Tuesday 21 November 2017

Celia Larkin moves to distance herself from Console UK

Celia Larkin. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Celia Larkin. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

Wayne O'Connor and Tim Healy

Celia Larkin last night moved to distance herself from the board of a Console UK charity after it emerged she was named as a trustee of the organisation, in court.

A 'Celia Larkin' was named as a trustee of a UK charity called 'Console Suicide Prevention Ltd' which had links to the Irish charity.

This prompted the former partner of Bertie Ahern, Celia Larkin, to clarify the situation.

Ms Larkin said that she agreed to become a member of the board of Console UK, but she never attended any board meeting nor was invited to do so.

The High Court heard yesterday that further investigations into Console have brought to light transactions between its sister organisation in the UK. Freezing orders obtained by the interim CEO of Console in Ireland, David Hall, should be notified to the English bank which handled the transactions, Keith Farry, counsel for Console, said.

Mr Farry said since the orders were obtained against Paul Kelly and his wife Patricia Dowling, preventing them accessing its accounts, links with the UK charity which is called 'Console Suicide Prevention Ltd' had come to light. It followed further investigations by Mr Hall, who was appointed by the other Console directors and who brought the court proceedings to ensure the charity's services are maintained and to secure its assets.

The trustees of the UK body were Mr Kelly and his wife, their son Tim Kelly, and the name of a fourth trustee allegedly appointed on May 7, 2015, was a 'Celia Larkin', Mr Farry said.

Last night Celia Larkin told RTE News that in May 2015, she was invited to become a member of the board of Console UK and she agreed to become a board member. In October 2015, Ms Larkin said she attended the formal launch of Console UK at Westminster. Shortly afterwards, the friend who had invited her to become a board member resigned from the organisation.

Ms Larkin said that in January 2016 she resigned from the board of Console UK and wrote to the Companies Registration Office informing them of this. She said that at no stage did she attend a board meeting or did she receive any invitation to do so.

Information had also emerged about three linked properties around the country as well as about a Paypal account, the court heard.

Solicitors for Console have had difficulty contacting the director Paul Kelly and his wife Patricia and in serving notices of proceedings personally, despite making phone calls and sending text messages and emails the court was told. Mr Farry said he called to the Kelly address at Alexandra Manor, Clane, Co Kildare, and found the property had electric gates and there was no response when he rang.

The postbox was overflowing with letters and it appeared nobody had been there for some time.

The Charities Regulator appointed five new board members to assume control of the scandal-ridden organisation.

Among them is David Hall, who described accounts filed by the charity last year as "horrific". "I've never spent seven days like I've spent these seven days," he added.

Also, in light of the revelations about the charity, the People of the Year awards have made contact with Paul Kelly asking him to return the honour he received from them in 2014. A spokesperson for the awards said the move was made to protect their integrity.

Irish Independent

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