The Chief Medical Officer’s move to a role at Trinity College is a “really positive thing for the country”, the Health Minister has told Newstalk Breakfast.
It was really announced that Dr Holohan would leave his post as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in July of this year.
Yesterday, it emerged that will continue to have his full €187,000 salary paid by the Department of Health while he works as Professor of Public Health Strategy and Leadership in Trinity.
The Department said Dr Holohan will officially be on secondment from the Department and will be on the same terms and conditions he currently enjoys as CMO.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly defended the arrangement.
“I think there is a huge amount of support and appreciation for what Dr Holohan has done in his role over the last 15 years,” he said.
“Obviously, I have worked very closely with him during the pandemic and I think it is fair to say he has done an excellent job.
“He is staying on the exact same terms and conditions he is on within the Department of Health and obviously, had he chosen to, he could have stayed on as chief Medical Officer for many years to come; until he retired.
“I was told about the move about two weeks ago. It is certainly a move I support and I think it is a very good move for the country because Tony was looking for a new challenge, he wanted to stay within public service and the research he is going to be leading now in Trinity is research around future pandemic preparedness for Ireland.”
Minister Donnelly said a number of Asian countries were better prepared for the pandemic because they invested in new research after the SARs epidemic of 2003.
“Tony is going to be leading a lot of that thinking and a lot of that research in Trinity and I think that is a really positive thing,” he said.
“If Dr Holohan wanted to stay in his current role, he could stay in his current role and we would continue to pay his salary as Chief Medical Officer.
“He would be on exactly the same terms and conditions. He is entitled to them within the Department of Health, as I say, had he stayed.
“I think this is a positive result for the country and I think most fair-minded people would say that it is a really positive thing that we will have someone with Dr Holohan’s experience and talent and passion leading a lot of the research now to get Ireland ready should there be another pandemic in the country.”
Minister Donnelly also used the interview to announce that a second vaccine booster is to be offered to the immunocompromised and people over the age of 65.
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