Console chief Paul Kelly no longer at helm of charity

High Court blocks access to bank accounts and injuncts founder and family from role

The Charities Regulator has appointed five new board members to assume control of suicide prevention charity Console. Photograph: Getty Images

The Charities Regulator has appointed five new board members to assume control of suicide prevention charity Console. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Console founder Paul Kelly has been effectively banished from the suicide prevention charity he still claims to lead.

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

Lawyers for the company who applied for the injunction said it was required to “steady the ship” and ensure important counselling services were maintained.

Separately, the Charities Regulator has appointed five new board members to assume control of the scandal-ridden organisation.

The appointments, designed to shore up the governance of the charity, were made by regulator John Farrelly using his statutory powers.

Businessman David Hall, who had no connection to the charity until he was appointed a week ago to review its accounts and governance, has been appointed interim chief executive.

Mr Hall has said he will draw no salary while occupying this role.

In the High Court, Mr Justice Paul Gilligan made orders freezing Console’s bank accounts save for those with written instructions from Mr Hall.

Martin Hayden SC, who made the application on behalf of Console, said Mr Kelly, who initially said he was resigning, had resiled from that position and gave interviews saying he was still chief executive.

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.

Console funds

He also ordered the return of all goods and property including, but not limited to, any assets paid for with Console funds.

In an affidavit, Mr Hall said he was informed by the three directors remaining after Mr Kelly’s wife and sister resigned from the board that the three did not even know they were directors and had not attended functions, events or activities of Console. They had no hand, act or part in running the charity and were not notified, nor attended, any meetings of the board, they said.

At a meeting last Monday with Mr Kelly and his wife, at which Mr Hall sought the handover of keys and records on foot of their resignations, it became heated and Mr Kelly alleged he had not in fact resigned, said Mr Hall.

The computer which holds staff payroll and payment records had also been removed from the office, he said.

In a statement issued after the authority met yesterday, Mr Farrelly said he has been assured immediate action is being taken to protect the assets of Console and to ensure the continuation of the services it provides.

“The role of a charity trustee is to provide governance and leadership, ensure the charity is in compliance with the law and ensure that the charity is carrying out its charitable purposes for the public benefit,” said Mr Farrelly.

The five trustees are: Diarmaid Ó Corrbuí, chief executive of the Carmichael Centre for voluntary groups and chairman of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland; Shelley Horan, barrister and adjunct assistant professor of law at Trinity College Dublin; Bernie Gray, a former worker director with Eircom and a partner in Betterboards consultancy; Shay Ellis, human resources consultant and chairman of Westmeath Citizen’s Information Centre; and Penelope Kenny, chartered accountant.