‘Lessons have to be learned’ from Holohan TCD controversy, Taoiseach says

The Taoiseach has mentioned “lessons have to be learned” from the controversy over the appointment of Dr Tony Holohan to a Trinity College Dublin educational place. However Micheál Martin mentioned he didn’t see there being additional penalties for anybody, and mentioned he had full confidence within the secretary basic of the Department of Health Robert Watt.

“Transparency from the outset would have been appropriate,” he mentioned. “I think it’s regrettable given the fact that Tony has played a very strong role in bringing us through the pandemic. But there has to be a process too and I think there has to be full transparency in relation to all of these issues.”

The chief medical officer on Saturday introduced he would to not proceed along with his secondment to TCD and can retire from July as a substitute.

The appointment to the TCD function has sparked controversy because it emerged that it was meant that Dr Holohan go away on an open-ended secondment, an association which is often time-bound within the civil service. Dr Holohan mentioned he didn’t want “ to see the controversy of the last few days continuing”. The query of who would fund the function additionally brought on controversy, with Trinity saying final week the put up could be funded by the Department of Health.

Speaking on Sunday the Taoiseach mentioned: “There will be a comprehensive summary and report tomorrow from the secretary general in health to the Minister for Health but I think certainly lessons have to be learned.”

“Anything that involves the spending of public money or any substantive multi-annual programme of research is a policy issue that does require approval by government.”

Mr Martin mentioned he was “puzzled” by reviews that Dr Holohan’s wage was to not come from public funds. “It’s clear to me that this was to be funded by the exchequer from what I know now.”

Mr Martin mentioned that particulars given to him on Thursday by the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly reveals the Holohan appointment was to funded by the Department of Health, by the Heallth Research Board, a state physique.

Mr Martin instructed that the appointment was a coverage matter, not a personnel problem. But he additionally mentioned that any dialogue on the difficulty shouldn’t be “personalised”. He mentioned he had full confidence in Mr Watt, describing him as a “capable public servant”.

“This is very regrettable issue the way it has unfolded and transpired,” he mentioned. “Could have been done better. Lessons have to be learned from it.” “We’re not happy with it,” he mentioned.

Asked if there ought to be penalties for folks concerned, Mr Martin mentioned he would favor to give attention to the teachings to be discovered. Asked if this meant there could be no penalties, Mr Martin mentioned: “Let’s see the report tomorrow and let’s take it in terms of the lessons to be learned.”


Elsewhere Sinn Fein’s well being spokesman David Cullinane and Fianna Fail TD John Laharte, each members of the Oireachtas well being committee, respectively described the dealing with of Dr Holohan’s deliberate transfer to Trinity as “a mess” and “ham-fisted”.

Both TDs mentioned they wished it mentioned earlier than the committee within the coming days and to have the Minster for Health and Mr Watt, attend.

The “mess” is solely the making of “very senior civil servants within the Department but also of the Minister for Health who failed to clarify many of these issues for days” and has “real questions to answer”, Mr Cullinane advised RTE Radio One’s This Week.

“I believe senior civil servants are running rings around the Minister for Health not just on this issue but also the establishment of regional health areas, consultant contract talks, all of thse issue which are really important”.

Senior officers within the HSE and the Department, not the Minister, are “running the show”, and that’s not the way in which it ought to be, he mentioned.

The Holohan matter is a multitude, he added, of the pinnacle of the Department, who, when earlier than the committee final week was requested about problems with course of and procedures and “questions were not answered”.

At the tip of the day there must be honest procedures with regards to public appointments and points in relation to public pay and really senior officers, he mentioned. “There has to be robust procedures but they also have to be implemented and followed without fear or favour.”

The communication round this was “quite poor but we were also told this was a secondment when the civil service handbook makes quite clear that secondments can only be temporary arrangements and for a specified period of time and yet we were told this was a permanent transfer.”

The Deputy mentioned he by no means had a problem with Dr Holohan taking on the TCD place, thought that had worth and it will have been “acceptable”, “if we were told from day one, he was not on a secondment but was taking up a permanent role in Trinity College”.

All of that confusion “was entirely the Department’s own making” and the Minister’s authority “is being called into question now because he failed to pause the process, he failed to ask the hard questions and it fell to the Taoiseach to intervene and I think that’s really problematic for the Minister.”

“We’re still none the wiser as to who came up with this procedure, who processed, who signed off on it.”

Mr Cullinane mentioned he wished Dr Holohan nicely in his retirement however would have most well-liked to see him working within the public system. This final result, in addition to being a blow for the previous CMO personally, is “a blow for the public service and for many of us who want to see a beefing up of public health departments as well as public health specialists working in the public system”.

He agreed with Mr Laharte there ought to be an early assembly of the well being committee to debate the report due on Monday from the Secretary General on the matter.

Mr Laharte mentioned he would welcome an early assembly to debate the report and to name no matter witnesses, together with the Minister and Mr Watt to attend.

He mentioned Dr Holohan’e expertise was clearly invaluable within the creation of the TCD place and the intention was to make sure programs could be designed to make sure that any gaps regarding pandemic associated programs could be stuffed.

The notion of the method “is the key thing”, he mentioned. This is the primary authorities that created a cupboard place of Minister for Higher Education, Innovation and Research and he would have thought, if Trinity wished to create this, certainly one of its first ports of name could be authorities for an enter due to the general public and psychological well being and different elements. A “much more holistic approach” was wanted to the matter, he mentioned.

“One of the clear messages from this is that the public need to know that the government is in charge,” the TD mentioned.

This has been “ham-fisted”, not simply by way of communications however phrases of the design and creation of the place, and is “one of a series of less than transparent appointments to very senior positions in the civil service.”

He accepted it’s “a continuous judgment call” by way of what the secretary basic and senior officers inform the Minister who can’t be overwhelmed or anticipated to know each element in a division.

“This is a really significant appointment of a very, very senior public official held in high esteem by the public and a position understood and welcomed, while it allowed him to go to Trinity, it also maintained him as a public servant.”

It was very clear from the statements of presidency ministers when the appointment was introduced they noticed this because the departure of a public official, Mr Holohan, to Trinity, Mr Laharte mentioned. “A Minister is only as good as the information he is given.”

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