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CEO of suicide charity Console resigns as "history of deception" is revealed

The alleged bizarre financial practices of the charity were the subject of a RTÉ Investigations Unit special screened tonight.

File Photo CONCERNS HAVE BEEN raised about the governance and financial management of suicide prevention charity Console. A report by RTE Investigates, Broken Trust, due to air tonight will reveal irregularities about the charity's finances in relation to Paul Kelly Source: Mark Stedman

Updated 22.28

THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE of suicide charity Console, Paul Kelly, has resigned.

The news that Kelly had stepped down came in advance of a RTÉ Investigations Unit special for Prime Time broadcast on RTÉ One this evening which claimed that Kelly has a “history when it comes to misrepresentation and deception”, including, amongst other things, the fact that he had once pretended to be a doctor and got a job at the Royal City of Dublin Hospital on Dublin’s Baggot Street.

It’s understood that Kelly’s wife Patricia has also resigned from the board of the charity.

The board of Console is appointing external reviewers to conduct an investigation into alleged financial irregularities at the charity.

The two reviewers are a forensic accountant Tom Murray, and David Hall, CEO of the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation.

4/11/2013 Allied irish banks helping with Mortgages Crisis David Hall Source: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Speaking to TheJournal.ie Hall confirmed Kelly’s resignation and said that the three people stepping down was a condition of the review being commissioned by the board.

“We’re to conduct a 60-day review into the situation,” Hall said.

In anticipation of this the board have already agreed to accept whatever our findings are.
It is of the utmost importance that the services provided, and the staff who work there and the people who use those services are protected and that this very important service is safeguarded.

Hall has not as yet seen tonight’s programme.

“I haven’t seen it but we will get to the bottom of this and we will sort it out,” he said.

The review is to begin tomorrow morning at 9.30am.

“History of deception”

Tonight’s RTÉ Investigations Unit report, entitled Broken Trust, details an investigation into financial practices at the charity.

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 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 states that Kelly “has a history of misrepresentation and deception”.

Among the examples stated is the fact that in 1983 Kelly posed as a doctor at the Royal City of Dublin Hospital and worked there for three weeks until gardaí were alerted.

He subsequently admitted to the offence in Dublin’s District Court in June 1983.

The RTÉ Investigations Unit contacted six people who Console listed as being board members when applying for funding from the HSE in 2009. All six stated that they were not members.

Among them was former senator Jillian van Turnhout.

“I am stunned – I have never been a member of the board of Console, in fact I have had no interaction with Console,” she told the programme.

Through my lifetime, the height of my interaction has been to tweet their helpline number. To misrepresent me in this way to a state body such as the HSE greatly concerns me.

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.

The HSE today confirmed that its internal audit function had been asked to audit Console “following concerns that arose following an examination of the 2013 returns that were received in late 2014″.

“The internal audit commenced in April 2015.  Concerns arose in a number of areas including corporate governance in the organisation and financial management,” the executive said in a statement.

The end date for that process is not yet known. The HSE could not confirm whether or not it will be reconsidering funding the charity.

First published 21.18

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