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'That's not the meeting I was at': Holohan denies tension with ministers over restrictions

Holohan said the questions he was asked by ministers last week were ‘reasonable and sensible’.
May 5th 2020, 8:08 PM 38,481 27

THE CHIEF MEDICAL Officer has denied reported tensions between himself and Cabinet ministers over Covid-19 restrictions.

This morning the Irish Independent reported that the government had decided not to include the recommendation for cocooning to continue in Phase 5 in its roadmap, published Friday evening. The paper reported that this recommendation had been included in the version public health officials gave to government. 

It was also reported over the weekend that there was tension at a briefing Dr Tony Holohan gave to ministers last week outlining his advice on the easing of restrictions.

At a briefing at the Department of Health this evening, Holohan said he hasn’t “come across any tension” from ministers. 

When asked about reports of hostility at the meeting with Cabinet ministers on Friday, he replied: “That’s not the meeting I was at.”

“Dr [Ronan] Glynn and I went and briefed the Cabinet. We went through a slide presentation, A to Z on the disease. We were asked reasonable, sensible questions and we answered them and the meeting ended.”

He said he has not experienced “any kind of pressure being applied to us that’s alleged to have informed some of our decisions”.

Holohan said he is confident that the relationship with ministers has “worked well so far”. 

“There are more considerations. We give public health advice – government has a range of considerations. It’s not our role, in spite of how it has been characterised elsewhere in the media and so on, to make decisions that are societal decisions, that are decisions for government to make,” he said.

“The government is there to make decisions on advice from a range of different considerations.”

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Holohan said that while his advice will be focused on public health, the decisions made by government will not always be solely based on public health grounds. 

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Michelle Hennessy

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