Console dealings with UK charity emerge

Serious questions have arisen around transactions between the suicide bereavement charity Console and its UK-based sister organisation as more properties and bank accounts have come to light, the High Court has heard.

In the past 24 hours, bank accounts in Britain and properties in Ireland have emerged as a result of investigations by interim CEO of Console, David Hall.

A lawyer acting for Console, Keith Farry BL, asked for freezing orders obtained by Mr Hall earlier this week, to be notified to the English bank which handled the UK-Ireland transactions.

Searches are also being conducted in relation to three linked properties in Tralee, Co Kerry; Cork; and an eight-bed property in Galway — as well as about a Paypal account, the court heard.

Mr Farry said the May 2015 accounts of the UK charity state that the Irish organisation received two sums totalling £31,684 (€37,744) for providing management and administration services, including consultancy work.

The transactions were on a Natwest Bank account in London. While there may be difficulties extending the freezing orders to a UK bank, Mr Farry was seeking the court’s permission to put Natwest on notice of Thursday’s orders of the High Court, Mr Farry said.

Also of concern was a Paypal account which was used to receive donations to Console and Mr Farry would be seeking to have that account ring-fenced as soon as full details of it are obtained.

Mr Farry said since the orders were obtained against Kelly, his wife and his sister, Joan McKenna, preventing them accessing its accounts, links with the UK charity Console Suicide Prevention Ltd had come to light.

The trustees of the UK body were Mr Kelly and his wife, their son Tim Kelly, and the name of a fourth trustee allegedly appointed on May 7, 2015, was a “Cecelia Larkin”, Mr Farry said.

The court was informed on Thursday that other directors of the Irish charity did not even know they were directors, much less what was going on in it.

Console dealings with UK charity emerge

Console’s UK operation in Central London was backed by the family of former Welsh soccer manager, Gary Speed, who died by suicide in 2011. The family donated counselling rooms, the funds for which were generated at charity golfing events at which Alan Shearer, Michael Owen and Gordon Strachan took part.

Paul Kelly had said at the time the service was set up in the UK due to the absence of any comparable service.

It has also emerged that the court has been unable to serve Mr Kelly or his wife Patricia Dowling with notices of the injunctions granted earlier this week, preventing them from accessing the charity’s bank accounts.

Console’s solicitor called to the Kellys’ address at Alexandra Manor, Clane, and found the property had electric gates and there was no response when he rang. The postbox was over-flowing with letters and it appeared nobody had been there for some time.

Mr Farry said that while a solicitor has been nominated to represent Ms McKenna, he is seeking an order that they be allowed serve the Kellys by alternative means.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan granted Mr Farry permission to serve the proceedings on the Kellys at their email addresses after hearing that other mails sent to Mr Kelly appeared to have been received, but not responded to.

Meanwhile, the People of the Year committee has written to Paul Kelly demanding he return his award as calls grow for the Government to give the charity regulator investigative powers.

Rehab Group, which runs the People of the Year Awards, want the 2014 accolade back “ in order to protect the standing and integrity of the awards”.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio, Ivan Cooper — advocacy director with voluntary and community sector representative body The Wheel — confirmed that 300 complaints were made to the regulator about 130 charities in the past two years.

Other matters will be dealt with when the case returns to court next week.

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