Sunday 17 December 2017

Shamed Console chief 'detached from reality' over business plans

Former Console chief Paul Kelly. Photo: Conor McCabe
Former Console chief Paul Kelly. Photo: Conor McCabe
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

Disgraced Console boss Paul Kelly’s plans to set up a new business working with victims of bereavement have been described as “concerning” by the man who had to wind-up the scandal-hit charity.

It emerged at the weekend that Kelly has registered the name of a new “for profit” business called Sanctuary Consultants, to work with victims of bereavement and suicidal thoughts.

He also went live with the website even though the company name has not yet even been registered.

However, David Hall, the former interim CEO of Console who had to wind it down and see its operations transferred to the Pieta House charity, said that Kelly seems to be “completely detached from reality”.

“While there is an element of sympathy on a human level, Google is a powerful thing, and anyone who wants to engage with someone who is under investigation by a number of State organisations and who has had funding pulled by the Health Service Executive (HSE) would need to be wary,” he told the Herald.

“There seems to be a detachment from reality. In running any organisation dealing with vulnerable people it is clear that there is a significant attachment to public trust and confidence. This move (to set up a new organisation) is concerning but in many ways it is not surprising that he would try and re-enter the marketplace,” Mr Hall added.

Information on the Sanctuary Consultants website described it as “one of Ireland’s leading providers of integrated occupational health, Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) and well-being Services for Companies and Organisations.”

“The company will assist employers by providing counsellors to help with employees who are experiencing issues including stress, depression, substance abuse, grief, bereavement and suicidal ideation,” it said.

Asked this week whether he believes he should be returning to the field of mental illness, Kelly said he is currently not working and is living on social welfare.

“I’m not working. I’m trying to look at ways of looking for employment, looking for a future,” he said.

Meanwhile, a house owned by the former Console charity has gone sale agreed after massive interest from potential buyers.

The property, on Ardpatrick Road in Dublin 7, was advertised with an asking price of €495,000, but the offer currently being processed is in the region of €570,000.

The five-bed house went up for sale after the charity’s former CEO became embroiled in a financial scandal involving lavish spending of the charity's cash.

The details of his spending of charitable funds were uncovered in an internal audit by the HSE. The audit revealed that Kelly, his wife and his son cost the charity almost €1m over three years.

Around €500,000 was spent on foreign trips, designer clothes, eating out and other expenses between 2012 and 2014.

Kelly, and his wife Patricia, who was a director of Console, drove top-of-the-range Audi and Mercedes company cars which cost the charity more than €87,000.

They were later forced to relinquish the vehicles.


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