MUSICIAN Bressie received over €3,000 of taxpayers’ cash to launch a health event, the Irish Sun can reveal.
The mental well-being campaigner, full name Niall Breslin, charges appearance fees to attend such bashes, like many other celebs.
Figures obtained by the Irish Sun show the singer was paid €3,173.40 to launch the HSE Community Games in July 2014.
The HSE Community Games is an independent voluntary organisation which aims to provide opportunities for children and young people aged six to 16 years to develop active healthy lives through experiencing a wide range of sporting and cultural activities.
Figures released to the Irish Sun following a Freedom of Information request show Bressie charged a €2,500 fee for a Community Games press day.
The former Voice of Ireland judge also billed for €80 in expenses, while VAT was listed as €593.40 — taking the total amount paid out to €3,173.40.
The invoice obtained by us show the payment went directly to Bressie’s own firm Big Face Productions Ltd.
Other FOI records show Bressie got €2,214 to attend the National Mental Health Nursing Conference in Dublin Castle in April 2015.
The agreed fee is listed as €1,800, with VAT taking the total to more than €2,000.
The HSE Community Games said the invoice was received from a third party, Presence Communications, for his services.
It added: “In an effort to locate the records we referred your request to the Office of Nursing and Midwifery Services, regarding the National Mental Health Nursing Conference in Dublin Castle, April 15 2015.
“The office returned the invoice received from a third party, Presence Communications, to the total of €1,800 plus VAT, which was paid for the services of Mr Niall ‘Bressie’ Breslin for the conference.”
Athlone Castle was the setting as the HSE Community Games launched their 2014 festival with the help of former participant and fitness ambassador Bressie.
At the event, Gerard Davenport, president of Community Games, presented Bressie with a special gold medal.
A HSE Community Games press release from the time said the medal was “to reward him (Bressie) for all he has done over the years in encouraging people to be more active in their daily lives and also for helping to put the spotlight on mental health”.
Speaking at the event, Niall said: “When I took part in the Community Games I loved the feeling of representing my local town and area and it always gave me such motivation to do well. I was a competitive young fella!”
Bressie also gave some tips to the young participants on how best to keep active.
He said: “Find a sport you love. There are so many sports and just because your friends may love rugby or soccer you don’t have to play it.
“Life is too short to do something you don’t enjoy and when there is so much choice there is no reason to not give everything a shot.”
Talking about finding the right balance in life, Niall spoke about the link between physical activity, eating well and feeling good about yourself.
He said: “As you grow older this link becomes much clearer. Sport has a profound impact on your mental health and when you are happy in body and mind, you have more confidence and this filters down into your private and professional life.”
The most recent accounts filed by Breslin’s Big Face Productions to the Companies Office show the pay to directors also increased sharply going from €29,013 in 2014 to €152,020 in 2015.
Bressie is on the board with his father, Enda, and the accounts show the firm was sitting on an accumulated deficit of €18,223.
The cash pile at the firm increased by €110,789 — going from €32,728 to €143,517 in 2015. The figures show Bressie owns 90 per cent of the shares with his dad Enda owning the remaining ten per cent.
A former Leinster and Ireland Under 21 rugby player, Bressie established the firm in 2013 to capitalise on his national fame as a result of appearing as a judge on the hit RTE show, The Voice of Ireland.
The Co Westmeath man set up the firm under the guidance of accountant to the stars Alan McEvoy, director of Limerick-based firm LBM.
McEvoy also advises Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Boyzone, former members of Westlife including, Nicky Byrne and Kian Egan, and a host of other stars.
Bressie worked as a coach on the RTE show for five years and had the overall winning act for three of those years.
The show provided a steady income for the former rugby star before RTE cancelled it in favour of an Irish version of Dancing with the Stars.
Speaking about the demise, Bressie said The Voice of Ireland show ended at the right time and he is quite relieved it had come to an end.
He said: “The Voice was huge for me but I’m glad it’s over and it came to an end when it was doing well. It’s the right time.”
The HSE Community Games teamed up in 2014 with Healthy Ireland, described then as a new national initiative that is promoting health and well-being throughout the country.
Dr Cate Hartigan, from the HSE, said: “We are delighted to support the Community Games in 2014, and to make it part of our Healthy Ireland programme.
“Encouraging more children, families and communities to be active, and to see the enormous benefits this can bring, is one of the most important changes that we all want to see in Ireland.
“On top of that, the community participation and volunteerism that is an essential part of the Community Games adds to our shared well-being in towns and villages nationwide.” Bressie has also recently penned a book about his mental health journey.
The singer has opened up about his anxiety issues in recent years and revealed he has had Generalised Anxiety Disorder since his youth.
He said: “I decided to write a book outlining my journey with my mental health.
“By outlining some of the mistakes that I made — such as not seeking help when I needed it — I hope to help others make better choices.”
He added: “It is important we normalise the conversation surrounding mental health in this county and I hope this book can contribute to that.”
The paperback, Me and My Mate Jeffrey, was billed as “a story of big dreams, tough realities and facing my demons head on”.
Despite a number of attempts to contact Bressie and his representatives, the singer did not reply to our requests for a response at the time of going to press last night.
NIALL Breslin began speaking out about his battle with mental health back in 2014.
The brave star launched the My1000Hours website — later called alustforlife.com — to help raise wellness awareness after going public with his own demons.
Bressie admitted he often struggled to get out of bed when he was a student at UCD on a sports scholarship studying for a degree in commerce.
The 36-year-old Mullingar singer explained: “When I was 15 years of age, I would spend countless nights up in my bedroom gasping for air.
“I was also very unwell in college and had severe anxiety issues, and I think a lot of students do.
“I wish I would have enjoyed it more. I dropped out of the first year and deferred. I just wasn’t in the right head space for it.”
And he revealed his own reluctance to deal with his mental health for years resulted in depression taking its toll — and ultimately destroying two of his careers.
After gaining popularity as a keynote speaker, the former Gaelic football and rugby player became a regular fixture on our screens, starring in Bressie’s Teenage Kicks on RTE2.
Last year he published his book Me and My Mate Jeffrey, which documents his secret battle with depression.
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