'huge loss' | 

Dr Tony Holohan will NOT take up job at Trinity College and is set to leave public service

The role had caused massive political controversy in recent days

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

Hugh O'Connell

CHIEF medical officer Tony Holohan will not take up a new academic position at Trinity College Dublin and is to leave the public service.

The announcement comes following several days of controversy after it emerged that Dr Holohan would take up the new role as an open-ended secondment that would see the Department of Health continue to pay his €187,000-a-year salary.

Dr Holohan was due to take up a role as professor of public health strategy and leadership at Trinity College Dublin on July 1 following an announcement a fortnight ago.

It subsequently emerged that Dr Holohan would not be resigning as chief medical officer, rather he would be moving to Trinity on secondment while retaining the same public service pay and conditions.

The nature and funding for the role had caused significant political controversy in recent days with Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath describing the arrangement as “unusual”.

The Taoiseach announced on Friday that the process would be paused pending a report on the matter to be compiled by Robert Watt, the Department of Health secretary general, who signed off on the secondment.

Mr Watt’s report is due to be delivered to the Taoiseach on Monday.

The Department of Health said on Thursday that the "arrangements are being made between the Department and Trinity College regarding the funding of the post”.

However, the third level institution is understood to have maintained that it would not be in any way funding Dr Holohan’s position.

In a statement issued by the Department of Health, Dr Holohan said: "I have decided not to proceed with my secondment as Professor of Public Health Leadership and Strategy, Trinity College Dublin.

"I intend to retire as CMO with effect from 1 July to allow the Department of Health sufficient time to advance the process of appointing my successor.

"I do not wish to see the controversy of the last few days continuing. In particular, I wish to avoid any further unnecessary distraction that this has caused to our senior politicians and civil servants.

"My strong belief is that this was a significant opportunity to work with the university sector to develop much needed public health capacity and leadership for the future. In this regard, I would like to thank Trinity College and the Provost for their foresight and support in establishing this role.

"Following my departure, I look forward to sharing my knowledge and expertise outside of the public service."

Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Dr Linda Doyle, has released a statement described Dr Holohan's decision as a huge loss.

"This is a huge loss for Ireland's education sector, and for all the students who would have learned so much from Dr Holohan's experience."

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