarily suitable for young people to-day, and it (scouting) is all about young people.”
Mr Dixon felt that the merger makes a lot of sense as they were both doing very much the same things for their members, although at times members on both sides had reservations about it, but then began to mellow on the idea as time went on.
His term as Chief Scout (CSI) was due to end next May, but he has now stepped out from that position as an interim overall Chief Scout has been appointed until the formal elections take place in October.
But Mr Dixon is content to step into the background as the processing of the merger unfolds, but he will still be involved in a number of sub-committees as it will take time for all the legislation involved to be straightened out.
He added that the public wouldn’t see any great changes until about two years hence when the new uniform and new flag are unveiled.
“I am happy to have been part of what has happened, and I look forward with confidence for scouting in Ireland. I wish it well, and any help I can, I will give it,” said Mr Dixon.
He wouldn’t be applying for the post as the Chief Scout of the new body as he felt it should be filled by somebody with the health, strength and stamina to guide the new association forward, but looking back as his own term as Chief Scout of the CSI, he hoped that in his epitaph it could be said “he did his best.”
The formal opening ceremony of Scouting Ireland will take place on January 31st at the association’s Larch Hill campsite and administrative centre in Dublin.