The founder of Irish suicide prevention charity Console, his wife and son ran up credit card bills of almost half a million euro on items such as designer clothes, foreign trips and weekly groceries over a three-year period, according to a long-delayed audit of the charity.
The spending took place even as hard-working suicide counsellors went unpaid and their suicide helpline was downsized.
Between them Paul Kelly, his wife Patricia and their son Tim, used 11 credit cards over the three year period to spend 464,776 euro. Kelly resigned as CEO of the charity last Thursday and has denied allegations of fraud, corruption, mismanagement and poor governance.
Amongst the items the credit cards were used for, were large unvouched cash withdrawals, trips to Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and other destinations, designer clothing in outlets such as Ralph Lauren and Hugo Boss, dining out, rugby world cup tickets and dental work.
The console chief spent 128 thousand euro with credit cards in the name of a nun who had left the charity, it was reported. He used the credit cards of Sr Margaret Joyce, a leading worker in the area of suicide who had been with Console and left six years previously.
Sr Joyce of the Daughters of Charity in Dublin had no absolutely no knowledge that the card in her name continued to be used after she left. A spokesman for the Daughters of Charity said last night: “It is imperative that this be brought to the urgent attention of the gardai.”
Other reports this week recounted bizarre episodes in which Kelly solicited funds as a priest, walked down Grafton Street in Dublin masquerading as an airline pilot, and appeared in court charged with impersonating a doctor.
Console is only the latest Irish charity exposed as being run by a family clique raiding the coffers for their personal use. However, the breadth and scale of the spending has come as a surprise to the Irish public following government pledges to carry out reforms.
Sinn Fein TD and Mental Health and Suicide Prevention spokesperson Pat Buckley TD called on the Dublin government to do more to regulate charities.
“The government must do more to ... identify past abuses and to bring them to light so that people can again have faith in the charities to which they donate,” he said.