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Monday 25 September 2023 Dublin: 16°C
Sam Boal
# New Job
Dr Tony Holohan rules out return as Chief Medical Officer after his new role in Trinity College
Controversy has surrounded the salary payment of for his new professorship in Trinity College.

LAST UPDATE | Apr 7th 2022, 1:45 PM

TÁNAISTE LEO VARADKAR has said it would have been preferable had the full details around the secondment of Dr Tony Holohan been made clear from the outset.

Dr Holohan will be 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. 

It emerged this week that this post 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.

It has also emerged that the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly were only made aware of the secondment this week.

Speaking in the Dáil, the Tánaiste said:

“What I do think, and I think we’d all acknowledge, that it would have been far preferable if the full details around this secondment had been put in the public domain at the outset.”

Varadkar said he knows the Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath “is not satisfied with how how this has been done”.

McGrath is engaging with the Department of Health on the matter at the moment, said Varadkar. “It is important to follow procedures,” he said.

He added that there was no doubt that Dr Holohan is eminently qualified for the new role and his comments do not cast aspersions on that matter, he wanted to make clear.

McGrath said yesterday that the arrangements for his secondment have some “unusual characteristics” insofar as the salary is not being paid by the host body, namely Trinity College. 

The minister said he was not made aware of the arrangement and neither were any of his officials. 

Dr Holohan told the Oireachtas Health Committee today that he will not return to the job as Chief Medical Officer after his new role in Trinity College.


In his opening statement, addressing whether he will return as Chief Medical Officer at a later point, he states:

“It is not my intention to return to this role at any point in the future. It is important that my successor feels fully empowered and enabled to undertake the role as they see fit.” 

He said he wished to “clarify a few issues” surrounding his new role with Trinity College.

“The Department of Health is committed to the development of public health capacity for the future. While Ireland has fared well in many aspects of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is room for development of our capacity in this regard.

“The third level sector will play a key role in providing thought leadership, critical analysis, research as well as the development of knowledge and skills to better support public health leadership, policy making and public health practice,” he said.

He said it is to further this potential that I am taking up the Professorship of Public
Health Strategy & Leadership in Trinity College Dublin.

Specifically, the Department intends Dr Holohan to lead the development and activities of inter-institutional collaboration between universities and the health sector and
to develop stronger links with the WHO and agencies of the EU, he explains.

“My secondment to Trinity College Dublin means I have agreed to relinquish my role as Chief Medical Officer,” he added.

Speaking about the Covid-19 situation, he said it is “broadly positive”. ICU and hospital numbers remain stable, he said.

He added that the pandemic is not over, and encourage those eligible to take up their booster shots. 

Mask wearing is advised on public transport and in healthcare settings, he added.

Individuals who are vulnerable to Covid-19 are further advised to be aware of the risk associated with activities they may choose to engage in and to take measures to optimally protect themselves, he said.

Vulnerable individuals are advised to consider wearing masks in crowded indoor
settings, such as social gatherings or other activities and events.

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