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

10:00 am

Photo of Anne RabbitteAnne Rabbitte (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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I thank the witnesses for attending. The backdrop of this is the Topical Issue matter that Deputy Sherlock and I tabled. We tabled that in good faith to get an update on where we were after last November. I had a concern last November following the question I asked about how many files had gone to the Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP, from Scouting Ireland. With the height of respect, we knew the scope of work which Mr. Elliott was doing, which really related to retrospective cases, of which I have significant understanding. I also wanted to know about the current cases. I understand that the information that I requested on that day has still not been laid before the committee. Not only was it on that day, but there was a follow-up letter to Scouting Ireland and the board. There was a subsequent letter about it on 11 January. That is an outstanding matter that I am not comfortable or happy about.

Who sent or leaked which letter? We will probably never find out how that got into the public domain but it was there due to a genuine concern about something highlighted by Tusla. I felt from reading that letter and listening to the Minister's communication that there was a lack of dialogue between Scouting Ireland and Tusla. That was one reason the Minister felt obliged to do what she did on the floor of the Dáil and release that letter. If I was in her position, I would probably have done the same thing myself to encourage communication.

There are current and retrospective cases and we should not merge them because they are different things. I am trying to come up to date with matters and I appreciate all the good work that Mr. Elliott is doing. Mr. Tennant referred to there being 300 files in 2012 and he talked about the flow of information. I want to understand that flow of information with those 300 files that were in Larch Hill. Did we have a child protection officer in place at that time? When was the last time that a governance position was filled in Scouting Ireland that oversaw this? Why could we do a telephone line in 2018 when we did not in 2012? I think that is a good question. If Tusla and An Garda Síochána were not able to get the traction and Scouting Ireland got very good traction and involvement from this, why did we not do it in 2012?