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Sunday 18 March 2018

Ex-Console boss gets extra welfare payment as former staff offered jobs

Former Console chief Paul Kelly Photo: Robbie Reynolds
Former Console chief Paul Kelly Photo: Robbie Reynolds
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Former Console chief Paul Kelly is now drawing a supplementary welfare allowance - which is paid to people who do not have enough income to meet their needs and those of their families.

The High Court was told earlier this week that Mr Kelly, who lavishly spent charity funds on his own lifestyle, needed one of his bank accounts to be unfrozen in order to lodge the €300 a week he and his wife Patricia are claiming from the Department of Social Protection.

Barry Cowen Photo: Tom Burke 2/6/2016
Barry Cowen Photo: Tom Burke 2/6/2016

The basic supplementary welfare allowance is made up of a personal rate for the applicant, and additional amounts for any adult dependants or children.

It comes as former counsellors with Console, who were erratically paid and due arrears, have been offered three-month contracts by Pieta House.

The High Court was told that Mr Kelly is seeking access to documentation held on Console's main computer in relation to payroll in order to generate a P45 and claim unemployment benefit instead.

The computer was seized by the Director of Corporate Enforcement, which is investigating the financial affairs of the former charity.

He has total monthly payments of €5,300 on his four-bedroom home in Clane in Kildare and the former Console headquarters in Celbridge.

Meanwhile, Pieta House confirmed it is now offering the services previously delivered by Console, prior to the charity's liquidation. It has offered Console counsellors three-month contracts initially.

It said that the staff who formerly worked at Console have been offered employment "as we considered it vitally important to continue to offer these much-needed services to those who need to access them now".

"Pieta House are continuing to use all the centres where Console services had been offered and we will take time to explore the options in terms of keeping each premises going as there may be a possibility in the future of integrating the services into Pieta House's existing centres."

It said that the telephone numbers that people previously used to contact Console services had been transferred to Pieta House, so clients can continue to use the numbers they have used up to now.

"We have also taken over the 24/7 Suicide Helpline - 1800 247 247 - so we would encourage anyone who needs us to contact that number.

"Pieta House exists to serve people in crisis. We have a strong team across Ireland and will do everything possible to ensure that current users of the bereavement services will receive the same high quality service from Pieta House going forward," said chief executive Brian Higgins.

"There has been a synergy between our work and the work of Console in the past decade, so we felt there was an onus on us to engage in this process to ensure that clients will receive the best quality services.

"There has never been a question over the staff who worked for Console and the quality of the service that has been delivered. We would hope that the huge public support that exists for all of these services can be retained.

"We would also ask people for a degree of patience."

Irish Independent

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