Thursday 14 December 2017

Journalist Charlie Bird pulls book royalties from Console in light of controversy over charity's finances

Journalist and author Charlie Bird. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Journalist and author Charlie Bird. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

Veteran Irish journalist Charlie Bird has announced that royalties for his new book will no longer go towards suicide charity Console in light of recent controversy over the charity's finances.

Published last month, “A Day in May” is an account of last year’s gay marriage referendum when Irish people made history by becoming the first country in the world to introduce marriage equality by popular vote

All proceeds from the sale of the book were to go directly to Console.

However, today, Charlie Bird announced that royalties will now go towards suicide awareness, rather than the charity itself, due to the "serious financial concerns in relation to the organisation".

RTE Investigates revealed last night the lavish spending of charity funds on foreign travel, cars, designer clothes, restaurants and €2,083 worth of Rugby World Cup tickets has emerged in an investigation of the suicide-bereavement organisation Console.

The founder and former CEO Paul Kelly, his wife Patricia and their son Tim benefited by almost €500,000 in salaries and cars between 2012 and 2014.

A further €500,000 was spent using Console credit cards on items including clothes from Ralph Lauren and Hugo Boss, foreign trips and groceries.

Mr Kelly's son Tim, who was director of services at Console in the UK, was on a tax-free salary of £600 per week.

The charity regulator John Farrelly is expected to take legal moves to secure the organisation while it is under investigation by gardaí and the HSE.

Charlie Bird announced today: “No money from A Day In May gone to Console… Royalties from book will go to suicide awareness. Needed more than ever.”

Meanwhile, a more extensive statement on the book’s website read: “On publication of a Day in May it was stated that all proceeds from the sale of the book would go to the suicide awareness organisation, Console.”

“It is with sincere regret that we have learned of the serious financial concerns in relation to the organisation and we feel it would be inappropriate to make any contribution to it at this time.”

“An initial royalty sum is available for payment at this time. We are more aware than ever of the urgency of supporting suicide awareness so we are going to fully investigate other suicide support charities to whom we can then give the funds.”

“When there are further funds available in the future the trustees of a Day in May will review the situation.”

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