‘We Weren’t Console’s Regulator, Or Its Primary Funder’


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From top: Director of HSE Tony O’Brien and Fine Gael TD Josepha Madigan, of Dublin Rathdown at the Public Accounts Committee this morning

Director of HSE Tony O’Brien and members of the Department of Health is before the Public Accounts Committee this morning in light of the revelations concerning the former CEO of Console, Paul Kelly.

During this morning’s meeting, Fine Gael TD Josepha Madigan repeatedly asked Mr O’Brien if the HSE took any responsibility for Console’s finances.

She was fairly dogged, in fairness.

From the meeting…

Tony O’Brien: We were not Console’s regulator, we were not its primary funder. We were purchasing a certain range of services from Console which were being received, which continued until yesterday. Which will now continue in another organisation. We have no powers over their fundraising activities or those other extraneous matters.”

Jospeha Madigan: “Just on that point that you say there, Mr O’Brien, and I heard you on Sean O’Rourke (RTE Radio One show)… you also said that you partially funded Console. To me that’s actually missing the point. The main principle still applies, you’re still giving a significant amount of money to this charity so it doesn’t matter whether its partially funded or not. The same principles still apply, the same oversight should apply in relation to that particular charity and I don’t think that’s a good enough response, in my view.”


Madigan: “When you talk about value for money, it seems, putting the services to one side, it seems extraordinary that you say that you’re satisfied in relation to what’s transpired.”

O’Brien: “Well, can I explain why? And it does go back to an earlier point and I know you don’t necessarily agree with where I’m coming from on this. The services are all we paid for. Our engagement with that organisation was…”

Madigan:Are you abdicating all responsibility from oversight of Console?

O’Brien: “What I have said and what I’m saying clearly…”

Madigan: “I’m asking a question…”

O’Brien: “You’re seeking to frame it in a way that I can’t give you a yes or no answer..”

Madigan: “That’s what your implying..”

O’Brien: “What I’m saying..”

Madigan: “That’s what you’re implying…”

O’Brien: “If that was the case why would we have concocted this very extensive internal audit. What I’m saying is we…”

Madigan: “Which should have been done, with respect, many years beforehand, many years beforehand. Do you accept there’s any failings on behalf of the HSE for Console?

O’Brien: “The failings that are in the report on Console, which you’ve had an opportunity to read, are failings within Console. Clearly, at any point in time, with the benefit…”

Madigan: “Do you accept any…”

O’Brien: “Can I answer the question?”

Madigan: “No, because, no because you’re saying the failings are within Console itself. Do you, Mr O’Brien accept that the HSE had a responsibility towards Console? Do you accept any, any responsibility?”

O’Brien: “We had a responsibility to the provide funding in relation to the services they were providing to satisfy ourselves, the quality of those services, and when significant issues of concern…”

Madigan: “But why didn’t you carry out inspections when you could have done that? You..”

O’Brien:It’s very difficult for a witness to answer questions if they only get the first 50% of their answer out.”

Madigan: “Go ahead but…”

O’Brien: “If I could answer the question, it may answer the next question that you’re trying to pose to me. When issues of concern arose about financial governance, the audit was initiated. Prior to that, there had not been unresolved issues which led to that decision. Obviously, officers have to make judgements at all times. With the benefit of hindsight yes, maybe the decision could have been made earlier…”

Madigan: “OK, maybe the decision could have been made earlier. Will you accept the failings on behalf of the HSE in relation to the governance  of Console?

O’Brien: “No, I do not accept. We were not responsible for the governance of Console. Console is a separate legal entity. Our only responsibility can be in relation to the oversight..”

Madigan: “So you’re saying the HSE has absolutely, is absolutely blameless thus far?”

O’Brien: “I didn’t say that.”

Madigan: “But that is what you’re saying, Mr O’Brien.”

O’Brien: “If you were to review the transcript, you will find I didn’t say that.”

Madigan: “I have read your transcript at length..”

