|Country||Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland|
|Founded||1 January 2004|
|Founder||Richard P. Fortune (1908), Tom and Ernest Farrell (1927)|
|Membership||50,336 as of February 2019[update]|
incl. 38,000 juvenile
|Chief Scout||(vacant) |
|Chief Executive||Anne Griffin[update]|
|Patron||Michael D. Higgins|
|Affiliation||World Organization of the Scout Movement|
Neckerchiefs are used to identify Scouts from different groups, e.g. one group might wear blue and red, while another might wear yellow and blue.
Scouting Ireland (Irish: Gasóga na hÉireann) is one of the largest youth movements on the island of Ireland, a voluntary educational movement for young people with over 53,000 members, including over 13,000 adult volunteers early 2019[update]. Of the 750,000 people between the ages of 6 and 18 in Ireland, over 6% are involved with the organisation. It was founded in 2004, following the amalgamation of two of the Scouting organisations on the island. It is the World Organization of the Scout Movement-recognised Scouting association in the Republic of Ireland. In Northern Ireland it operates alongside The Scout Association of the UK and the Baden-Powell Scout Association.
The organisation is independent, non-political, and open to all young people without distinction of origin, race, creed, sexual orientation, spiritual belief or gender, in accordance with the purpose, principles and method conceived by Lord Baden-Powell and as stated by WOSM. The aim of the organisation is to encourage the social, physical, intellectual, character, emotional, and spiritual development aspects (known as the SPICES) of young people "so that they may achieve their full potential and as responsible citizens, to improve society". The process of founding the new organisation came on 21 June 2003, after a merger between Scouting Ireland C.S.I. and Scouting Ireland S.A.I. was announced, becoming effective on 1 January 2004. Its national office is at Larch Hill, County Dublin.
The association is headed by the Chief Scout, and governed by the National Council and the Board of Directors. A small professional staff team is led by a Chief Executive Officer.
The organisation is known for, and primarily operates through, its Youth Programme, for members aged between 6 and 25 years, divided into the following Sections:
- Beaver Scouts – Ages 6–8
- Cub Scouts – Ages 9–11
- Scouts – Ages 12–15
- Venture Scouts – Ages 15–17
- Rover Scouts – Ages 18–26
Sea Scouts – Sea Scouting is a model for implementing the Scout Method with an emphasis on maritime tradition, nautical skills and water-based activities. Sea Scouting operates throughout the sections, consistent with the above age ranges.
The basic unit of Scouting in Ireland is the Scout Group. Each Group is based around a single meeting point, often a dedicated Scout den but sometimes a school assembly hall or community facility, but may have a number of sections, meeting at different times, and may have more than one Scout Troop or Cub Scout Pack, for example. Each Group is coordinated by a Scout Group Council, headed up by the Group Leader and Deputy Group Leader, these roles being appointed by the Chief Commissioner (Adult Resources) based on nomination by the Scout Group Council and recommendation by the relevant Scout County Commissioner. Membership also includes roles such as Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer and Quartermaster, and adult representatives of all sections, and youth representatives of the Scouts, Venture Scout and Rover Scout sections, made by the Scout Group Council itself. As of 2018[update], there are around 520 Scout Groups.
Scout Groups are members of their local Scout County, some are which based on geographical counties, while others, depending on membership density, are based in parts of cities or across county boundaries. The Scout County supports the training of Scouters, the youth programme, and the development of Groups within the county. Each Scout County is coordinated by a County Commissioner.
Above the Scout County level, Ireland is divided into six Scout Provinces, namely the Northern, Southern, North Eastern, South Eastern, Western and Dublin provinces. Each Province is coordinated by a Provincial Commissioner, who in turn appoints a Training Co-Ordinator as well as Youth Programme and International representatives. The Provincial Management / Support Committee consists of County Commissioners, Provincial Officers, co-ordinators and representatives. Each Province has a professional Provincial Support Officer.
