Sunday 27 May 2018

'Paul Kelly became my hero ... I am sick from what I've been hearing' - broadcaster's shock

Gareth O’Callaghan refused an offer to become Console’s CEO
Gareth O’Callaghan refused an offer to become Console’s CEO

Broadcaster Gareth O'Callaghan said he is saddened and shocked by revelations of financial mismanagement at the suicide prevention charity Console.

He said it has taken him days to gain the courage to speak out about the alleged irregularities at a charity that has been close to his heart for a long time.

Console's disgraced director Paul Kelly contacted Mr O'Callaghan 10 years ago asking him to become their new CEO.

It came just after Mr O'Callaghan had revealed his own struggles with mental health.

Mr O'Callaghan said Kelly, his wife Patricia and their son Tim have a lot to answer for.

"Paul Kelly became my hero, like he did for so many people.

"His sister Sharon's death by suicide was the seed that saw Console grow into what it quickly became - thanks to its dedicated, tireless staff and volunteers and fundraisers.


"I am sick from what I've been reading in recent days. The charity is front-page news this week for shocking reasons."

He said he refused the offer to become CEO but continued to assist the charity when he could.

"I had lost two close friends through suicide. I had also struggled for years with severe depression and had felt very suicidal a number of times," said Mr O'Callaghan.

"I was very flattered by his offer, but following a chance to consider it, I declined, mainly because I had no experience whatsoever of heading up a charity, let alone one that I knew was destined to quickly become one of Ireland's foremost charities.

"I continued to work as a frontline supporter and volunteer for Console for a couple of years, becoming the public face and voice of the charity when asked."

He enjoyed the work.

"Many people I met during that time had lost loved ones in indescribably tragic circumstances.

"I felt so honoured and privileged to be sharing their deeply private pain and loss and anger and love and confusion," he said.

He wants Mr Kelly to explain what happened at the charity.

"I don't know who exactly will judge you [Paul Kelly], but clearly your conscience will continue to ask you the questions that, for now, you are pretending you are not obliged to answer," he said.

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