HSE 'morally obliged' to pay Kildare charity Console staff says PAC

Committee cites weaknesses in the HSE’s oversight of charity

Conor McHugh

Reporter:

Conor McHugh

Email:

conor@leinsterleader.ie

HSE 'morally obliged' to pay Kildare charity Console staff

Paul Kelly, former CEO of Console.

The Public Accounts Committee has said that the HSE is morally obliged to make a once-off payment to people who were formerly employed by the charity Console.

And crucially, it has said there was a “weaknesses in the HSE’s oversight” of the charity.

In a periodic report issued yesterday, Tuesday, January 23, the PAC explained that staff previously employed by Console had not been fully paid for their work with the organisation.

The Celbridge-based suicide bereavement charity collapsed following revelations in a HSE audit of spending by the CEO Paul Kelly and his family.

In the report the PAC which includes Kildare TD Catherine Murphy, wrote to the Minister for Health on September 25 last regarding staff previously employed by Console.

“The Committee acknowledged that there was no legal responsibility on behalf of the Department of Health or the HSE to pay monies owed,” the report said. However the PAC was of the view that “given the weaknesses in the HSE’s oversight of the charity and the HSE’s delays in dealing with matters at the charity, that there is a moral obligation to pay monies owed to staff who were not fully paid for their work”.

Unfortunately the report does not give any further background explaining its conclusion about the level of the HSE’s oversight. Console had employed 12 fulltime staff and 60 counsellors at the time of its closure. Much of the work being done by the counsellors was taken on by Pieta House, which also works in the area of suicide. 

And while the PAC accepted there was no legal responsibility on the Department of Health or the HSE to do so, they were of the “view that an ex-gratia payment should be made in this exceptional case”.