The primary decision-making body of Scouting Ireland is called National Council, and it meets at least once a year. National Council is the body responsible for amendments to the movement's Rules and Constitution. It also elects the Chief Scout and members of the Board of Directors.
Board of Directors
The Board of Directors is the non-executive oversight body between National Councils. From 2018, it consists of 10 elected members, and up to 3 co-opted members. It receives reports from Heads of Department and has the authority to create structures and appoint heads for those structures.
National Management Committee
From June 2003 until October 2018, the National Management Committee (NMC) was the executive body which guided the association between National Council meetings. It made decisions relating to policies and strategies, and their implementation on behalf of National Council. The NMC, which included National and Provincial Commissioners, also handled representation of the organisation both nationally and internationally. The NMC also drove development of both the youth programme and materials to support the management of adult members and other supporters.
The NMC had the same membership as the Board of the not-for-profit company acting for Scouting Ireland when appropriate. As of 2020[update] the association is in the process of merging with the company with the Board of Directors at the helm.
The leader of the overall organization is the Chief Scout, who is its leading volunteer and public representative, chairs National Council and other bodies, and makes key awards. The Chief reports to the Board of Directors.
The first Chief Scout elected was Martin Burbridge, the former National Treasurer of Scouting Ireland (CSI). He was re-elected at National Council in 2007 for a second term which was due to end in 2010. For personal reasons Burbridge announced his resignation in August 2008, and the NMC elected Michael John Shinnick, the then Chief Commissioner for Adult Resources, as SI's second Chief Scout in September 2008. He was elected by National Council in March 2009, and again in 2012, for a term to end in 2015. Christy McCann was elected as SI's third Chief Scout in September 2015. McCann was elected unopposed for a second term in April 2018, serving until February 2021.
Youth participation in governance
A National Youth Forum is held each year with representatives from the Scout, Venture Scout and Rover Scout sections. Representatives debate motions relating to the running of the association and their own sections. Successful motions are carried forward to the relevant national bodies, including National Council. Each forum elects 5 representatives who then represent the interests of youth members on various committees throughout their term of office (generally one year).
Other national committees
National groups include the National Youth Programme Committee and the National Adult Resources Committee.
A staff of administrative and support professionals are led by Scouting Ireland's Chief Executive Officer, Anne Griffin, based in the National Office at the Larch Hill campsite.
Scouting Ireland has its history in two legacy Scouting organisations — the Scout Association of Ireland (SAI), formerly known as the Boy Scouts of Ireland, and the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland (CBSI). The former traces its roots to 1908, and the latter was founded in 1927 – both trace their legacy to Lord Baden-Powell's Scout Movement.
By 1908, the influence of Baden-Powell's Scout Movement had spread from Great Britain to Ireland. The first recorded meeting of Scouts in Ireland took place at the home of Richard P. Fortune, a Royal Naval Volunteer Reservist, at 3 Dame Street, Dublin on 15 February 1908 where four boys were enrolled in the Wolf Patrol of the 1st Dublin Troop. The earliest known Scouting event in Ireland took place in the Phoenix Park in 1908 with members of the Dublin City Boy Scouts (later Scouting Ireland S.A.I.) taking part.
Because of the impacts to available adult leadership, the coming of the Great War in 1914 could have affected the viability of Scouting in Ireland. Scouts contributed to the war effort in several ways, with the Sea Scouts supporting the RN Coastguard.
In Dublin in the 1920s, two Roman Catholic priests, Fathers Tom and Ernest Farrell, followed the progress of Scouting. They noted that in other countries, the Catholic Church had taken up the idea of Scouting as a means of imprinting a Catholic ethos on young people. After some study and experimentation, they made a proposal to the Catholic Hierarchy of Ireland and were granted a constitution and Episcopal patronage in November 1926. Thus, the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland (CBSI) (Gasóga Catoilici na hÉireann) was created. CBSI would later become the largest Scout association on the island.
