Console cannot continue without HSE support, says interim chief

David Hall says charity still owes €12,000 to cover costs of operating phone lines

The head office of Console Suicide Prevention Charity in Celbridge, Co Kildare. Photograph: Collins

The head office of Console Suicide Prevention Charity in Celbridge, Co Kildare. Photograph: Collins

 

The suicide charity Console “cannot continue in the absence of support from the HSE”, David Hall, its interim chief executive has said.

He said meetings would take place with the Health Service Executive in the coming days to discuss this, so that the charity could continue to function.

Mr Hall confirmed staff remained “on board” but he noted, for example, that as much as €12,000 was still owed to cover the costs of operating phone lines .

The charity has been at the centre of controversy for more than a week since it emerged a HSE internal audit had found a lack of financial controls and governance at the organisation.

Former president Mary McAleese, who was patron of Console for a number of years, said on Sunday she had no comment to make on the current controversy.

Assets including company cars, records, credit cards, cheque books, and a computer were seized from Console founder Paul Kelly and his wife Patricia over the weekend under High Court orders made on Thursday.

Interim chief executive of the charity David Hall took possession of some of the charity’s assets on Saturday.

Solicitors for the Kellys contacted Console solicitors and arrangements were made to hand over the assets at a hotel in Ballsbridge, Dublin.

Neither Mr Kelly nor his wife were present for the handover of a 2010 Audi Q5 and a 2009 Mercedes CLS.

Mr Hall also collected a number of files, records and a computer used by the family. It is understood that a specialist IT firm is now examining the material on the computer. An inventory of the assets will be taken on Monday and the High Court will be updated on Tuesday when the case returns to court.

“I’m looking into all assets belonging to the company and I’m engaging with the charity regulator who is also in touch with the UK charity regulator,” Mr Hall said.

“We are making sure that the assets of Console are protected”.

Security firm

“I hired a security firm to document all the material in the hotel room which was also photographed,” he said.

The cars were taken to Wilsons Auctions on the Naas Road where they will be valued and it is established what payments may be outstanding, he said.

A final unpublished HSE audit on the charity signed off by Minister for Health Simon Harris on June 24th last will include Mr Kelly’s response to figures revealed in earlier audits and supplied by him to the HSE on June 23rd.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics on Sunday, Mr Harris said the audit report into Console made for “harrowing reading”, adding that some elements were “disgusting” and “disturbing”.

Neither Mr Kelly or his wife Patricia have made any public comment since the controversy over lack of financial controls at the charity emerged over a week ago.

It is understood Mr Kelly, who initially resigned as chief executive of the charity, turned up at the charity’s office in Celbridge a few days later and told staff it was “business as usual,” is now being treated in hospital.

Blocked access

The High Court has since blocked Mr Kelly’s access to the charity’s bank accounts and temporarily injuncted him and his family members from interfering in the running of the charity.

According to the unpublished internal HSE audit of Console, Mr Kelly, his wife and son Tim ran up credit card bills of almost €500,000 on items such as groceries, designer clothes and foreign trips over a three-year period.

They appeared to benefit by almost €500,000 in salaries and cars over the period from 2012 to 2014, the audit has also established.