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Taoiseach says Dr Tony Holohan's secondment to Trinity should be 'paused'

Micheál Martin said he wants greater transparency around the role.

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has this morning said that Dr Tony Holohan’s secondment to Trinity College should be paused to allow for greater transparency. 

It emerged earlier this week that Dr Holohan was stepping down as the country’s Chief Medical Officer to take up the role as a Professor of Public Health Strategy and Leadership at TCD in July. 

However, speaking to RTÉ in Helsinki this morning, Martin said that process should be paused. 

“There has to be transparency. There has to be good process and procedure. I don’t see this just as a human resource issue or a personnel issue in its own right, which I can understand.

“In my view, you know, it should be paused. There should be a reassessment as to how the objectives that are behind this can be realised in a better and more transparent way.”

It emerged this week that the post Dr Holohan was to take up is an “open-ended secondment” paid for by the Department of Health under the same terms as Dr Holohan’s existing contract. 

Recent reports show the CMO’s salary is around €187,000 per year.

Questions have been raised about how the position was filled and the communications surrounding Holohan’s appointment. 

Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Finance Public Expenditure and Reform, John McGuinness, told RTE’s Morning Ireland that the committee has “serious concerns about how the department reached the decision in relation to all of this and also the fact that the minister was not informed”.

Speaking to reporters this morning, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said it was “the right decision” that Holohan’s secondment be paused. 

Varadkar said that he had “assumed” that Holohan had applied for the role.

“I was delighted to hear that Tony was getting the professorship at Trinity, I think he’s an excellent person, and will be very capable of doing that job. But I suppose when I heard about it I kind of assumed the job came up and he applied for it and got it. It appears that it’s actually even more complicated than that,” Varadkar said. 

“So we think it’s appropriate, because it does involve taxpayers money, that the appointment should be paused for a short period while we can find out exactly how it came about, and to reassure ourselves that procedures were correctly followed. I’m sure they were but we want to be sure of that.” 

The Department of Health has been contacted for comment.  

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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