"Nobody in Government is happy" about Tony Holohan situation, says Varadkar
The Tánaiste said there is a right way and a wrong way to handle such matters.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has weighed in on the Tony Holohan secondment controversy, admitting that "nobody in Government is happy" regarding the situation.
Speaking on Friday morning following confirmation from Taoiseach Micheál Martin that the Chief Medical Officer's planned secondment to take up a professorial role at Trinity College is now on hold, Varadkar admitted the matter could have been handled better.
"Nobody in Government is happy about this," the Tánaiste told RTÉ News.
"Because even though we are not involved in it in any way, inevitably these things do reflect on us because we are the politicians in charge and that's why the Taoiseach took the decision to pause the appointment until we get a proper understanding on what happened here and whether procedures were properly followed."
Varadkar noted that there is a right way and a wrong way to handle secondment procedures, and that the Government needs to ensure it addresses the matter in the correct manner.
He also underlined the role of taxpayer's money in proceedings.
The Tánaiste explained how both he and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, who only became aware of the nature of Holohan's new role on Tuesday of this week, made the "reasonable assumption" that a post had arisen in Trinity College and thus Holohan had subsequently applied for the job.
In conversation on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Wednesday, Donnelly said it was not a case of the Department of Health paying for two CMOs, but rather there would be one CMO – yet to be appointed – and Dr Holohan would be performing research into future pandemic responses.
“I think this is important and we need absolute clarity on this,” Donnelly said.
Speaking on Thursday, Holohan said he does not intend to return to the position of Chief Medical Officer.
Holohan said that the Department of Health is committed to the development of public health capacity for the future.
Holohan stated that while Ireland has "fared well in many aspects of its response" to the Covid-19 pandemic, there is still room for improvement.
"It is to further this potential that I am taking up the Professorship of Public Health Strategy & Leadership in Trinity College Dublin," he added.
"Specifically, the Department intends me to lead the development and activities of inter-institutional collaboration between universities and the health sector and to develop stronger links with the World Health Organisation and the European Union."
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