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Thursday 29 September 2016

Kelly faces being sued for Console cash as it shuts with €300,000 debts

Eilish O'Regan and Tim Healy

Published 15/07/2016 | 02:30

Former Console chief Paul Kelly
Former Console chief Paul Kelly

Disgraced Console chief Paul Kelly, who lavishly spent charity funds on his personal lifestyle, will be pursued for some of the money after Console closed yesterday with crushing debts of almost €300,000.

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Interim CEO David Hall told the Irish Independent that legal proceedings were under way to secure "the return of monies".

This could see assets such as the Kellys' plush family home in Clane, Co Kildare, being seized.

Mr Hall was speaking after the High Court had liquidated Console and it was announced that another charity, Pieta House, will take over the operation of its helpline, the suicide bereavement liaison service and the counselling service.

The liquidator will now have to decide how to deal with the trail of outstanding debt, amounting to €294,808, including €77,500 due to Revenue, €74,421 owing in wages and €90,860 to suppliers.

The HSE will transfer the funding it was paying Console to provide the service to Pieta House, but this will be more costly, at around €1.5m a year.

Pieta House chief Brian Higgins has said he will be talking to former Console counsellors in the coming days and the hope is that there will be continuity for the 317 people who were receiving support from Console following the death of a loved one from suicide.

He will also be talking to the landlords of the various counselling centres used by Console with a view to maintaining them as part of the new system.

Mr Hall said that Console's 12 staff would be offered statutory redundancy but that they were still owed outstanding wages.

He declined to divulge the list of assets submitted to the court by Mr Kelly, but said that it held no surprises.

Mr Kelly, who a HSE audit revealed had spent extravagant sums of the charity's funds on cars and foreign travel, was not present in court yesterday for the final winding-up of the charity he founded.

Scandal

His legal team made a separate application to the court on Wednesday to free up some money to allow for his family's living expenses.

Mr Kelly was briefly a patient in a psychiatric hospital following the scandal, but has since been discharged.

Mr Hall said that part of the switching of the service to Pieta House involved protection of client data. This was overseen by the court.

The injunctions freezing bank accounts remain.

The liquidator now takes over the legal proceedings, which were lodged for the pursuit of monies, said Mr Hall.

Seven separate investigations are under way into the financial irregularities and running of the charity.

Irish Independent

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