Varadkar admits proposed Holohan secondment was ‘mishandled’

Speaking to reporters in Belfast, he defended the different accounts given by those involved in the secondment.
Varadkar admits proposed Holohan secondment was ‘mishandled’

By Gráinne Ní Aodha and Rebecca Black, PA

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said it is clear that the planned secondment of Dr Tony Holohan was mishandled but said a report found that those involved acted in good faith.

The Fine Gael leader was speaking after an external review into the proposed secondment of the former chief medical officer to a post in Trinity College Dublin was published on Monday.

It found there was a lack of formal consultation with the Taoiseach, Minister for Health and Department of Public Expenditure, and that the corresponding funding proposed of €2 million per year bypassed all accepted protocols.


Mr Varadkar told reporters in Belfast: “In terms of the report, this is a secondment that ultimately did not happen.

“It is clear that it was mishandled, but ultimately it was a secondment that didn’t go through.

“And I think we need to put in place proper procedures around secondments so we don’t have a repeat of this.”

He added: “When a job is advertised it’s very simple: it’s advertised, people apply, the best person gets the job, or at least they ought to. With secondments it’s more complicated.

“We definitely need better procedures around that. But let’s be clear: the report didn’t make any findings against any individual, and did find that every individual acted in good faith.

“And sometimes people can have a different understanding, or a different recollection of what happened.”

On Wednesday, Secretary General at the Department of Health Robert Watt told a committee that he did not accept the findings of the report, which conflicted with that of the Taoiseach’s chief of staff, and was accused by the committee’s chairman of being “arrogantly dismissive”.

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