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HSE's Tony O'Brien to take temporary leave of absence from board of US contraceptive firm

O’Brien is leaving the HSE in August.

Tony O’Brien has said that he wishes to remain in his post at the HSE.
Tony O’Brien has said that he wishes to remain in his post at the HSE.
Image: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

TONY O’BRIEN HAS agreed to temporarily step aside from his role on the board of a US medical company while he remains as the director-general of the HSE.

O’Brien is leaving the top role with the Health Service Executive in August but he is under increasing pressure the depart before that amid the ongoing CervicalCheck scandal.

It was reported yesterday by the Irish Times that O’Brien joined the board of US contraceptive firm Evofem Biosciences earlier this year and was in line to receive fees totalling $65,000 (€45,000) a year for the role.

Facing numerous questions about the ongoing scandal in the Dáil today, Tánaiste Simon Coveney confirmed that O’Brien will be taking a temporary leave of absence from his position on the company’s board.

Coveney said that O’Brien would be taking a leave of absence from all non-HSE activity but Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said this was not sufficient.

Doherty said that this leave of absence “doesn’t go far enough” and added that Vicky Phelan had called for O’Brien’s resignation.

The controversy was brought into the public eye following a court case by Phelan, who is terminally ill. Last week she was awarded €2.5 million over incorrect smear test results from 2011.

Facing questions at an Oireachtas committee yesterday, O’Brien resisted pressure to leave his position saying he wished to stay until his stated departure date to help deal with the fallout from the controversy.

Coveney today also defended the actions of Health Minister Simon Harris and officials within the department.

The Tánaiste said they were not aware of the issue of some women who were subsequently diagnosed with cervical cancer not being given information about reviews of their smear tests.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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