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 Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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There is much to try to internalise and understand from the contributions. My earlier intervention was based on the idea that there needs to be progress while we are all moving forward, which means the State agencies, the statutory bodies, Scouting Ireland, as a voluntary organisation, and we, as Members of the Oireachtas, are all on a journey to ensure that an organisation that is cherished within Irish society emerges stronger as a result of what has happened. While we are on that journey, there remain questions to be teased out. If we have concerns, no matter how seemingly ill founded they might be, they are nonetheless concerns. It is important that we reserve the right to ask questions, and so doing should not be taken as having a particular view on an organisation or individuals within it.

As Deputy Rabbitte noted, she and I raised the Topical Issue matter but if we had not, we would arguably not be having this discussion. The motive for raising the matter was predicated on the concerns we had that information was entering the public domain via The Irish Timesand we read the information but there was no mechanism where the Minister would report to us in the committee or to the Oireachtas in respect of the process. We merely wanted to establish the facts of the process for the historical cases. I understand the point Mr. Elliott made about historical cases but given that the numbers were in the public domain, we felt that it was necessary to interrogate the process. It was at that juncture that the Minister put the Tusla letter on the record of the House.

That leads me to my first question. The Child and Family Agency, Tusla, has stated on the record that the letter of 18 February was not copied or issued to any person outside of Scouting Ireland or Tusla. On Wednesday, 27 February 2019, Tusla received a request from the Department to provide a copy of the letter dated 18 February 2019. The Department had received direct communication from Scouting Ireland's interim safeguarding manager, Mr. Ian Elliott, on Tuesday, 26 February 2019 in connection with Tusla's letter. That letter was provided to the Department, and the Minister read its recommendations into the Dáil record and later published the letter on the Department's website. Will Mr. Elliott confirm his version of events vis-à-visTusla's interpretation of events? The letter exists - that is a statement of fact - and it was sent to Tusla. How did the letter then return to the Department? Did Mr. Elliot furnish that letter to the Department?