Updated Thu 13:45
TÁNAISTE LEO VARADKAR said it would have been better if all the details regarding the secondment of Dr Tony Holohan had been clear from the outset.
Dr Holohan will step down as the nation’s chief medical officer to take on the role of Professor of Public Health Strategy and Leadership at TCD in July.
It emerged this week that the position is an “open-ended secondment” paid by the Department of Health on the same terms as Dr Holohan’s existing contract.
Recent reports show that the CMO salary is around €187,000 per year.
It also emerged that the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly were only made aware of the secondment this week.
Speaking in the Dáil, the Tánaiste said:
“What I think, and I think we would all agree, that it would have been far better if all the details of this secondment had been made public from the outset.”
Varadkar said he knew Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath “is not happy with the way this has been done”.
McGrath is currently engaging with the Department of Health on the issue, Varadkar said. “It’s important to follow the procedures,” he said.
He added that there was no doubt that Dr. Holohan was eminently qualified for the new role and that his comments did not disparage this issue, he insisted.
McGrath said yesterday the terms of his secondment have ‘unusual features’ in that the salary is not paid by the host body, Trinity College.
The minister said he was not made aware of the arrangement and neither were any of his officials.
Dr Holohan told the Oireachtas Health Committee today that he will not return to his duties as Chief Medical Officer after his new role at Trinity College.
In his opening statement, asking if he will return as Chief Medical Officer in the future, he says:
“I do not intend to return to this role at any time in the future. It is important that my successor feels fully empowered and able to take on the role as he sees fit.”
He said he wanted to “clarify a few questions” about his new role at Trinity College.
“The Department of Health is committed to building public health capacity for the future. Although Ireland has performed well in many aspects of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is room for development of our capabilities in this regard.
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“The Third Level Sector will play a key role in providing thought leadership, critical analysis, research as well as knowledge and skills development to better support public health leadership, policy development and practice. public health,” he said.
He said it’s to further this potential that I accept the position of professor of public studies.
Health Strategy and Leadership at Trinity College Dublin.
Specifically, the Department expects Dr. Holohan to lead the development and activities of inter-institutional collaboration between universities and the health sector and
develop stronger links with the WHO and EU agencies, he explains.
“My secondment to Trinity College Dublin means that I have agreed to step down from my role as Chief Medical Officer,” he added.
Speaking about the Covid-19 situation, he said he was “generally positive”. The number of intensive care units and hospitals remains stable, he said.
He added that the pandemic is not over and encouraged those eligible to take their booster shots.
Wearing a mask is advised on public transport and in health establishments, he added.
Those vulnerable to Covid-19 are further advised to be aware of the risk associated with activities they may choose to engage in and to take steps to protect themselves optimally, he said.
Vulnerable people are advised to consider wearing masks in crowded indoor spaces
contexts, such as social gatherings or other activities and events.