New powers to enable the Charities Regulator in Ireland to investigate financial mismanagement in charities will come into effect by early September following the recent controversy around Irish suicide counselling charity Console.
The new powers will deal with investigation and also the manner in which charities raise money. This will regulate face-to-face fundraising and charities partnering in commercial activities in return for a small proportion of the income. These regulations are currently going through a process of consultation.
Console has been accused of mismanagement and diversion of charitable assets for personal gain. In particular, Paul Kelly, who established the charity following the death of his sister, and his family have allegedly used charitable funds for personal expenditure on clothes, travel and expensive cars. According to an interim financial report, Mr Kelly spent €252,254.62 on credit cards over the three years, €128,168.53 of which was in the name of a nun who was a former employee.
Console had income of €5 million between 2012 and 2014, of which the Health Service Executive (HSE) provided €1.4 million, with the rest coming from donations and fundraising. Last year, Console UK was launched in the House of Lords and has attracted support from the family of Gary Speed, the footballer who took his own life in 2011. Queens Park Rangers has also supported the charity.
The UK operations of Console are run by Tim Kelly, the son of the founder of Console in Ireland.