Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that “lessons will have to be learnt” from the controversy surrounding the Department of Health’s offer to pay Dr Tony Holohan’s salary while seconded to work as a professor at Trinity College.
Dr Holohan had intended to work as Professor of Public Health Leadership and Strategy at the university, however on Saturday he announced that he would forego the appointment:
“I do not wish to see the controversy of the last few days continuing,” he said in a statement to the press.
“In particular, I wish to avoid any further unnecessary distraction that this has caused to our senior politicians and civil servants.”
An Taoiseach said the Government would have to study where mistakes were made:
“Lessons will have to be learnt,” he said.
“There will be a comprehensive summary and report tomorrow from the Secretary General to the Minister for Health.
“But certainly lessons have to learnt and I was very clear that anything that involves the spending of public money or any substantive multiannual programme of research is a policy issue that does require approval by Government.”
Loss to public service
Dr Holohan intends to retire from his job as Chief Medical Officer on 1st July and has hinted he will seek work in the private sector - something Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said was a big loss to the public sector.
“I think it’s a real pity that someone of Tony Holohan’s ability won’t be in a position now where they can feed back his knowledge, his expertise, his experience to new students in an Irish university,” Minister O’Gorman told On The Record with Gavan Reilly.
“And I think we need to figure out a way where that can be done in a manner that’s felt to be acceptable.
“When I heard the announcement that he was taking up that position, I remember thinking, ‘Wow, that’s a great idea. That’s someone with real expertise who can now take that knowledge on public health and give it to students.’”
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“What we probably need now is probably to sit down and look at that transfer from I suppose from a civil service position to a position elsewhere in the public service like a public university and see how that can be done in a way that everyone regards as transparent and everyone regards as fair.”