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Concerns raised about finances at suicide charity Console

A number of irregularities have been uncovered by RTÉ.

Paul Kelly, CEO of Console
Paul Kelly, CEO of Console
Image: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

CONCERNS HAVE BEEN raised about the governance and financial management of suicide prevention charity Console.

A report by RTÉ Investigates, Broken Trust, due to air tonight will reveal irregularities about the charity’s finances in relation to cash receipting, expense claims and financial accounts.

The programme shows that, when applying for state grants and tax exemptions, the charity altered accounts to omit or edit references to directors’ pay and other benefits.

RTÉ also reports that the charity’s directors, from 2010 to early 2014, were made up of founder Paul Kelly, his wife Patricia, a close family relative and, briefly, another immediate relative.

Under Revenue Commission rules, there should be “a minimum of three Officers, Trustees or Directors, who are not related and (are) independent of each other.”

The programme found that Console also submitted accounts to bodies such as the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Health Service Executive (HSE), the charity’s main funder, where Patricia Kelly used her maiden name Patricia Dowling, making it less apparent the directors were related.

In other documents, directors who were members of the Kelly family were registered with varying dates of birth.

The charity also incorrectly claimed certain people, including former independent Senator Jillian van Turnhout, were board members in documents submitted to funders.

The Garda Press Office said they could not comment on the issue, while a representative from Console sent us this statement: “I’m afraid none of us here are in a position to comment right now but we will certainly come back to you if this changes.”

TheJournal.ie has contacted the HSE for comment.

Speaking about the issue in the Dáil this afternoon, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said she is “very concerned” about the allegations.

It is essential that confidence is maintained in the NGO sector. We now have the charities regulatory association and the HSE has finalised an audit into the Console agency. I can say the HSE has confirmed they’ve received no complaints about the services provided by Console. These are very important services in relation to suicide prevention and support to families.

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Órla Ryan

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