Crisis – A difficult and most important decision

One definition of the word CRISIS is: “a time when a difficult or important decision must be made”. I submit that we are clearly at a point of crisis, as we are facing a highly important decision, which some members may find difficult to make, at the forthcoming EGM.

On March 27th the Company Secretary of Gasóga ne hÉireann / Scouting Ireland Services clg communicated with members giving notice of an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) which has been called by the Board of Directors in order to have the membership dismiss two of their number.

A copy of the notice may be read here

This was followed later the same day with a communicating which set out that the company was following a procedure set out in the Companies Act (the relevant section seems to be Section 146) and was obliged to provide the two Directors with the opportunity to submit representations for circulation to the members in advance of the EGM.

A copy of that communication can be read here and the circulated statement of the two can be read here

Subsequently the two Directors invited Scout Groups to contact them at ceist@proton.me if they have any questions or points to discuss with them.

In response to questions they received, they have now posted a further statement outlining what they had done since January 2022 to pursue their concerns after they, as Board members,  had “made all reasonable measures to deal with these issues internally”. The outline can be read here

Since this article was posted (01/04/2024), the Board have issued this statement

On April 19th this article appeared in the Irish Times and this statement was issued by the board.

Our articles of February 13th 2024 and January 8th 2024 may also shed some further light on the subject.

Ordinarily, this website seeks to provide factual information without comment, however the current crisis demands more of us.

The following represents the authors personal views based on known information.

In 2018, a new constitution was approved and a new Board elected to implement a “Company Only” Scout organisation and bring about better corporate governance. Concern and anxiety developed about the nature and manner of the change programme that was pursued by the Board, and that has been increasing ever since. It is likely that, in trying to handle a difficult narrative with a variety of external stakeholders, the Board felt they had to demonstrate their resolve in a manner that met the expectations of those stakeholders. Or it may be that the Board lacked the requisite level of skills and experience to deliver a change programme of the scale involved and to ensure it led to an improved Scouting organisation as well as a compliant charity and limited company.

In any case, it would seem that we still have not built an organisation which:

  • Recognises that our purpose is to enable quality Scouting experiences for our youth members, and so spends most if its energies supporting the delivery of youth programme via the Scout Method
  • Recognises the key role of adult volunteers in the Scout Method, and utilises their vast pool of knowledge and experience by being volunteer-led at all levels
  • Recognises that Scouting is a voluntary educational movement by operating an open, inclusive way that is driven by informed, democratic decision-making at all levels
  • Recognises our dependence on key external stakeholders as well as our members and so provides everyone with adequate, clear, and relevant communications in a timely and accessible manner
  • Recognises the need for all to contribute to good governance by making our policies, procedures and guidelines available in an unambiguous and accessible form

It is clear that a significant factor underlying the current situation is a totally skewed attitude towards adult volunteering, which has created an unwelcoming, un-supportive and sometimes toxic environment for adult volunteers at all levels but in a particularly pronounced way at national level. Some high-profile examples come to mind and it is certain that other less well-known examples also exist. And yet, we are now being asked to agree with a proposal that we remove two Directors because they questioned the legalities and safety of the the decisions being made by the others on the Board on a range of issues and who eventually felt that the only way left for them to progress their concerns was to bring them to the attention of the relevant regulatory bodies.

Perhaps the Board is under pressure to regulate the situation whereby the two were “suspended” by them without complying with the requirement to have the High Court adjudicate the matter as required by law. Nonetheless, the decision the membership is being asked to make is particularly difficult because it would seem that voting in favour of the proposals would remove two individuals who have made Protected Disclosures to the relevant regulatory authorities while those authorities are still investigating the matters disclosed.

The forthcoming in-person EGM is to be welcomed in that it will enable all of the Directors to address the membership directly, and it will enable members to ask questions directly and to get answers before voting on this very important proposal. I would urge every member to consider all of the information available now and any further information that emerges, to discuss this important matter within their Scout Group, and to ensure that their Scout Group is represented by a full complement of delegates at the EGM.

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