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Console boss spent €130,000 on credit cards in nun's name

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Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly

The founder of suicide prevention charity Console ran up €128,169 on credit cards belonging to a nun, the Herald can reveal.

Between 2012 and 2014, Paul Kelly used two credit cards assigned to a Sister Margaret Joyce DC - a former employee of the suicide charity, who had left the organisation at least six years previously.

During this time €128,169 was spent using these credit cards, including cash withdrawals equalling €28,785.

According to a HSE audit carried out in 2015, "inconsistent, vague and inaccurate information" was provided regarding the identity of the person named on these credit cards used by Mr Kelly.

Sr Joyce's order, the Daughters of Charity, told the Herald it was "imperative that this matter be brought to the urgent attention of the gardai".

It is understood that Sr Joyce left Console in 2010 after working in the group's centre on the Navan Road in north Dublin, and is in no way implicated in the alleged financial irregularities that are dogging Mr Kelly, his wife Patricia and their son Tim following their resignation from the charity's board.

Following revelations by the RTE's Investigates Team, the three individuals are accused of running up credit card bills of almost €500,000 between 2012 and 2014. It's claimed they used charity credit cards to pay for groceries, designer clothes and foreign trips.

During this period - in August 2013 - President Michael D Higgins was named as patron of the bereavement charity.

From 2012 to 2014, Mr Kelly and his wife received significant payments and benefits from Console.

He was paid €218,586, and given a 2009 Mercedes CLS and four credit cards. His wife received €67,149, plus a fully-expensed 2010 Audi Q5.

Yesterday, the chairman of the Dail's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) called an emergency meeting with the Health Service Executive (HSE) as the fallout from the scandal continued.

Lavish

Fianna Fail TD Sean Fleming told the Herald the PAC will meet with the HSE next week.

The issue of lavish spending by the charity's chief executive and his wife and son was raised for a second day in the Dail.

Minister for State Helen McEntee said all funding had been stopped pending investigations, adding the matter was now with An Garda Siochana and the regulator.

Despite these investigations, the PAC has weighed into the saga.

The spending watchdog yesterday wrote to the HSE requesting a copy of the internal audit report.

Mr Fleming, the committee chairman, is also seeking the service level agreements between the HSE and Console.

"I am calling the HSE into a meeting with the PAC in early July," the Laois TD said.

"What I would emphasise, however, is that it is important the good work of Console must continue.

"The damage done by the latest revelations must also be brought to a quick conclusion," he added.

Comfort

Last night, the president of the Irish Association Of Suicidology Dan Neville said while he was disappointed in the Console revelations, he wasn't surprised.

"We had some concerns about [Paul Kelly] four years ago, though not in regard to the operation of Console, but we didn't have much evidence…

"With the HSE prepared to substantially front him, I suppose we took some comfort in that and assumed its systems would ensure, given the level of funding involved, that every cent would be properly accounted for.

"Given these concerns, and his well documented past, I always felt that something [like this] might happen with Kelly in charge."


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