Holo-t of money | 

Tony Holohan to keep public service pension despite new Trinity College professorship

Now it has emerged that from last year anyone on secondment in the civil service can hold on to pension benefits based on their grade.

Dr Tony Holohan

Eilish O’Regan, Senan Molony and Hugh O’Connell

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan is still guaranteed his gold-plated pension when he retires, despite stepping away from his current job for an academic post this summer under a deal worked out for all civil servants last year.

Initially it was revealed that Dr Holohan will hold on to his salary of over €187,000 when he becomes a Trinity College professor in July.

Now it has emerged that from last year anyone on secondment in the civil service can hold on to pension benefits based on their grade.

A press release from the Department of Health announcing his Trinity appointment last month did not say he would remain on his current salary, which is paid through the civil service.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform disclosed the new policy on secondment yesterday after it was confirmed Dr Holohan will keep his salary when he becomes professor of public health strategy and leadership in Trinity from the next academic year.

Dr Tony Holohan is to leave his post as chief medical officer and take up a role at Trinity College Dublin in July

The policy says pension benefits for seconded staff “will be based on the grade the individual is employed in their parent organisation”.

The Department of Health did not respond to a query on what grade Dr Holohan was on, after Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall questioned how both he and his successor could be on the same salary. She said it was a “very odd situation”.

A department spokeswoman confirmed Dr Holohan’s secondment is “open-ended” and said it is “a regular feature across civil and public service to encourage sharing of knowledge and skills in the public interest”.

However, the Department of Public Expenditure could not say how many civil servants are on secondment, adding it is at the discretion of the department where the person is working.

The Department of Health declined to say if any representations had been made to Trinity by Dr Holohan or others. A spokeswoman said the position was created by Trinity with Dr Holohan in mind in light of ongoing global issues, such as the recent pandemic.

Dr Holohan was interviewed by a panel, and his job as chief medical officer will be filled through open competition under the Public Appointments Service and the Top-Level Appointments ­Committee.

Earlier yesterday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he was not involved, in one way or the other, with the Trinity appointment.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath said it was evidence of a “cosy cartel, or a two-tier or three-tier society – where people have to try and survive, and yet you can do this for Dr Holohan, your friend from way back”.

Separately, Dr Holohan has told the Oireachtas Health Committee that he will not be able to appear before it until after the Easter recess.

David Cullinane of Sinn Féin, which sought Dr Holohan’s appearance last week, said it was “quite bizarre” that he would not be available until the end of April to outline the rationale for the current public health advice.

The Dáil will go into recess at the end of this week and not return until April 25.

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