James Reilly ‘recalls’ being contacted about Paul Kelly concerns
Former Fine Gael parliamentary assistant says he contacted Reilly about Kelly in 2013
James Reilly said he recalled Tommy Morris discussing Paul Kelly with him but said no specific claims were made. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Former minister for health James Reilly has said he “recalls” concerns about Console founder Paul Kelly being raised with him a number of years ago.
Mr Reilly was responding to reports that a former Fine Gael parliamentary assistant Tommy Morris contacted Dr Reilly in 2013 about Mr Kelly and suggested State funding for Console be suspended.
Mr Kelly last week resigned as chief executive following controversy over lack of financial controls at the charity.
Mr Reilly said on Saturday he had advised Mr Morris to put his concerns in writing but said there was no evidence of correspondence or meetings with the HSE on the matter.
According to an unpublished internal Health Service Executive audit of Console, Mr Kelly, his wife and son allegedly ran up credit card bills of almost €500,000 on items such as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, appeared to benefit by almost €500,000 in salaries and cars over the period from 2012 to 2014, the audit has also established.
In a statement released on Saturday, Mr Reilly said he had “met Tommy Morris on many occasions” and said “I do recall Tommy raising Paul Kelly with me on one such occasion in the Dáil canteen, but nothing specific”.
“As was my regular practice, I would have advised him to follow up and put these concerns in writing,” he said in the statement. “Any such records should be in the Department of Health.”
“I would like to point out that as a public representative I have always sought to act in the best interests of the public.
“As Minister for Health I commenced the review of payment arrangements within hospital groups, which revealed certain irregularities and led to the revelations at the CRC and elsewhere.
“I am appalled and shocked by the revelations surrounding Console and Paul Kelly and want to offer my support to those great and generous people, especially those on the frontline, who have sought to help some of our most vulnerable citizens in their time of need.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said on Saturday afternoon the department “was made aware by the HSE in 2015 that an internal audit was being carried out by the HSE into the Console agency, arising from concerns that had arisen due to inconsistent sets of accounts obtained by the National Office for Suicide Prevention from Console.
“The former minister and minister of state were informed that a HSE internal audit was underway.”
She said the department’s priority was to “ensure that services continue to be provided, under the most appropriate governance and financial frameworks”.