Watchdog unaware of Console fears until Prime Time programme aired

The charities regulator was not aware of any concerns around the operation of the suicide bereavement charity Console until they were aired last week.

John Farrelly said apart from a “one liner from a particular person who had concerns”, they had otherwise been in the dark until the Prime Time programme.

Last night, the HSE said concerns about Console were raised relating to corporate governance in 2009 and “certain control actions were put in place at the time including a limit placed on the organisation’s funding”.

However, an increase in funding occurred in 2013 “when there was an urgent requirement for Console for take over an important suicide helpline”.

This funding was subject to review on foot of which the National Office for Suicide Prevention had concerns — leading to a request for an internal HSE audit last year. It is now complete and will inform a decision “regarding the HSE’s future arrangements with Console”.

The High Court yesterday granted temporary injunctions preventing access to Console’s bank accounts by its former CEO Paul Kelly and his wife.

Mr Kelly, his wife Patricia Kelly, otherwise known as Patricia Dowling, and his sister Joan McKenna, as directors of the charity, are also injuncted from interfering with its economic, commercial and public interests.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan made orders freezing Console’s bank accounts save for with written instructions from David Hall, the interim chief executive.

Former CEO Paul Kelly
Former CEO Paul Kelly

Senior counsel Martin Hayden, who made the application on behalf of Console, said that the orders were required to “steady the ship” and ensure the important counselling service it provides is maintained.

It came after Mr Kelly, who initially said he was resigning, resiled from that position and gave interviews saying he was still CEO, the court heard.

Mr Justice Gilligan made orders restraining the defendants or others from using any confidential information or books and records of the charity and that all records taken from its offices be returned. He also ordered the return of all goods and property including, but not limited to, any assets paid for with Console funds.

Mr Hall formed the view the charity was in serious and exceptional danger and remained so because of actions and statements by Mr Kelly. As a result, it was decided to seek injunctions so that Console would not suffer irreparable damage and to meet its obligations to creditor, staff, suppliers, and continue services. The case comes back before the court next Tuesday.

David Hall, the interim chief executive.
David Hall, the interim chief executive.

It emerged earlier this week Mr Kelly, his wife, and son spent almost €500,000 on clothes, trips, groceries, and other expenses between 2012 and 2014. All three benefited by almost €500,000 in salaries and cars in the same period.

Mr Hall confirmed that a review of operations by accountant Tom Murray is scheduled to be completed by the end of August.

However, he said that Mr Murray was “hoping to have it done before then”.

More on this topic

Judge wants to hear from liquidator before granting expenses for former Console chief Paul KellyJudge wants to hear from liquidator before granting expenses for former Console chief Paul Kelly

New strategy promises greater monitoring of charitiesNew strategy promises greater monitoring of charities

Pieta House to take over Console servicesPieta House to take over Console services

Board of Console meeting to decide charity's futureBoard of Console meeting to decide charity's future


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