Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 13 March 2019
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs
Governance and Child Safeguarding Issues in Scouting Ireland: Tusla and Scouting Ireland
Mr. Pat Smyth:
I will try to clarify the issue first before asking my colleagues to elaborate further. There are two elements to this. The one the Chairman is referring to, namely, the child safeguarding statement, involves, as the director of quality assurance outlined, a very specific process. It is a statement of intent and there is a legal requirement for all organisations involved with children to have that statement in place. Mr. Lee's unit has been working with Scouting Ireland and all other organisations in the country to bring their child safeguarding statements up to a level of compliance. What is at issue with Scouting Ireland is the practice. We looked at the underlying policies, procedures and, most importantly, practices that support the way that children are protected in the organisation. That part of it was dealt with through the Children First information officers and because of the fact that we have historically been involved with Scouting Ireland on retrospective cases, the close reviewing of practice, policies and procedures was probably more intense than would be the case for a lot of other organisations. It is that part that we have been trying to address. That was the part that was the subject of the letter of 18 February. I understand the challenge here. The child safeguarding statement is, as Mr. Lee describes it, a little bit like the health and safety statement required for building. It is a statement of intent but does not mean that the underlying policies and procedures meet the requirements.