Officials have been poring over files and documents placed in a secret storage unit by the former Console chief executive Paul Kelly after a court order allowed David Hall, interim CEO at the charity, to break the lock and seize them.
The latest dramatic twist in the Console controversy came following a tip-off that Mr Kelly had rented the unit in Naas, Co Kildare, had paid for it in cash, and that two deliveries of material had been made.
An inventory of all the documents was being put together through the night and will be presented in the High Court today to Mr Justice Paul Gilligan, who yesterday granted the order allowing Mr Hall and gardaí to access the unit.
Mr Hall, who pledged that work at the bereavement counselling service would continue come what may, was given permission to inspect and remove any documents or material relating to Console from Unit G9, Remedy Self Storage, Tougher Business Park in Naas, Co Kildare.
A media blackout remained in place for an hour after the granting of the order as Mr Hall and gardaí travelled to the unit.
In the High Court, Martin Hayden, counsel for Console, said there was an urgency to the application because Mr Hall believed the charity is still in serious and exceptional danger.
In an affidavit, Mr Hall said he received a phone call last Friday following an interview he gave on Liveline on RTÉ radio “from a person saying they had important information”.
He was told that, on June 28, Mr Kelly and his wife Patricia had been seen at the storage unit.
Mr Hall made enquires and confirmed that, on Tuesday last week, Mr Kelly had rented a unit there and had paid cash for it.
Mr Hall said he was unaware if the cash was withdrawn from Console’s accounts or credit cards.
He was informed that Mr Kelly made one delivery to the unit on June 28, driving an Audi Q5, while he and his wife made as second delivery the same day, using a Mercedes vehicle.
Mr Hall said he was told by a source that Mrs Kelly was at the door of the container unit while Mr Kelly appeared to be inside.
Mr Hall said that, contrary to last Thursday’s court order preventing the Kellys accessing Console bank and other accounts, and ordering the return of property, he had not been provided with any documentation about the storage unit or its contents.
Speaking on RTÉ radio afterwards, Mr Hall said that all the contents had been removed from the container, which included a significant amount of material central to the running of any business.
Referring to the various “moving parts” of the controversy and the public “convulsion” over the revelations at Console, Mr Hall said: “This has been an operational nightmare, cash flow is not great.”
However, he stressed that the HSE and other bodies had been informed that “at all costs, these services must be protected”.
“Whatever has to happen, this service will be kept open,” he said, adding that clear decisions had to be made to protect service users at a time when call volumes to the Console helpline had actually increased.
He also paid tribute to staff at the charity, stating: “These are people who were betrayed, whose trust was shattered.”
He would not comment as to the nature of the documents found in the unit but Sergeant Tom Bowe of Naas Garda Station revealed that the container in Toughers Business Park held accounts, cheques, and files from Console.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Simon Harris and Mental Health Minister Helen McEntee were briefed last night by the HSE’s Mental Health Division on the detail of the internal audit they have completed on the Console charity.
Mr Harris will update the Cabinet today on the issue.
In a separate High Court sitting yesterday, Mr Justice Gilligan was told by a lawyer for Mr Kelly’s sister, Joan McKenna, that she was never a director of the organisation.
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