Crisis-hit Console to be wound up within days

Crisis-hit suicide charity Console will be wound up within days after it was decided it cannot continue to operate due to the financial scandal engulfing the organisation.

Crisis-hit Console to be wound up within days

The fate of the charity was sealed after a crunch meeting between the HSE, Department of Health, Charities Regulator John Farrelly, and Console interim chief executive David Hall yesterday.

While no plans have been finalised, it is expected the charity’s frontline services — including its 24/7 national helpline and suicide bereavement liaison services — will be taken over by similar groups, with the Samaritans and Aware strongly suggested.

Console is due to run out of state-funded money next week and any groups that step in to take over services will have to receive substantial financial support.

The decision to wind up the charity, which has been embroiled in an escalating financial crisis surrounding ex-chief executive Paul Kelly for the past fortnight, came after interim chief executive Mr Hall lashed out at an alleged lack of action by the Government and the HSE over the crisis.

Mr Hall held an emergency meeting with Console’s 12 full-time staff and 60 part-time staff yesterday to inform them they were in the “low hundreds of thousands of euro” out of pocket and that services would have to be cancelled.

He claimed there had been little to no leadership shown by the Government or the HSE since the crisis first emerged.

“The HSE haven’t met with me in the two weeks since this happened. A meeting has been promised with ministers Harris and [junior minister with responsibility for mental health, Helen] McEntee, but nothing happened. No meeting, no solutions. Nothing.”

In response, a 90-minute meeting between Mr Harris, the HSE, Department of Health, charities regulator John Farrelly and Mr Hall was arranged at the request of the health minister yesterday morning. At this meeting it was decided to wind up Console and fund other groups to take over its frontline services.

During a three-hour meeting with staff yesterday afternoon, Mr Hall outlined the developments and explained that both his wishes and those of the Department of Health and HSE are to ensure services for vulnerable people are protected.

He is understood to have explained that if nothing is done, Console will run out of funds by next week, and that despite a trawl of records previously held by ex-chief executive Paul Kelly not enough replacement resources have been uncovered.

Aware chief executive Dominic Layden told RTÉ Radio’s Drivetime he has been contacted by the HSE about the possibility of taking control of some Console services.

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