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Tony Holohan to step down as CMO and take up new role at Trinity College

The Minister for Health made the announcement this afternoon.

DR TONY HOLOHAN is stepping down as the country’s Chief Medical Officer.

From 1 July this year he will be working as a Professor of Public Health Strategy and Leadership at Trinity College Dublin.

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly and Professor Linda Doyle, Provost of Trinity College Dublin, made the announcement this afternoon.

Dr Tony Holohan said: “It has been a great privilege for me to serve as Chief Medical Officer and to have had an opportunity to be directly involved in issues of great importance and relevance to the health of the people of Ireland.

In particular, these past two years have presented extreme challenges to public health globally and I have been honoured to work alongside exceptional colleagues in the Department of Health, the HSE, the wider health service and across Government. During this time, I have witnessed the dedication of colleagues to protecting the health and wellbeing of people across Ireland.


Taoiseach Micheál Martin thanked Holohan for his services, particularly during the pandemic.

“His steadfast assured advice, and willingness to communicate over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic undoubtedly helped saved lives, and kept Ireland safe during an exceptionally challenging two years.

His work chairing the NPHET, his professionalism, and calm and personable nature gave us all the assurance we needed during the pandemic.

Minister Donnelly said: “Throughout his time as CMO, Tony has used his public health leadership ability, alongside his many other skills and insights, to inform and influence decisions at the highest level in order to protect public health.

“Throughout the pandemic his invaluable advice to me, and to the Government has shaped our response to Covid-19, and I witnessed first-hand his unwavering dedication to protecting the health of the people of Ireland.

He will play a critical role in applying his knowledge and skills to the development of the next generation of thinking and practice in public health, and I wish Tony all the best in this new and exciting chapter in his career.

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris, who served as health minister during the first few months of the pandemic, also thanked Holohan for his services, saying “I saw first hand your steady leadership, your work ethic, your determination & the personal sacrifices you made”.

Fine Gael MEP Frances Fitzgerald thanked Holohan for “his outstanding contribution to public health in Ireland”.

“It was always a pleasure to work with him. Hope he continues to play a key role on public health in Ireland. Every success in your next chapter,” she wrote on Twitter.

Sinn Féin health spokesperson David Cullinane also said that he wished Holohan the best in his new role.

He said: “He steered the state through a very difficult time over the last number of years.

“His professionalism and commitment to public health and public service is a credit to him and his family.”

Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland Adrian Cummins also took to Twitter to wish Holohan “the very best as he departs the role of CMO”.

“While Hospitality took the full force of the restrictions during the pandemic – the sector always followed Public Health Advice to protect the nation,” he said.

Who fills the role?

file-photo-after-14-years-as-chief-medical-officer-dr-tony-holohan-is-to-step-down-from-the-position-he-has-held-since-2008-dr-holohan-came-to-public-prominence-from-the-start-of-2020-during-the-cov Dr Tony Holohan and Dr Ronan Glynn at the Department. Sasko Lazarov Sasko Lazarov

It is understood there will be a competition to fill the CMO’s position; Deputy CMO Dr Ronan Glynn will deputise when he does step down, with an advertisement for the role to follow.

Meanwhile, a new group to advise the Government on Covid-19 is expected to be set up “imminently”.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said yesterday that conversations have taken place as to who will sit on the new group which will replace NPHET.

Holohan has sent Minister Donnelly a proposal for the new advisory body.

Government sources state the make up of the group is being finalised and is likely to be announced next week.

About seven or eight members will sit on the new group, made up of experts in immunology, virology, epidemiology and also some from clinical practice who are working on the ground in healthcare.

About the Trinity role

file-photo-after-14-years-as-chief-medical-officer-dr-tony-holohan-is-to-step-down-from-the-position-his-term-has-covered-every-minister-for-health-since-2008-end After 14 years as Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan is to step down from the position. /Photocall Ireland /Photocall Ireland

Trinity Provost Linda Doyle, said that Holohan “will not be attached to a single School or Discipline within Trinity” as part of his new role, but will “traverse the Faculties of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences and Health Sciences, recognising the complexity and scope of population health challenges in the modern era”.

Holohan said in a statement that he is looking forward to the new role. 

“Now more than ever, a strong focus on public health protection and preparedness for health emergencies is required.

I will seek to use this opportunity to deepen relationships and collaborations including with other universities and agencies, with the WHO and the various agencies of the EU.

Dr Tony Holohan was appointed as Chief Medical Officer in the Department of Health in December 2008.

Prior to that he served as Deputy Chief Medical Officer from 2001.

With reporting from Christina Finn.

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