The HSE gave crisis-hit charity Console more than €321,000 in funding this year, despite its own audit team and Government Ministers being aware of serious financial irregularities at the charity since summer 2015, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Irish Examiner Political Reporter.
Junior minister with responsibility for mental health Helen McEntee admitted the situation this afternoon, contradicting Department of Health claims just last week no taxpayers money has been handed over to the group this year.
In a response to Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy last week, the Department said the HSE has yet to give Console any funding in 2016.
The issue had been raised due to the significant concerns raised over the charity's financial transparency due to the growing scandal surrounding the group's now ex-chief executive Paul Kelly emerged.
However, in a follow-up e-mail to Ms Murphy this afternoon, Ms McEntee said there was a mistake in the initial response and that the HSE has in fact provided the crisis-hit charity with €321,498 in taxpayer's money since January 1.
“It is important that the correct information is in the public domain on this matter.
“I had notified various journalists and interested parties of the Minister’s response to me in the Dáil saying that there had been no HSE funding this year so I wish to pass on the clarification from the Minister that in fact a substantial amount of funding has been transferred from the HSE to Console this year,” Ms Murphy said.
Last week: Department of Health confirm HSE did not give #Console any taxpayer money this year.
Today: Actually... it gave €321,498.— Fiachra Ó Cionnaith 😷 (@Ocionnaith) July 5, 2016
The large level of funding is required in order to ensure existing front-line services which are believed to be unconnected to the back-room management scandal facing the charity continue to be provided.
However, the fact the money was handed over at a time when Console is at the centre of a major financial transparency crisis is likely to cause further concern among the public over the controversy.