Dr Tony Holohan, who as chief medical officer led Ireland’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic for the past two years, is to step down.
The Taoiseach has paid tribute to the Irish doctor, who will take on a new teaching role at Trinity College Dublin from July.
It is understood that he will remain as chief medical officer until then.
Dr Holohan became one of Ireland’s best-known figures overnight when the pandemic hit, leading the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) as he guided the government and the public through the global emergency.
His near-night presence at Nphet briefings at the start of the pandemic made him a constant presence on TV screens as the country went into lockdown, with his likeness even appearing on a mural in the Irish capital.
Although he was widely praised for his work as chief medical officer, there were occasional clashes with politicians and criticism of Nphet’s reluctance on issues such as antigen testing.
In a statement he said: ‘It has been a great privilege for me to serve as Chief Medical Officer and to have had the opportunity to be directly involved in matters of great importance and relevance to health of the Irish people.
“The past two years in particular have presented extreme challenges for public health around the world and I have been honored to work alongside outstanding colleagues from the Department of Health, HSE, wider health services and of the whole government.
“During this time, I have witnessed the dedication of colleagues to protecting the health and wellbeing of people across Ireland.”
He said he was “excited” about his new role at Trinity College Dublin, which will see him appointed professor of public health strategy and leadership.
“I look forward to working with energy and enthusiasm with the provostship of Trinity College Dublin and her team, and through this, to continue to contribute to the improvement of public health policy, practice and results.
“I look forward to using my experience, knowledge and skills to enable Trinity College Dublin to make a leading contribution to strengthening the knowledge and practice of public health leadership in Ireland.”
Dr Holohan has been Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer since December 2008, serving as Deputy Chief Medical Officer from 2001.
Micheal Martin praised Dr. Holohan.
“His unwavering advice and willingness to communicate during the Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly helped save lives and keep Ireland safe through two exceptionally difficult years,” he said.
“I have known Tony, and had the privilege of working with him, since he was appointed deputy chief medical officer in 2001, and then during his 14 years as chief medical officer.
“His work as Chair of Nphet, his professionalism and his calm and pleasant nature gave us all the confidence we needed during the pandemic.
“Tony worked tirelessly to raise and transform the profile and status of public health medicine, and worked hard to create a professional path to consultant status.”
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly also welcomed Dr Holohan’s advice during the pandemic.
“Throughout the pandemic, his invaluable advice to me and the government has shaped our response to Covid-19, and I have witnessed firsthand his unwavering dedication to protecting the health of the people of Ireland.
“He will be instrumental in applying his knowledge and skills to developing the next generation of public health thinking and practice, and I wish Tony every success in this exciting new chapter in his career. “
Higher Education Minister Simon Harris, who was Minister of Health at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, joined in the tributes to Dr Holohan.
He tweeted: “I have seen firsthand your consistent leadership, work ethic, determination and the personal sacrifices you have made.
“You leave healthcare and go into higher education – I can highly recommend it!”
The provost of Trinity College Dublin, Professor Linda Doyle, said the Irish university was “delighted” to welcome Dr Holohan.
“Trinity is there to make things better and the university has a long history of working with health services in this area. Dr Holohan has become a household name for his service to the country over the past two years, but more needs to be done to protect Ireland from future pandemics.
“We are delighted that he is working with other academic colleagues at Trinity to learn the lessons of Covid and prepare for these future challenges.
“Dr. Holohan will not be tied to any one school or discipline within Trinity. Instead, her role will cross the Faculties of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Health Sciences, recognizing the complexity and scope of population health challenges in the modern era.
Sinn Fein health spokesman David Cullinane also said he wished Dr Holohan the best in his new role.
He said: “He has led the state through a very difficult period over the past few years.
“His professionalism and commitment to public health and public service brings credit to him and his family.”
His tenure as Chief Medical Officer has not been without controversy and last year he regretted what happened to women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy, which saw more than 200 women affected by system failures. Irish screening.