Gagging for it?


More Kafkaesque antics from the small-minded pen pushers who pull the strings of Scouting Ireland’s National Management Committee behind the scenes.

November saw a change to the Standing Orders of that Committee (yawn), except these changes will effectively gag the members of the committee in yet further evidence that whilst most exchequer-funded charities are moving towards greater transparency – the faceless bureaucrats at Scouting Ireland are determined to go in the opposite direction.

Clauses 8.6 & 10.1 of the Scouting Ireland National Management Committee Standing Orders respectively say: 

8.6 No member of the NMC shall disclose any business discussed at an NMC or disclose any document circulated to the NMC unless it is specifically authorized by these Rules or by the NMC, or the Chairperson or the National Secretary. (sic) 

10.1 Board/NMC. Members should ensure that when making statements or answering questions, they can only inform or clarify, but not breach the confidentiality or integrity of the Board/NMC.

Predictably, this latest round of censorship, designed to prevent the membership (who also happen to be the shareholders and employers) from knowing what is going on inside their Management Committee, was imposed on the NMC without a resolution.

There is no doubt that judicious confidentiality is necessary and should be observed on a National committee such as the NMC.

However, this latest change in the standing orders (the made up internal rules – there is no legal or regulatory requirement for these changes) has less to do with responsibility around confidentiality and far more to do with extending the current culture of secrecy and resistance to accountability that the tiny clique who effectively run Scouting Ireland are dependent on.

The National Management Committee, despite being comprised for the larger part of highly intelligent and decent people, appears to have meekly accepted this gagging order, presumably because it has been presented as a fait accompli.

It is anything but a ‘fait accompli’ and should be reversed immediately.

The committee should tell the instigators of this shameless piece of megalomania where to go. Like many recent decisions made in Scouting Ireland (very few of them at NMC incidentally), this is a sticking plaster that seeks to cover up a more fundamental problem.

Why does the NMC leak? Could it be that Scouting Ireland’s membership (reminder: these are the people who OWN Scouting Ireland) has never trusted National leadership in Scouting less than they do at present? Could it be that there is no consultation, no debate, no tolerance of alternative ideas, dissent, disagreement? Vision 2020 and ID cards are just two of several initiatives rammed through the NMC lately that illustrate this point.

Is it any wonder in the midst of a culture of secrecy and cronyism that right-thinking members of the NMC who understand their leadership role share information with local members?


NMC/Board meetings of the association should have not only their minutes published, but should have a summary of key decisions disseminated to the membership in a timely manner in succinct format.

The motivation should be to share information and welcome considered views and queries. The tiny coterie of jaded powerbrokers and jumped up employees with dictatorial tendencies who regard this schoolyard behavior as appropriate need to quickly recalibrate their default position – this is a youth organization in 21st century Ireland, not a branch of the secret service (do the secret service role-play in your own time if its that important to you).

Delusions of grandeur have inflated the sense of importance of some people far beyond any semblance of reality – it is up to this National Management Committee, in its final few weeks prior to elections, to rein in this unnecessary behavior and signal decisively the beginnings of a cultural shift back towards transparency and accountability – attributes not seen for quite some time at national level in Scouting Ireland.

Let members of the NMC agree on a case-by-case basis at meetings what is confidential and what is not. They are capable people and they have an electoral mandate. Leaders tackle a crisis of confidence and a lack of trust with honesty and openness, not by hiding behind made up rules.

Share key decisions and the associated deliberations – what has the NMC got to hide? Issues of a highly sensitive nature should of course be confidential, but if there is anyone on the NMC who cannot tell the difference between policy discussion, new initiatives, etc and highly delicate or sensitive matters, they should perhaps consider a different way to spend their time.

Papering over the cracks with more rules is the reaction of weak and insecure bureaucrats – it has no place in Scouting Ireland.

Further Reading:

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