Politics

Robert Watt to defend his position in now-scrapped Holohan TCD appointment


Senior official Robert Watt is anticipated to strongly defend his position within the now-abandoned appointment of Dr Tony Holohan to a publish in Trinity College Dublin in a report for Government on the method.

Mr Watt, who’s the secretary basic of the Department of Health, is because of current his report back to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly on Monday, following the announcement on Saturday evening that Dr Holohan wouldn’t take up the appointment, and would retire from the publish of chief medical officer in the summertime.

Mr Watt is more likely to mount a strong defence of the proposed appointment of Dr Holohan to the publish in Trinity, regardless of renewed criticism over the weekend from Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who stated that “lessons have to be learned” from the controversy.

Mr Watt’s report is anticipated to say that Mr Donnelly was conscious of the proposed secondment of Dr Holohan – although the Minister stated final week he was not conscious of the main points – and likewise that the secretary basic of the Department of the Taoiseach, Martin Fraser, was additionally knowledgeable upfront. It can also be more likely to reference Government plans to extend analysis funding for public well being.

Senior sources throughout Government worry an unprecedented conflict between a senior official and Government politicians over the affair.

On Sunday, Mr Martin once more criticised the method for the appointment, although he expressed confidence in Mr Watt, describing him as a “capable public servant”. But there may be nonetheless appreciable anger amongst Ministers in regards to the controversy, with many privately pointing fingers at Mr Watt’s position within the affair.

Separately, the Department of Public Expenditure has confirmed to The Irish Times that it was not knowledgeable in regards to the proposed secondment of Dr Holohan to TCD till six days after it was introduced, when the Department of Health sought sanction to funding for a brand new chief medical officer.

The appointment to the TCD position has sparked controversy because it emerged that it was meant that Dr Holohan go away on an open-ended secondment. The query of who would fund the position additionally triggered controversy, with Trinity saying final week the publish could be funded by the Department of Health.

Speaking on Sunday, Mr Martin stated: “There can be a complete abstract and report tomorrow from the secretary basic in Health to the Minister for Health however I believe definitely classes must be discovered.

‘Puzzled’

“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.” He stated there ought to have been “transparency from the outset”.

Mr Martin stated he was “puzzled” by studies 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.”

Sinn Féin’s well being spokesman David Cullinane and Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart, each members of the Oireachtas Health Committee, respectively described the dealing with of Dr Holohan’s deliberate transfer to TCD as “a mess” and “ham-fisted”.

Both TDs stated they wished it mentioned earlier than the committee within the coming days and to have Mr Donnelly and Mr Watt attend.

The “mess” is fully 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 informed RTÉ 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 these issue which are really important.”

On Saturday, Dr Holohan introduced his withdrawal from the plans, saying that he didn’t want “to see the controversy of the last few days continuing”.



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