Saturday 25 March 2017

'We were completely left in the dark' - Console therapists 'astounded' by spending scandal

Paul Kelly, former CEO of the charity Console Photo: Robbie Reynolds
Paul Kelly, former CEO of the charity Console Photo: Robbie Reynolds

Meadhbh McGrath

A therapist working with the suicide bereavement organisation Console has said she was ‘astounded and gutted’ by the revelations about the spending of charity funds.

The founder and former CEO Paul Kelly, his wife Patricia and their son Tim were found to have spent up to €1m through salaries and the use of Console credit cards.

RTE Investigates reported the scandal last night, revealing that the three of them had used 11 credit cards between them to spend on foreign trips, cars, designer clothes, restaurants and groceries.

Read More: Console funds spent on travel, clothes, cars and rugby tickets

Console therapist Marie McDonagh told RTE Radio One’s Liveline that she had no idea what had been going on.

“We were completely left in the dark. We are astounded and gutted about what’s happened. I really feel for my clients,” she said.

“We had no idea what was going to be revealed, we’re absolutely devastated.”

Marie said she has worked with Console in Galway for 18 months, and that there had frequently been delays with payment.

“We haven’t been paid as therapists ever on time. At the moment, I’m owed about €2,500 by Paul Kelly,” she said.

“We were due a cheque at Christmas and we never got paid until Good Friday, three months later.”

Marie explained that clients give whatever they can afford, up to €30 per session, and that the therapists are paid separately, usually €37.50 per client per session.

Read More: Regulator expected to order takeover of suicide charity after spending row

“Sometimes I would have to call looking for the payment and it wasn’t received very well,” she added, and said that numerous emails from her supervisor to Paul Kelly went unanswered.

Despite the ongoing issues with payment, Marie said she would continue to see her clients regardless of what happens in Console, a sentiment she said many therapists share.

“As a therapist, we’re not going to let the clients down,” she said.

“Even if Console closes I will continue the work that I started with any of my clients and charge them whatever they give Console, whether that’s €5 or €30. I think that’s the way a lot of therapists feel.”

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