Although the two associations cooperated, particularly in international contexts, these two separate Scouting organisations (SAI and the much larger CBSI) operated as separate entities through the latter half of the 20th century.
On 1 January 2004, the two organisations were merged to form 'Scouting Ireland'. Each organisation had added 'Scouting Ireland' to their names in the decade before the merger. The merger was sanctioned in May 2003, when both associations agreed to join together to form a new single association. This in turn had followed from decisions in 1998 to set this process in motion.
As of February 2019[update], Scouting Ireland had over 50,000 members across the island of Ireland, including Northern Ireland, where it works in tandem with the Scout Association in Northern Ireland (SANI), which is part of The Scout Association in the United Kingdom. Over 38,000 were juvenile members, and 12,000 adult volunteers.
Controversies, 2017- present
Safeguarding issues resulted in controversy in 2017 and 2018, though the organisation and individual Scout Groups emphasised that operations continued as usual.
In July 2017, Scouting Ireland commissioned a review of the handling of child protection cases, which included an initial check on a small sample of more serious allegations. Arising from this review, led by safeguarding specialist Ian Elliott, a recommendation was made in November 2017 that the files on all historic cases of alleged abuse be further checked, in particular to understand if persons against whom allegations were made were still active in the organisation. The review did not make any assessment of allegations, major or minor, but noted areas for improvement in handling such cases, such as "without prejudice" suspensions instead of the then-operational "voluntary stepping aside" approach, and a recommendation against lobbying by accusees, which it concluded was happening in some cases. It was also reported that there were sometimes tensions between professional staff and volunteers, with the former feeling pressure from volunteers, while some volunteers perceived "heavy-handed" treatment of some allegations.
The organisation made changes to its processes in response to the work of Elliott, including implementation of the “suspension without prejudice” concept, pending investigation, and plans for recruitment of a safeguarding co-ordinator and additional child-protection officers.
2009 case and funding suspension
The historic handling of one case, dating back to 2009, and concerning an allegation by a then-18 year old volunteer against an older volunteer, caused particular concern in public and governmental circles, and resulted, in April 2018, in the suspension of the remainder of Irish State funding pending discussions with the relevant department. With the State funding accounting for one third of the organisation's budget, the suspension had a serious effect. The Taoiseach himself commented on the handling of this case, and the Irish Times published an editorial on the handling of related matters.
Officers stepping aside temporarily
Four senior figures in Scouting Ireland voluntarily stepped away temporarily from their roles in mid-April 2018, pending a barrister-led review of certain matters.[clarification needed] Still standing aside as of October 2020[update], these are the Chief Scout, re-elected in early April 2018, two Chief Commissioners, and a member of National Management Committee.
Governance changes and funding restorations
The Minister Children partially restored State funding in June 2018. Funding was again suspended when the Chief Scout was invited to chair an EGM called to reform governance structures, and again restored after the meeting voted in favour of proposed changes, and the entire Board stood down, allowing a completely new Board to be elected.
Cases raised, November 2018
In November 2018 Scouting Ireland officials and the Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone noted to the relevant committee of the Oireachtas that a study of the organisation's records, and contacts from alleged victims, had revealed allegations related to abuse incidents, most notably from the 1960s to the 1980s. Most alleged abusers are dead, but where alleged abusers are living, Scouting Ireland has reported the allegations the Garda Síochána and Ireland's child protection agency, Tusla. To date, there was evidence of 108 alleged child sex abuse victims, from more than 400,000 members, and 71 alleged abusers (of whom 14 may have abused multiple children), out of more than 30,000 adult volunteers. Both records review and contacts are ongoing, and the numbers are likely to rise somewhat. The Minister noted that no alleged abuser is currently in Scouting Ireland.
2020 sex abuse report
In 2019, Scouting Ireland commissioned Ian Elliot to undertake a "learning review" on the issue of sexual abuse within the organisation. The resulting report, titled "Historical Sexual Abuse in Scouting: A Learning Review", noted that the safety and wellbeing of young people had not always been prioritised "particularly through the eighties and nineties". The report found that there was "coverup and [..] a failure to report abuse". The full extent of abuse could not be determined as records were lost or destroyed.