O’Brien: “No, no, the transcript of our discussion right now. At no point have I said the HSE is blameless.”

Madigan: “You’re not saying, you know what you’re saying, Mr O’Brien, you’re hiding behind words and you’re very good at it.”

O’Brien: “Can I say something? Chairman…If the PAC were an airline, I’d be in the top tier of the frequent fliers programme, right? So I expect to be in here a lot. As I was with the previous committee. The committee members know what I mean. We have provided all the specific documentation the committee asked us to provide. We’ve come as required, now we’re going to do our best to give you all the information that we can. But sometimes it’s very difficult if I only get the first few words of an answer out..”


Watch live here

Previously: Con Sold

23 thoughts on “‘We Weren’t Console’s Regulator, Or Its Primary Funder’

  1. Rugbyfan

    Josepha ‘NIMBY’ Madigan trying to make a name for herself with the aggressive tone. Looks nothing like her election posters!

      1. B Hewson

        Bollox. Any organisation that receives BILLIONS in taxpayer money should always vet their suppliers. He should get a roasting for being at the head of this organisation. What he is saying is he will spend HSE money on any services and accept zero responsibility for how that organisation or supplier is run. This is our money he is spending recklessly !

        1. manonfire

          eh barbara you live in london!! and have done for many years, chasing janners tail, Ireland is in your rear view mirror

      2. Joe Small

        They don’t regulate charities. Its like asking me to regulate Vodafone because I use and pay for their services. It doesn’t work like that.
        I didn’t care for the “Have you stopped beating your wife?” type questions. Churlish. I’m not sure these committees do much real work – this is not real accountability.

        1. nellyb

          Great! HSE gave your money to pathological thief, who deprived many of life saving services and all you do is playing cleava casuistry? Dandy.
          We need a lot more theft and neglect. I am curious to see at what point people will stop defaulting to indemnifying contracts and retarded governance written with sole purpose to avoid responsibility. Demise of human race it is. LOL LOL and LOL.

          1. Kieran NYC

            The employees didn’t even know what Kelly was up to. Is the HSE supposed to be clairvoyant? Keep up your pointless rage against the world though.

  2. smolach

    the HSE needs to be investigated as much as these charity’s, it obvious the money is been pumped into the HSE by the Government, this money where ever it is going is not going to where i should be going, nurses and doctors are working to the point of exhaustion, worse they are working in what is now a very dangerous work environment, i speak from experience in Galway hospital. Its like a war zone in there, up until march they were blaming the winter vomiting bug for packed A&E.
    Galway is the main (center of Excellence, i kid you not, they actually called it that) for patients from Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon, Donegal and everything in between, Minister after minister has come to “sort it out” Its only got worse. Imagine Cancer patients from Donegal have to travel to Galway a 5 hour each way commute, to get life saving/prolonging medical assistance. Can you imagine feeling as sick as they do and having to travel 5 houses, lets face it they would be in Boston quicker than they get to galway, been that sick and having to travel 10 hours? its inhumane. Its a national disgrace and yet we all seem to be doing just great!
    For some reason we seem more vocal when it comes to giving out about our waste charges and water charges than the farce in our local hospital. Where is the money going? someone actually needs to get into the hospital and find out, check the wages of the pin pushers

  3. steve knievel

    She looks Pretty good and she is Ian Maddog Madigans aunt. so what if you accuse her of being a nimby. the proposal was ridiculous.

  4. Barry the Hatchet

    This was just terrible questioning from Madigan. She shows no interest in actually getting at the facts. I despair at the quality of our public representatives.

    1. Charles

      She is exactly the kind of person I always suspected. Totally unfortunately for public office.

  5. Truth in the News

    What O’Brien is good at is baffling everyone with waffle….he in charge of an
    organisation spending nearly 14 billion all told.

  6. Mulder

    We know, no-thing, nothing, that is our job.
    It is well known the HSE, knows nothing about anything.
    Especially health.

Comments are closed.