Sunday 19 February 2017

HSE not told flag was raised about Console chief

Laura Larkin

Published 12/07/2016 | 02:30

A spokesman for former health minister James Reilly said the senator’s statement was '100pc truthful and accurate.' Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
A spokesman for former health minister James Reilly said the senator’s statement was '100pc truthful and accurate.' Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

The Department of Health did not advise the HSE that it had brought disgraced Console founder Paul Kelly in to answer questions about the fact he had impersonated a doctor in the 1980s.

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A principal officer in the department, acting on a tip-off from a parliamentary assistant, raised the issue with Mr Kelly in 2011. However, no briefing was prepared for the then Health Minister James Reilly and the HSE was not notified about the events.

Despite a flag being raised about Mr Kelly's past within the department, State funding to Console more than trebled between 2012 and 2014. The HSE grant-aided Console with €252,114 in 2012 and increased it to €598,557 in 2013. It jumped again to €855,227 in 2014.

Tommy Morris, who was working for TD Derek Keating in 2011, said he raised concerns with the minister about Mr Kelly's suitability as a person in receipt of public funds and was advised to contact an official in the department.

Conflicting accounts of what was said and where it was said have emerged between both Senator Reilly and Mr Morris. However, Dr Reilly did not respond to repeated attempts by the Irish Independent to clarify these discrepancies in recent days.

Mr Morris claims he gave the former health minister a folder which contained information about Mr Kelly and details of funding given to Console. Mr Morris said this happened in late 2011 after first raising the issue in the foyer of the Shelbourne Hotel earlier that day.

Read more: Questions over what Reilly knew in 2011

He also said he went on to raise the issue several times with Dr Reilly and did so "passionately".

Mr Morris first said the concerns were raised in 2013 but says he has since realised he was mistaken on the date.

In response, Dr Reilly has said he met with Mr Morris on several occasions, explaining: "I do recall Tommy raising Paul Kelly with me on one such occasion in the Dáil canteen, but nothing specific".

However, Mr Morris has said he never spoke about Mr Kelly in the canteen.

Last night the recently reappointed Fine Gael deputy leader declined to answer further questions, with a spokesman for the senator saying that the statement was "100pc truthful and accurate", and that Dr Reilly wouldn't be commenting further.

Revelation

Dr Reilly was asked a number of questions by this paper, including whether he passed the file given to him by Mr Morris to the HSE. He was also asked if it was the first time he was made aware of Mr Kelly's impersonation of a doctor, which occurred in Baggot Street Hospital.

He was also asked if he followed up with the department after Mr Kelly was brought in, if he was briefed informally on the probe and if he, or anyone else, requested that the charity's funds be more closely monitored following the revelation.

Mr Morris also said he was never asked to file an official complaint with the department in 2011 and said he would have had no problem doing so at the time.

However, a spokesman for the department has said Mr Morris was asked to file an official complaint and declined to do so.

Read more: State shows how helpless it is in face of charity scandals

The department spokesman also said that at no point was concerns raised about the governance or financial dealings of Console at that time.

A HSE spokesperson told the Irish Independent: "No new information was given to the department which was not already a matter of public record."

Irish Independent

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