The charities regulator said laws giving it investigative powers must be enacted immediately.
John Farrelly also admitted his office only became aware of the alleged serious levels of deception and mis-management at suicide charity Console when he saw RTÉ’s Prime Time Investigates programme last week.
In an interview on RTÉ News, Mr Farrelly said up to that point the only concern raised with his office was “a one-liner from a particular person” who had concerns.
Asked if the HSE — which had concerns about Console going back to 2009 — was remiss in continuing to fund the charity, Mr Farrelly said he did not wish to comment.
He did say that a “state entity” should have reported the matter to the Director of Corporate Enforcement, which was what Mr Farrelly did after watching the Prime Time Investigates programme last week and subsequently having sight of the HSE’s internal audit of Console’s operations.
“The law in Ireland requires that when information comes into your possession where a crime may have been committed, that we pass that information on to the appropriate entity,” said Mr Farrelly.
As Console was a company, the regulator reported his concerns to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.
Amid widespread criticism of government failure to commence legislation that would give investigative powers to the regulator, Mr Farrelly said its board wanted that to happen. Commencement of the relevant legislation has been held up by a shortage of resources.
The regulator said it had met with Console, its legal representatives, and the interim investigators, and had been assured that immediate action was occurring to protect the assets and ensure the continuation of services in Console.
The regulator appointed five new trustees to the board of the charity yesterday. They are:
The regulator said it must ensure “there is public trust in the sector, which is why we have spent the last number of days identifying the people with the necessary competencies, skills and expertises in the areas of human resources, counselling services, accountancy, corporate governance, legal services, and the voluntary sector to govern the charity at this challenging time”.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved