An Irish Scout leader, who is openly gay, has revealed that he dropped out of the running for Chief Scout due to a threatening email.
Kieran Gildea (58), is a long-standing member of Scouting Ireland, and was a favourite for the position of Chief Scout, but dropped out of the race after receiving an anonymous email which contained ‘insinuations and threats’ which led to his ‘immediate collapse’.
The email was received on the eve of the National Council in April, where it was expected that Mr Gildea would have been elected as Chief Scout.
Speaking to The Irish Scouter, Mr Gildea said that the email triggered repressed guilt he had felt at being gay and thew him into depression.
“The message triggered a flood of bad feelings about myself and convinced me that I was letting everyone in my life down in the most hurtful way and that the principles that I strive to live by were all a lie,” he said.
“All the years of repressed fear around being gay alongside a deep sense of guilt and responsibility for what happened in Kenya flooded over me.”
Mr Gildea said that the death of a colleague in Kenya in 1997 had resulted in his long-term depression.
In the immediate aftermath of receiving the email, Mr Gildea felt that he had no choice but to drop out of the running as he was ‘both in shock and having a physical and mental breakdown’.
Despite the email, Mr Gildea, who is Director of Operations and Corporate Services at the Adoption Authority of Ireland, said that he does not think homophobia is widespread in Scouting in Ireland..
“I believe the overwhelming majority of people in Scouting are kind, decent people who believe in fairness, inclusivity and openness,” he said.
“There are clearly a small minority – a tiny minority – who do not.”
Mr Gildea said that he won’t run for Chief Scout in the near future but didn’t rule out running for the position at some stage.