It is clear that the Health Minister has lost control of his Department and lacks authority

It is hugely regrettable that Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan was dragged into a political controversy of the Department of Health’s creation and is now leaving the public service, according to Social Democrats Health Spokesperson Róisín Shortall.

“Public health has always been the poor relation of the health service and the pandemic has taught us that must change. It is vital that public health is strengthened as a discipline and it therefore made sense to create an academic position, focused on public health, in a university.

“However, the process governing that appointment was deeply flawed with the Secretary General of the Department of Health, Robert Watt, doing a deal behind closed doors and failing to keep Health Minister Stephen Donnelly apprised of the conditions of employment.

“Yesterday, in an unprecedented intervention, Taoiseach Micheál Martin paused the appointment and ordered a review – an effective overruling of his Minister, Stephen Donnelly, who had welcomed the appointment. It is clear that the Minister has lost control of his Department and lacks authority.

“The net result of this fiasco is that Dr Tony Holohan, who provided the State with excellent leadership throughout the pandemic, has been dragged into a political controversy and is leaving the public service.

“All of the expertise and skill that Dr Holohan developed, throughout the pandemic, will now be lost to the public service – and, indeed, future generations of medics who would have benefited from Dr. Holohan’s knowledge as a professor.

“The government failed to learn the lessons of the Katherine Zappone debacle, regarding making public appointments, and has now made a complete mess of what should have been a relatively straightforward process. When will the penny drop that there must be transparency when public appointments are being made?

“Over a 20 year career, and especially during the pandemic, Dr Holohan provided the State with excellent service as Chief Medical Officer. I would like to wish him the very best in his future career.”

9 April, 2022


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