Aware chief warns Console controversy may impact other charities

Charities Regulator would not have made a difference in Console’s case, Dominic Layden says

The Console controversy has the potential to strongly impact the charity sector of Ireland, the head of Aware has warned.

Dominic Layden, chief executive of mental health charity Aware, was speaking the day after a decision was made to shut down suicide prevention charity Console.

Console is due to run out of funds next week and it is expected to cease operations at that point.

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement has launched a criminal investigation into Console this week.


According to a Health Service Executive audit, founder Paul Kelly, his wife and son ran up credit card bills of almost €500,000 on items such as groceries, designer clothes and foreign trips over a three-year period.

Mr Kelly, his wife Patricia and their son Tim, benefitted by almost €500,000 in salaries and cars over the period from 2012 to 2014, the audit has also established.

Mr Layden said the Console saga has the potential to have a significant impact on the charity sector in Ireland.

“There were major breaches in honesty. Even if the Charities Regulator had been in place with full powers it wouldn’t have made a difference in this case,” Mr Layden said.

Mr Layden said there was now “a bigger issue at stake” facing the many Section 38 and Section 39 organisations receiving funding from the Health Service Executive (HSE).

“It should be clear why these organisations are getting funding, how it is being used and the impact the service is having,” he said.

He said the regulator was getting to grips with the job of monitoring over 8,700 charities in the country, checking they are all registered and fully compliant.

Mr Layden said he was concerned users of services such as Console and Aware might have lost confidence in the sector and would not reach out for support.

He said Aware received 15 per cent of its funding from the HSE with the remaining 85 per cent coming from public, private and corporate donations.

“Every year we are dependent on the public for donations. If we don’t have funding we can’t provide services,” Mr Layden said.

“Our job is to ensure that every single penny we receive is accounted for so the public has confidence in us and our service. We would encourage people to check out our website to see all the details”