herald

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Closure of charity will leave trail of debt and cost staff jobs

Interim CEO David Hall. Photo: Collins Courts
Interim CEO David Hall. Photo: Collins Courts

The closure of Console will leave a massive trail of debt and cost the jobs of its 12 staff who are owed €86,000.

The decision to wind up the charity - set up in 2002 to provide counselling to people bereaved by suicide - was taken at a high-level meeting yesterday between interim chief executive David Hall and the HSE.

It comes after two tumultuous weeks of revelations about the squandering of charity funds by Console founder, Paul Kelly.

A court application to liquidate the charity is to be made in the next week.

People who are currently undergoing counselling at its centres in Dublin and around the country are to be offered a transfer to another charity, such as Pieta House.

The HSE said it will bankroll the transfer of the service to another counselling agency at a cost of around €100,000 a month.

Pledged

The HSE pledged to continue to support the 24/7 suicide helpline, the suicide bereavement liaison service and counselling under new providers.

"All parties at the meeting reiterated that the over-riding priority is the continuation of services to clients who are currently availing of them."

The hope is that Console counsellors, who were mostly employed by the hour, will continue to provide the service under the new arrangement and ensure the transition is as seamless as possible for their clients at such a vulnerable point in their lives.

A full trawl of the charity's financial liabilities is still under way, but many creditors - including staff and one counsellor - are unlikely to ever be fully paid.

Hundreds of thousands of euro are believed due to suppliers and around €70,000 is owed to the Revenue Commissioners.

The two cars owned by Paul Kelly and his wife, a Mercedes and Audi, will be auctioned off along with a property off the Navan Road in Dublin.

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