The Dáil’s public accounts watchdog has said it will investigate the controversy surrounding Console as well as top-up payments made at the Saint John of God Order.
Newly-appointed Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Seán Fleming made the pledge as Minister for Health, Simon Harris, described a HSE audit of Console as “disgusting and disturbing”.
The revelations regarding Console, which centre on its former chief executive Paul Kelly, has also increased scrutiny on the HSE, which administered much of the funding to the suicide charity.
Yesterday, the HSE said that it would be launching a full review into top-up payments made to 14 executives at the Saint John of God Order .
Regarding the crisis at Console, Mr Fleming said: “This was obviously going on for a period of time, the HSE on behalf of the Irish taxpayer was putting in money year after year, they had to be aware of this for a period time.
“Why did they not take action on this earlier and how long did they know about this?
“This will come back to the door of the HSE because they are the body that handed out Irish taxpayers’ money.”
He said he had asked the HSE to come before PAC in early July and that the PAC would spend significant time investigating the case.
It also appeared to him that the HSE “did not know” what it was doing handing out taxpayers’ money.
Mr Fleming also pledged that reports of unauthorised top-up payments at St John of God would be investigated by PAC.
He said the previous PAC in the last Dáil had already looked at top-up payments, but this latest case was new information when everyone thought the issue had been “put to bed”.
Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall claimed that the Government and state agencies had been warned of problems with Console for many years.
Her comments came as former health minister James Reilly confirmed reports that he was warned by a businessman of concerns regarding Console previously in the Dáil canteen, and had told the person to put those concerns in writing to the Department of Health.
But Sinn Féin says that the response by Mr Reilly, who is now a senator, is at variance with businessman Tommy Morris’s account, who claims that the-then minister gave Console a clean bill of health in 2013 after his complaints.
Mr Harris said that he had read the internal audit report about Console, and stated: “There’s elements there that are quite frankly disgusting and disturbing.”
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