The report stated that a "characteristic of the poor governance that existed in scouting was the existence of a culture driven by self-interest, with little attention paid to the young people involved". There report also noted that there appeared "to have been an almost complete absence of any concern for the young people that were abused" and that, where attempts were made to support abuse victims or those reporting abuse, it was "poorly recorded". The report criticised the emergence of small cliques which played too great a role in the operation of Scouting bodies. Adults with a sexual interest in young people sometimes rose to positions of power and influence and controlled any fledgling accountability processes, preventing known offenders from being removed. The report said "Cronyism thrived and remained a significant problem in scouting up to and including the reviewer's involvement with Scouting Ireland" (in 2017). It also said that the introduction of an accountability framework was resisted and that "Individuals, who were suspected or known to be sex offenders, gained positions of power and became largely impregnable".
In his Executive Summary, Ian Elliot said that the existence of a "negative culture driven by self-interest, along with poor governance structures [were] the main cause of the continuation of sexual abuse in scouting". He also wrote that independent monitoring of practise and strict adherence to robust accountability procedures are essential for Scouting Ireland to ensuring that the progress that Scouting Ireland made in this area continues.
He wrote that those who volunteer to be Scout leaders should realise that to be a volunteer is a privilege, and that volunteers should expect to have their behaviour scrutinised and commented upon. If a volunteer's behaviour falls below standards, they should be helped raise it above the standard, and if they cannot raise their behaviour that they should leave Scouting. If their behaviour is a risk to young people, this should be reported immediately to statutory authorities.
He also wrote that the protection of children is not just the duty of a professional safeguarding team, but of every adult in the organisation. He concluded that Scouting Ireland is a considerable organisation that makes a "valuable contribution to the lives of many in Ireland today", but that the organisation must learn from its history to eliminate abuse and mismanagement and that "The volunteer is not supreme. The young person is.".
In May 2020, the report was published by the organisation which confirmed that the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland (CBSI) and the Scout Association of Ireland (SAI), which merged to form Scouting Ireland in 2004, identified at least 275 known or suspected sex predators across the two organizations, mainly dating from the 1960s and 1990s. Scouting Ireland backed the findings of the report and issued an apology.
Campsites and Scout centres in Scouting Ireland may be operated by local groups, with a number owned centrally and managed by the national organisation itself. Larch Hill in Tibradden, Co. Dublin, and Lough Dan near Roundwood, Co. Wicklow were inherited from Scouting Ireland (CSI) and Scouting Ireland S.A.I. as national campsites. Other nationally owned campsites include Mount Melleray Scout Centre in the Knockmealdown Mountains near Cappoquin, Co. Waterford and Castle Saunderson International Scouting Centre, a new campsite in Co. Cavan, as well as a water activity centre in Killaloe, Co. Clare. Locally run campsites include Kilcully, Co. Cork, Collon, Co. Louth, Dundrum International Scout Campsite, Dundrum, Co. Tipperary, and Glendale Lodge, Glencree, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow.
Participation in international Scouting
The organisation and its legacy associations have been strongly represented in international forums for many years. As of 2020[update], Scouting Ireland is the sole World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM)-recognised body in the Republic of Ireland, and works with the Scout Association in Northern Ireland (which also has a Baden-Powell Scout Association group). In 2014, Scouting Ireland won the bid to host the 16th World Scout Moot an international Jamboree style event for Rover Scouts, which is due to take place in the summer of 2021 - it will be the first world event to be held in Ireland.
In 1965, CBSI joined with SAI to form the Federation of Irish Scout Associations, FISA. Through FISA, Irish Scouts were able to play a full part in international Scouting. Prior to this, because the WOSM traditionally recognises only one Scouting body in each country, only SAI had been recognised by WOSM (since 1949). Similarly, the Northern Irish Scout Council (NISC) had observer status in the Federation, as CBSI's membership extended across the 32 counties on the island of Ireland and WOSM usually only recognises associations that observe political boundaries.
