Suicide charity Console expected to be wound down

Services likely to be transferred to other support groups after HSE audit reveals financial irregularities

paul kelly

Console founder Paul Kelly | Image:

Console is expected to be wound down in the wake of revelations about financial irregularities at the suicide charity.

The HSE met the charity's interim CEO, David Hall, this morning to discuss the future of Console services, which are now likely to be transferred to other support organisations.

It said in a statement that the purpose of the "very constructive meeting" was to discuss how Console's 24/7 Suicide Helpline, the Suicide Bereavement Liaison Service and the Suicide Bereavement Counselling Service can be safeguarded.

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

"The HSE has been considering arrangements for a transition of the three services in the past number of weeks. A major part of today's meeting was to discuss with David Hall a specific proposal for the continuation of the three services."

The talks come amid controversy involving the Kildare-based charity's former CEO Paul Kelly.

Mr Kelly and his wife have been hit with a High Court order preventing them from accessing Console's bank accounts, after they were accused of spending huge sums on foreign holidays and luxury goods.

A HSE audit revealed financial irregularities at the national suicide prevention charity between 2012 and 2014.

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement has launched a probe into the claims.

Console recorded an income of just over €1.9m in 2014, almost half of it from state agencies, mainly the HSE.

The Irish Times reports that officials are considering a number of charities to take over its services once it stops operating. Console is due to run out of money next week, according to the paper. 

Meanwhile, the HSE is due to appear before the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee next week to answer questions about its audit.

Deputy Alan Kelly, who was elected vice-chair of the committee earlier this morning, told Newstalk that a number of PAC members also want the charity regulator to appear before them: