Tuesday 24 April 2018

'We exposed Kelly 26 years ago, I guess some people never change'

MEP Mairead McGuinness worked on a programme in 1990 which exposed Mr Kelly’s dealings Picture: Tom Burke
MEP Mairead McGuinness worked on a programme in 1990 which exposed Mr Kelly’s dealings Picture: Tom Burke

David Kearns

MEP Mairead McGuinness first helped expose Paul Kelly 26 years ago and said she cannot believe the disgraced Console director was allowed to take advantage of another charity.

In 1989, Mr Kelly founded Christian Development Services, a group which helped provide low-cost counselling sessions to those unable to afford private care.

The organisation folded after serious financial irregularities lead to Mr Kelly being forced from the position of CEO by staff outraged at his behaviour.

It would soon emerge that under his stewardship the charity had failed to pay any tax or PRSI and owed the Revenue some IR£100,000 despite collecting, on average, IR£3,000 weekly from its various counselling centres.

Ms McGuinness told the Irish Independent of her involvement in the RTÉ One consumer watchdog programme 'Look Here' while working as a reporter in the 1980s.

The programme was presented by Marian Finucane and ran a special about Mr Kelly and his running of Christian Development Services.

"It is extraordinary that a programme RTÉ did in 1990 on an individual could so closely mirror events in 2016, almost three decades on," Ms McGuinness said. "I guess some leopards really don't change their spots."

Mr Kelly, alongside his wife Patricia and their son Tim, is accused of running up credit card bills of almost €500,000 between 2012 and 2014 while he was CEO of Console.

A HSE audit also details how the trio benefited by almost €500,000 in salaries and cars during the same period.

These allegations came to light following an exposé by RTÉ's 'Prime Time' investigation team last week.

"Last Thursday, I remember sitting down to watch 'Prime Time' and as the show went on, thinking 'this guy rings a bell'," Ms McGuinness said.

"Slowly, it started to click and then I realised it was the same Paul Kelly we'd worked so hard to expose back in the early 1990s.

"He took in an awful lot of money at the time and was never able to explain what happened with it."

Asked if she was surprised by the ongoing Console scandal, Ms McGuinness added: "Clearly, he wasn't too put off by the programme despite running away to Australia after it aired."

Contacted by the Irish Independent about the alleged IR£100,000 owed to Revenue, a spokesperson for the Commissioners declined to comment, saying that they were prevented by law from doing so.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News