Theirishscouter is very grateful to everyone who took the time to express their views on the topic of the fellowship patrols in Scouting Ireland, covered in a recent article.
Despite the assumption of some who read the article, that it is about one particular fellowship patrol, it is in fact more a commentary on the need for the association to have some sensible checks and balances in place around the issue of conflicts of interest.
Some policies of course already exist on this topic, but where implemented, the action is patchy and opaque. Writing a policy document in Scouting Ireland is often seen as the end of tackling an issue – it should in fact be the beginning.
MOUNTAIN OUT OF A MOLEHILL
The harrumphing of some esteemed members of the association, who enjoy their membership of influential fellowship patrols almost as much as they enjoy taking offence to things, is presumably a manifestation of the irritation felt at the prospect of having a light shone into some of the cozier corners of how some fellowship patrols interact with the national association.
The familiar whine of ‘playing the man, not the ball’ is equally a red herring and is predictably rolled out whenever an awkward question gets raised that some of our more influential luminaries would prefer not to have discussed. In any case, it is hard to see a link between advocating for transparency and this being interpreted as ‘playing’ someone.
The only man ‘played’ this year in Scouting Ireland was the one who received a threatening email that caused him to withdraw from an election he would otherwise have won by a large margin.
Equally, the suggestion (which would be hilarious, if it was not in such bad taste) that a call for greater transparency and fairness in how Scouting Ireland conducts its affairs is somehow a slight on or is disrespectful towards deceased members of ANY fellowship patrol, is frankly rather hard to follow. It smacks of slightly desperate political spinning, if not a very offensive diversionary tactic.
Yes, the irishscouter, like many others is aware of several remarkable coincidences that have occurred in Scouting Ireland in recent years.
Coincidences do of course happen.
Applying the guidelines around conflicts of interest (and ensuring the decisions made and records kept on this, are available to interested members of Scouting Ireland), will ensure that such coincidences are taken in context and do not lead to incorrect perceptions that double standards apply, depending on who you are and who you know.
Jobs, contracts, positions on committees, awards, etc. will be available. If they are shared around the association equally and fairly, with a transparent process, then no single group, sub-entity or cultural segment of the association will feel aggrieved or excluded. That is ultimately a leadership issue – lets hope the incoming Chief Scout is able to demonstrate the necessary impartiality needed to reset perceptions in this area.
A STRONG CONTRIBUTION
As the original article clearly acknowledged, Fellowship patrols are a great idea. It is great to see that there are Fellowship Patrols out there which people feel really passionate about.
The concept of fellowship is the only structure provided for in the association’s rules for a group of adults to work together to provide service to the movement. Many Fellowship Patrols take this service seriously and do some wonderful work, supporting others.
An example of this service is the very active lobbying of the National Management Committee by the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender) Fellowship to be allowed to officially gather members to march under the association’s banner at ‘Pride’. This was finally successful in 2015 after several years of avoidance/resistance at Scouting’s higher levels.
Another great example of the many great works undertaken by Fellowship Patrols are the regular work-parties undertaken by the Cork Fellowship Patrol (for example at Kilcully Scout Campsite) or the daytrips that it conducts where widows of Scouters are invited to participate and network .
Transparency and fairness to all are no doubt the watchwords of every scout and scouter; not least those who choose to join a fellowship patrol. It is a great concept and the experiences and camaraderie, not to mention the service to others, undoubtedly make them great places to be.
Lets ensure they continue to be not just credible as a concept, but that they also remain strong positive contributors to Scouting Ireland and that they and their members go from strength to strength as we hopefully all look towards a new era of equality, inclusiveness and transparency in Scouting Ireland.