By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith and Claire O’Sullivan
Console’s interim chief executive David Hall has called an emergency meeting with the group’s staff today to tell them services may be wound up immediately, due to alleged Government failure to solve the charity’s financial crisis.
The meeting in Dublin, which will be attended by representatives from services across the country, was called last night after it emerged that staff are owed hundreds of thousands of euro in salaries, due to the scandal that has engulfed the organisation.
A trawl of records examined by Mr Hall (pictured) in the past 48 hours has uncovered more details of the precarious finances of the charity, which is also struggling to fund vital suicide prevention and bereavement services, due to years of alleged funding misappropriation by disgraced ex-chief executive Paul Kelly.
While health minister Simon Harris and senior HSE officials have said they are doing all they can to address the issue, Mr Hall last night told them in phonecalls that, unless they provide a solution to the scandal now, he will be left with no option but to wind up services under his control.
“All I can say is there is a significant deficit in funds. There is significant money owed to staff. I can’t guarantee services will continue without a solution being given,” Mr Hall told the Irish Examiner. “The HSE haven’t met with me in the two weeks since this happened. A meeting has been promised with ministers Harris and [Helen] McEntee, but nothing happened. No meeting, no solutions. Nothing.”
Neither a spokesperson for Mr Harris nor a senior spokesperson for the HSE responded to phonecalls on the matter last night.
it is understood the Department of Health and the HSE are considering how to address the crisis at the charity, with the possibility they may increase funding or resource other suicide prevention charities to take over Console’s services.
It is believed the department and the HSE have held off on making a decision on what step to take next, as details are still emerging.
However, Mr Hall told officials from both State bodies last night, after two weeks of discussions, a decision now must be made, and that the onus is on the State to fully fund Console’s services, which depend on €70,000 a month from the exchequer and €30,000 in donations.
The standoff came a day after the Revenue Commissioners and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement contacted Console to inform the charity they are initiating seven-year and “criminal” investigations, respectively.
The Public Accounts Committee will today hear calls for ex-ministers to be publicly grilled over the Console crisis, while further internal audit details of the charity showed HSE officials were repeatedly blocked from accessing information.
This article first appeared in the
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