Give me a crash course in... charities’ controversy

Ireland’s charity sector is in the news and, once again, for all the wrong reasons

It's a scandal Which one?

The charities one Which one?

That your man from Console got that €600,000 That wasn't Console. That was your man at the St John of God Brothers, and it was perfectly legitimate.

I thought they said in the High Court this week that he misappropriated a lot of money No. That wasn't him. That was your man from the Carline charity. The High Court was told he misappropriated €161,000 of its funds.


So what's this about Console? The suicide charity's founder, Paul Kelly, his wife, Patricia, and their son, Tim, accrued almost €500,000 in salaries and cars alone from 2012 to 2014, according to an audit by the HSE.

Wow That's not all. There were unvouched cash withdrawals on credit cards, trips to Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and other places, designer clothes – Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss – restaurants, Rugby World Cup tickets, dental work.

Dental work? Paul Kelly visited the dentist seven times between February 2013 and December 2014, paying €1,340.

Seven times? Why? He said it was because he was hit in the mouth by a client at a Console centre in Tralee. Then it was Limerick. But between them Paul, Patricia and Tim Kelly used 11 credit cards over 2012, 2013 and 2014.

What does that mean? Let's spell it out. Over those three years Paul Kelly received consultancy payments of €218,586, a 2009 Mercedes CLS, costing €30,600 (fully expensed), plus what he spent on four credit cards. His wife, Patricia Kelly, received salary payments of €67,149, a 2010 Audi Q5, costing €57,000 (fully expensed), plus what she spent on four credit cards. You might have seen some of this on RTÉ's Prime Time Investigates. Between 2012 and 2014 €736,000 was spent on Console's credit cards. The three Kellys held 11 of the charity's 20 credit cards. The spending on those 11 cards over three years was €464,777. And two of the cards Paul Kelly used were in the name of an employee who had left Console more than six years earlier.

Is that the nun? That's the nun.

Loved that film, by the way. Audrey Hepburn was just stunning

You’re that old? Sr

Margaret Joyce

was on secondment to Console from the Daughters of Charity to help people who were suicidal and families bereaved by suicide. The poor woman, who left Console in 2009, is a total innocent in all this. But, according to the HSE audit, spending on a credit card in her name came to €190,832 for 2012-15.

What? Audrey Hepburn wouldn't have spent that Here's an idea of what this meant. Paul Kelly told HSE auditors that the cost of the charity's two helplines in 2014 was €346,562. The HSE provided €294,000 and Console €52,562. In that year alone €59,450 was spent on the credit card in Sr Margaret's name. And between 2012 and 2014 €736,000 was spent on Console's credit cards. Between 2012 and 2015 Console reduced the number of its helplines from six to two. As the Yanks say, you do the math.

So is that the end of Console? Yes.

What about the service? They will be absorbed by one of the main Irish suicide charities. There are 49, most if not all of which are partly funded by the State.

Why is the State giving a few quid here and a few quid there to all these separate charities rather than providing one sound, solid, properly regulated service? You've got me there.