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Dublin: 20 °C Thursday 6 August, 2020
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Dr Tony Holohan to step away from work as Chief Medical Officer for family reasons

Dr Ronan Glynn has been appointed Acting Chief Medical Officer.

Image: Sam Boal

DR TONY HOLOHAN is to step away from his work as Chief Medical Officer to spend time with his family.

Holohan’s wife, diagnosed with a form of blood cancer in 2012, was admitted for palliative care last Saturday.

“From today, I will be taking time out from all of my work commitments to be with my family. My wife, Emer, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer, in 2012. She has had a number of difficult years with her disease and was admitted for palliative care last Saturday,” he said at the end of tonight’s Covid-19 briefing.

“I now want to give my energy, attention and all of my time to Emer and to our two teenage children, Clodagh and Ronan.

“I have spoken with the Taoiseach, Minister for Health and other colleagues about this, and they have all kindly offered their support and best wishes to both of us.”

Holohan said a plan has been put in place for others to take over different aspects of his role. 

Dr Ronan Glynn, the deputy CMO, has been appointed Acting Chief Medical Officer and will chair the Department of Health’s press conferences. 

“As a husband and father, and as a public health doctor, I’m conscious that we all have been through tough times together over the last number of months and many families across the country have been affected by the course of Covid-19, suffering pain and loss of loved ones,” Holohan said. 

“I hope that we can all remain working together to continue to stay vigilant, keep our social distance, and take personal responsibility for our own health, in the first instance, as well as looking after our family members and friends and those we care about most.”

“I’d like to thank everyone for their ongoing support understanding and respect for my family’s privacy and would ask that this would continue.”

‘A great debt of gratitude’

Thanking Dr Holohan for guiding the country through the pandemic, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said a great debt of gratitude was owed to him and his family.

“His work, experience and briefings helped people to understand the gravity of the situation facing us, while his calmness reassured us that if we followed the guidelines and advice we would overcome these great challenges together,” Martin said. 

“Every home in Ireland has come to know Dr Tony Holohan. His leadership during the pandemic has given us all confidence that the decisions being made are based on solid public health advice. As a country we owe him and his family a great debt of gratitude”.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly this evening asked that the privacy of Dr Holohan and his family be respected now.

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“It’s important that they have this time together,” he said.

“I also want to thank Dr Holohan for the leadership and extraordinary commitment and professionalism he has shown throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

We are fortunate to have such leadership and to have the work, expertise and dedication of the National Public Health Emergency Team. 

“That team has worked day and night since this pandemic started and have brought us to where we are now with Dr Holohan’s leadership.”

He said the continuity of that work is vital and “will be guaranteed with the leadership of Dr Ronan Glynn”.

The former Minister for Health Simon Harris, who worked with Dr Holohan throughout the pandemic, described him as a “patriot” who had saved countless lives through his leadership. 

“Tony Holohan is a patriot, an incredible public servant & a doctor who has saved thousands of lives through his leadership. He has kept us safe. I valued his counsel as Minister so much. Thank you to his family for sharing him with us. We think of them & respect their privacy,” Harris tweeted. 

HSE Chief Paul Reid tweeted: “The thoughts and best wishes of everyone in the HSE are with Dr Tony Holohan, his wife and family as they deal with very personal circumstances. We will be there to offer our support, however we can.”

- With reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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