Sunday 19 January 2020

Former Console chief invited HSE official on junket to London

Former Console chief Paul Kelly. Photo: Conor McCabe
Former Console chief Paul Kelly. Photo: Conor McCabe
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Shamed Console suicide charity chief Paul Kelly offered to bring a senior official in the National Office for Suicide Prevention in the HSE on an expenses-paid trip to the House of Lords in London last year, the Irish Independent has learned.

The invitation to his paymaster body was sent last September in advance of Console opening a centre in the UK which was formally launched in the House of Lords on October 12.

In correspondence, Mr Kelly said costs and hotel accommodation "have been sponsored" so he could "organise your travel arrangements from this end".

Mr Kelly, whose lavish spending of funds at the charity was under investigation by the HSE's audit team at the time, said he would also try to organise a tour of the House of Lords and House of Commons.

The audit revealed months later that Mr Kelly squandered vast sums of funding at the charity which had an income of more than €5m over three years. He was found to have flagrantly abused funding from donations and the HSE on his personal lifestyle, including exotic travel.

Console is now in liquidation and several probes are under way while Mr Kelly is drawing social welfare.

The UK centre is also under investigation by the UK's Charity Commission. It froze two bank accounts belonging to the charity's London arm that contained around €51,000.

At the time it announced the probe it said it related to the nature of concerns reported. These include, but were not limited to, allegations of falsifying of accounts to obtain funding, significant private benefit, conflicts of interest, and financial mismanagement, it said.

Mr Kelly was donated a consulting room near Buckingham Palace by the family of the late footballer Gary Speed.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, which gave Console more than €160,000 for the UK office, said yesterday that its investigations were continuing.

The UK centre was run by Mr Kelly's son Tim (23) who was on a tax-free salary of £600 a week, according to the audit findings.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News