A number of Irish people have held office at international level, including as Chairman of the European Scout Committee and as Vice Chairman of the World Scout Committee. Howard E. Kilroy served as Chairman of the World Scout Foundation's Investment Committee. In 2001 John Geoghegan was appointed director of the World Scout Foundation
Five Irish Scouts have been awarded World Scouting's only award, the Bronze Wolf Award by the World Scout Committee, Edward J. Montgomery (1977), Desmond Fay (1984), Jeremiah Kelly (1985), Howard Kilroy (2010) and Therese Bermingham (2015).
Scouting Ireland hosted Jamboree 2008, its first international Jamboree, from 2–10 August 2008. It was held at Punchestown Racecourse, County Kildare with the aim of celebrating one hundred years of Scouting in Ireland. Around 12,500 Irish and overseas Scouts attended the event. The next Scouting Ireland National Jamboree, "JamboRí 2018" was held in 2018 at Stradbally, Co. Laois, with 4,000 in attendance.
The organisation has a wide range of national policies, largely set by National Council and overseen by the Board of Directors. In addition to policies on finance, personnel, uniforms and facilities, these include documents on the Youth Programme, risk and crisis management, adult resource management, and safeguarding.
Risk and crisis management
The organisation has a risk management strategy and policy, an anti-fraud policy, a whistle blower policy, and a crisis management policy.
There are policies on adults in Scouting, adults working with young people, and recognition for adult contributors.
Scouting Ireland has a Code of Good Practice, Garda vetting and Northern Ireland access policies, and guidance on reporting, social media and drug incidents.
- Castle Saunderson
- Lough Dan
- Scouting in Northern Ireland
- Irish Scout Jamborees
- Gaisce – The President's Award
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- Scouting Ireland Board of Directors (8 February 2021). "Statement to Membership from Board of Directors". Scouting Ireland – via Mailchimp.
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- Bodger (12 February 2019). "On Hikes, In Woods, In Tents, In Local Dens". Broadsheet.ie. Archived from the original on 18 January 2020. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
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- "The creation of Scouting Ireland" (PDF). World Organization of the Scout Movement. 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 June 2007. Retrieved 13 September 2006.
- "Scouting Ireland - InSIde Out" (PDF). Scouting Ireland. April 2013. p. 8. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
- "Scouting Ireland - Organisation Structure". Scouting Ireland. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
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- Scouting Ireland official [@ScoutingIreland] (12 September 2015). "Chief Scout Christy McCann delivering his first address as Scouting Ireland's new Chief Scout! #ScoutsIE" (Tweet). Retrieved 12 September 2015 – via Twitter.
- Scouting Ireland [@ScoutingIreland] (18 April 2015). "The NMC will appoint a chairperson for the National Team of Policy Implementation until an emergency national Council is organised #NC15" (Tweet). Retrieved 20 April 2015 – via Twitter.
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Government restores grants on condition the organisation reforms child protection rules
- No reference is made to Northern Ireland police or other authorities in the references available to date on the matter as a whole, or the specific November 2018 update
- Power, Jack. "Scouting Ireland child abuse cases expected to rise 'quite considerably'". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
Audit reveals details of 71 alleged abusers ‘none of which are still working in organisation.’ ... Most cases related to incidents between the 1960s and 1980s, and the majority of alleged abusers are deceased.
- Conneely, Ailbhe (14 May 2020). "Report finds failure to report Scouting Ireland abuse". RTÉ News. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
- "'Sex offenders dominated leadership' of scouting body for decades, report finds". irishtimes.com. Irish Times. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
The number of alleged victims of child sex abuse has increased to 356, and 275 alleged perpetrators [..] The alleged abuse primarily occurred between the 1960s and 1990s
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