herald

Saturday 24 September 2016

HSE gave €321k to Console so far this year but just €53k is left in bank account

Interim Console CEO David Hall arrives at the High Court
Interim Console CEO David Hall arrives at the High Court

The HSE has given €321,498 to Console so far this year - but there is just €53,000 left in the charity's bank account.

The HSE confirmed yesterday that it provides onthly payments to the charity and contributed €622,204 in 2015.

Another Stg£100,000 is in a bank account in the UK, having been transferred to the Console office in London.

An audit of the finances of the London office - set up in 2013 as a service to Irish emigrants - has been delayed.

Interim chief executive David Hall told the Herald that he hopes to meet with Health Minister Simon Harris and Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Helen McEntee with a view to drawing up a plan to secure the future of the charity.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said that she received an email from Ms McEntee to clarify that Console had in fact received €321,498 in HSE funding in 2016.

Wages

The full-time Console staff were paid their wages last Friday and counsellors are due to be paid today.

Three staff tendered their resignations when the revelations of Paul Kelly's financial misconduct first emerged but they have since decided to stay with the organisation which provides an essential counselling service.

Mr Hall said the "elephant in the room" is the legacy payments which are due and have yet to be calculated. The charity has a large list of suppliers to be paid.

Fundraising efforts are also going to be stepped up to counter the expected fall-off in the wake of a loss of public trust.

Meanwhile, a forensic accountant has uncovered further evidence of the extravagant spending by Mr Kelly and members of his family.

Weekly household shopping bills, Netflix subscriptions, flights, Airbnb costs, trips to the dentist and the Local Property Tax were among bills totalling €203k paid using four company credit cards last year.

The spending was outlined in documents submitted to the High Court by Mr Hall.

In papers filed with the court, Mr Hall said the case involved "a tactical and considered web of deceit".

Meanwhile, Health Minister Simon Harris has been asked to consider the introduction of an "amnesty" for charities and organisations that have irregularities regarding their accounts. The request was made in a letter sent to the minister by Cork South West TD Jim Daly.

"I am writing to you to ask you to consider and discuss the introduction of an amnesty of some sort regarding the devolved funding from your department to the Health Service Executive.

"Such an amnesty should, I believe, offer all organisations the opportunity to present accounts outlining the actual position, past and present, for an appropriate number of years."

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