Minister needs to decide if Console can continue, says David Hall

Interim boss says ‘no donations are coming in and there is a cost in providing the service’

Minister for Health Simon Harris needs to decide whether Console should continue, according to the interim chief executive of the embattled suicide charity.

David Hall said on Wednesday "no donations are coming in and there is a cost in providing the service. Protecting services should be paramount along with the team, but not necessarily the organisation," he said.

He said it costs around €100,000 a month to run the services and the Health Service Executive provided €70,000 of this.

He said Mr Harris and Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health Helen McEntee needed to make a call on whether the service should continue.


He said it was his personal view Console might not continue. Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Mr Hall said a lot of money seemed to be used in direct debit and credit card transactions and there were legacy issues in terms of bills outstanding, including a €19,000 telephone bill.

Mr Hall was drafted in a week ago to take over after the resignation of Console founder and chief executive Paul Kelly, following revelations in an internal HSE audit on lack of financial controls and governance at the charity.

It found Mr Kelly, his wife Patricia Kelly and son Tim Kelly ran up credit card bills of almost €500,000 on items such as groceries, designer clothes and foreign trips over a three-year period from 2012 to 2014.

It also found they benefitted by almost €500,000 in salaries and cars over the same period. High Court orders are now in place against the Kellys freezing their access to the charity's accounts.

Mr Kelly, the court heard, has been admitted to hospital. Mr Hall said on radio on Wednesday that Console provided 5,681 one to one counselling sessions last year.

It was answering 29 phone calls to its helpline each day, one third of which were from new people looking for help.

He also confirmed the Revenue Commissioners has begun an investigation into the suicide charity and appears to be owed at least €70,000 by the charity.

Five different other State agencies are already investigating Console; the HSE, the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, the Charities Regulatory Authority, the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and the Public Accounts Committee.