Tanaiste says Government 'not satisfied' with how Holohan was given Trinity role

The Government has been dogged by questions in recent days over the move, including why the Department of Health was set to fund the secondment.
Tanaiste says Government 'not satisfied' with how Holohan was given Trinity role

Updated at 18:59

The Tanaiste says no one in government is satisfied with how Tony Holohan was given a state-funded role with Trinity College Dublin.

The Taoiseach has called for a report in how the chief medical officer was given a professorship, while still receiving his €187,000 salary from the Department of Health.

The secretary general at the Department of Health, Robert Watt, is expected to be invited before Public Accounts Committee to clarify the arrangement.

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, says the decisions around Dr Holohan's new job which he's now turned down, need to be explained: "I am not sure what exactly happened and what processes went on.

"We are not satisfied with how it came about to be honest and that is why the Taoiseach is asking for a report to be done into it."

The news comes as the chief medical officer (CMO) Dr Tony Holohan, has said he will not go ahead with a secondment to the academic role at Trinity College Dublin.

The Government had been dogged by questions in recent days over the move, including why the Department of Health was to fund the secondment.

It was confirmed last month that Dr Holohan was to stand down as CMO and take up the position of professor of public health strategy and leadership.

New report

It emerged earlier this week that he was to be seconded on his existing salary of €187,000.

But Taoiseach Micheál Martin said on Friday the appointment should be paused until he receives a report from Minister of Health Stephen Donnelly.

Mr Holohan has now said he will instead retire as CMO on July 1st and will not take up the secondment.

In a statement he said: “I have decided not to proceed with my secondment as professor of public health leadership and strategy, Trinity College Dublin.

“I intend to retire as CMO with effect from July 1 to allow the Department of Health sufficient time to advance the process of appointing my successor.

“I do not wish to see the controversy of the last few days continuing.

“In particular, I wish to avoid any further unnecessary distraction that this has caused to our senior politicians and civil servants.”

He added: “My strong belief is that this was a significant opportunity to work with the university sector to develop much needed public health capacity and leadership for the future.

“In this regard, I would like to thank Trinity College and the provost for their foresight and support in establishing this role.

“Following my departure, I look forward to sharing my knowledge and expertise outside of the public service.”

Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Dr Linda Doyle, said: “This is a huge loss for Ireland’s education sector, and for all the students who would have learned so much from Dr Holohan’s experience.”

Speaking on Friday, Mr Martin had said there had to be “transparency, good process and procedure” about the secondment.

He added: “I don’t see this as just a human resource issue, or a personnel issue in its own right, which I can understand.

“But there was a research perspective to this. There’s a more medium-term perspective to this and in my view it should be paused, there should be a reassessment as to how the objectives that are behind this can be realised in a better and more transparent way.

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