The following quote is from a communication by the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Gasóga na hÉireann / Scouting Ireland Services CLG and dated January 6th:
It is also wrong to say there is ‘infighting among directors’. The Board of Scouting Ireland operates in a professional manner and strongly rejects any suggestions to the contrary. All members of the Board of Scouting Ireland CLG have the opportunity to contribute at Board meetings and are also members of various Board Sub-Committees. Robust discussion takes place at Board level and there can be disagreement, but any concerns raised by any Board Member are listened to and responded to in a professional manner.
But on February 10th, a letter was shared on social media on behalf of two Directors. It appears to be a letter to the Board dated February 2nd, and it commences with the following paragraph.
It has come to our attention that over the past month, since you have been made aware of a protected disclosure made by Jacques Kinane, Donnachadha Reynolds and one other Director, under the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022, that you have engaged in a series of retaliatory actions including but not limited to statements that intend to injure a person’s reputation in the eyes of reasonable members of society.
The letter goes on to set out a number of specific matters arising from verbal and written communications by the board. It calls on the board to issue a public retraction of those communications and declares that in the absence of such a retraction they would be obliged to make the matter public in order to protect their own good names and reputations. The recent publication of the letter would appear to be a step towards making the matter public.
This situation is highly regrettable and should be extremely worrying to all who have an interest in the future of Scouting in Ireland.
This article presents a number of items which are in the public domain and which may shed some light on the current situation.
Irish Times article, January 6th
Based on a document which they had obtained access to, the Irish Times published an article regarding the board of directors of Gasóga na hÉireann / Scouting Ireland Services CLG, the company which oversees and provides governance to the majority of Scout Groups on the island of Ireland.
This Irish Times article article claimed that the organisation is in “jeopardy” due to in-fighting amongst Directors. It cited a briefing paper for a political party as its principle source and revealed a questioning of the integrity of the organisation’s safeguarding as well as concerns about finances. It referred to one director being “suspended” and another being asked to leave a recent meeting of the Board.
It is unclear what is meant by suspension of a board member, as there appears to be no basis in law or the organisation’s constitution for such a thing.
The full text of the Irish Times article can be read here
Board communication, January 6th
On January 6th, the Board of Directors sent a communication to many adults who are registered with the organisation. The statement led with the following.
As we move forward into 2024, some legacy issues continue to be of media interest. Today The Irish Times published an article that contains a number of allegations about our organisation. The allegations call into question the integrity of the safeguarding department, the financial health of Scouting Ireland and the integrity of the Board.
These allegations have been made in a document prepared for Sinn Féin by two directors of Scouting Ireland CLG. We have received legal advice that the document is defamatory. No evidence has been produced to support the many ill-informed claims made. These claims are without merit and seem designed to undermine the progressive work of Scouting Ireland and to damage its reputation.
It went on to reject the allegations and to deny “infighting among directors”, as well as making the following statement about the financial situation.
As you will be aware from our pre-Christmas update, the audited financial accounts of Scouting Ireland CLG for the year ended 31 August 2022 have been signed off by the Board. The accounts show that our finances are robust. The efforts of the Board and the professional staff are focused on ensuring Scouting Ireland’s stability and prosperity so that the organisation can continue to support scouting for young people throughout Ireland while also supporting survivors. To this end, the statements include a contingency for potential claims against Scouting Ireland arising from historic sexual abuse in CBSI and SAI.
Undoubtedly a reference to the 7.4m referred to under the heading January 16th below, and which does not appear to be backed by cash or any other assets.
A full copy of the Board’s communication appears here
Irish Times article, January 14th
On January 14th, the Irish Times ran an article covering a range of governance related issues at Scouting Ireland.
Internal divisions within Scouting Ireland and allegations of current child-protection shortcomings made by two board members have thrown the youth organisation into a fresh governance crisis. The organisation is grappling with charges made by two directors and a separate dispute over a recent vetting “failure”, as well as a clash involving the former board of a Northern Ireland offshoot.
The directors, Donnachadha Reynolds (50) and Jacques Kinane (25), prepared a November 7th, 2023, briefing document for two Sinn Féin TDs, Kathleen Funchion and Pearse Doherty. Setting out a series of highly-charged claims, the briefing stated Scouting Ireland’s board had been beset by “terrible infighting”. The directors alleged they had attempted to raise concerns a report about the “handling of a paedophile” had not had not been “appropriately investigated” by the organisation. The directors said they also had concerns about signing off on the organisation’s financial accounts, due to fears that more than 50 High Court cases being taken by abuse survivors seeking compensation could lead to a possible “wipeout”. The briefing stated Mr Reynolds had been suspended as a board member, following a clash with Joe Marken, Scouting Ireland’s interim chief executive, during a board meeting last June. The document stated another director had asked for the meeting to be adjourned due to the “level of aggression” in exchanges.
The full text of the Irish Times article can be read here
On January 16th The Currency ran an article on the financial situation in Scouting Ireland, full text here
Our own article on January 16th, regarding the accounts for year ending 31st August 2022 of Gasóga na hÉireann/Scouting Ireland CLG, included the following.
It is understood that there was considerable friction amongst the board about these accounts and, in particular, the declaration that the company is a “Going Concern”.
And, re. Going Concern
The annual report states that the assessment that the company can continue to operate and pay the bills covers the period up to January 31st 2025. Based on the annual report it seems that if the legal cases were to be successful we would then become liable for payments amounting to an estimated 7.4m. There is provision in the accounts for this amount but there does not appear to be any cash or assets to cover the cost, so it seems we would have to find that money or cease trading.
The full text of that article can be read here
Communication from 2 Directors, February 10th
On February 10th, a letter was shared on social media by one of the two Directors. It appears to be a letter to the Board dated February 2nd, and it commences with the following paragraph.
It has come to our attention that over the past month, since you have been made aware of a protected disclosure made by Jacques Kinane, Donnachadha Reynolds and one other Director, under the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Act 2022, that you have engaged in a series of retaliatory actions including but not limited to statements that intend to injure a person’s reputation in the eyes of reasonable members of society. These statements were made via Board Correspondence to members as well as during the recent Board Briefing to Group Leaders & Commissioners. We demand that within 7 days of the date of this correspondence that you issue a public statement withdrawing all commentary made in relation to Jacques Kinane and Donnachadha Reynolds during the month of January and that you refrain from making any further defamatory statements. If no public statement is made, we will be forced to publish this letter in an effort to defend our good name and character. This will not be a breach of Board Confidentiality as per the assertion you made at the Group Leader and Commissioner conference on 27th January “th[e content is] in the Jack Power articles of last month. So it’s fair game now to talk about it to the membership. We’re not breaching any confidentiality”.
As the later has now been widely shared one would assume that there has been nothing by way of a retraction by the Board.
A full copy of the letter released by the two Directors appears here