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'Voting me chair was the wrong decision' - chief scout steps aside

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Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone and (inset), chief scout Christy McCann who has   decided not to chair the organisation’s upcoming emergency general meeting

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone and (inset), chief scout Christy McCann who has decided not to chair the organisation’s upcoming emergency general meeting

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone and (inset), chief scout Christy McCann who has decided not to chair the organisation’s upcoming emergency general meeting

Scouting Ireland's chief scout Christy McCann, who has been accused of mishandling a rape allegation, has decided not to chair the organisation's upcoming emergency general meeting.

It came a day after Children's Minister Katherine Zappone suspended all State funding for the organisation.

Mr McCann said yesterday the board made the "wrong decision" voting him as chairman.

He acknowledged it was possible he had mishandled a 2016 rape allegation in the organisation.

Mr McCann is one of four volunteers under investigation over Scouting Ireland's handling of a 2016 rape allegation.

He had stepped aside in April pending the findings of the inquiry.

Appalled

Ms Zappone said on Thursday she received correspondence from the interim chair of the board, Annette Byrne, and from child safeguarding expert Ian Elliott, which caused her "grave concern".

The minister said Mr Elliott was "appalled" by last Saturday's decision to reinstate Mr McCann as chair and said he pointed out his "strong view that bad governance generates risk to young people".

"It is plainly wrong that any publicly funded youth organisation would be led by directors who do not put the interests and safety of young people to the fore," she said.

Ms Zappone said funding would be suspended for as long as the current board of directors remains in place.

Speaking to RTE Radio One's Today With Sean O'Rourke, Mr McCann said the minister's decision to withdraw funding was "disappointing", but acknowledged it was not a good decision for him to chair the board.

He said it was "not the best solution" given the current difficulties.

"I shouldn't chair the board. Things are too raw. The optics would be incorrect," Mr McCann said.

"I haven't had the opportunity to tell them I shouldn't chair the board, but I will notify [the board]."

Mr McCann said he has signed a letter of resignation from the board and will follow through with that if the board does stand down at its next meeting on September 30.

He was happy to stand aside and await the outcome of an ongoing review into him and three other senior volunteers over the organisation's handling of a rape allegation by an 18-year-old in 2016.

Mr McCann said he welcomed the introduction of new governance procedures as "there is no guidelines or rulebook" to deal with this type of matter.

He admitted that it was possible that "with the best of intentions" he may have mishandled the situation, adding: "Nobody's perfect, people make mistakes."


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