Dr Tony Holohan has said he has no plans to return to his role as Chief Medical Officer at any point in the future.
Dr Holohan is due to leave his role in July of this year and take up a position at Trinity College.
It emerged in recent days that the Department of Health will continue to pay his full €187,000 salary while he is working at the college.
The move has been described as a ‘secondment’; however, Dr Holohan this morning told a private meeting of the Oireachtas Health Committee he has no intention of ever returning to his role.
“My secondment to Trinity College Dublin means I have agreed to relinquish my role as Chief Medical Officer,” he said. “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.”
NEW: Dr Tony Holohan says it isn't his intention to return to the role of CMO in the future. He's facing questions this morning about why the Department of Health will continue to pay his salary as a Professor in Trinity - but in a private meeting of the Health Committee
— Seán Defoe (@SeanDefoe) April 7, 2022
He said his role as Professor of Public Health Strategy and Leadership at Trinity would allow him to develop collaboration between universities and the health sector and develop stronger links with the WHO and agencies of the EU.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“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 me 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.”
Yesterday the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly told Newstalk Breakfast that he viewed Dr Holohan’s move as a “really positive thing for the country”.
He said he learned about the move two weeks ago; however, it has since emerged that he was only informed on Tuesday that the move was a secondment.
It remains unclear who within the department signed off on the agreement.
"Questions to be answered"
On The Hard Shoulder the Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said there were “questions to be answered” about the nature of the contract.
He said he believes it is important that Dr Holohan remains a public servant – but said the decision to keep paying him through the Department of Health “could have been communicated in a different way”.
He said there are “issues in relation to the contract and it's duration” that need to be clarified by the department.
The Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath also said questions need to be answered.
“There are characteristics of this that are unusual and it could have been handled better in the sense that, when confirmation was provided that Dr Holohan was leaving the Department of Health, I think the assumption was that it was a permanent move,” he said.
“Secondments by their nature are generally temporary in nature. This particular one is open-ended in nature - which is unusual. So there are questions that arise there that will have to be answered.”