The withdrawal from a desired scientific position and the desired early retirement of the chief physician Dr Tony Holohan is a personally sad outcome for the man who has spearheaded Ireland’s response to the Covid pandemic. However, his decision will not end the controversy.
r Holohan’s proposed appointment to a public health research program at Trinity College Dublin was in principle a good idea, but the manner in which it came about remains entirely questionable.
Therefore, the broader questions remain urgent. This particularly concerns the role played by senior officials in this and other recent appointments. The lack of transparency and accountability behind such decisions is questionable.
The Code of Conduct for Public Service states that the mission of public service is to provide excellent service to the government and other state institutions, and to the public as citizens and users of public services. In general, the civil service routinely meets these standards.
It could also be argued that the proposed appointment of someone from Dr. Holohan’s caliber to lead a public health research program ultimately falls below that standard.
However, civil service standards also require appropriate political scrutiny, particularly when it comes to making the best use of taxpayers’ money.
This proposed appointment did not appear to have met those standards.
If Covid has taught us anything, it is that Ireland was woefully unprepared for the pandemic. It is likely that another such event will occur at some point.
The lessons must be learned. There must be a strategy to deal with future pandemics, and authoritative research must underpin such a strategy.
dr Holohan has been better able than most to learn from these lessons and employ a strategy based on proper research.
It is also that he is a person held in public affection. He led a relatively successful response to the pandemic, often through great personal challenges and no small amount of behind-the-scenes confrontation.
It is likely that the public would have been pleased to hear Dr. Seeing Holohan step into an academic position, and he still has much to offer in preparing this country for future pandemics.
This likelihood does not mitigate the need that due process be followed and that such appointments be considered entirely correct.
It is not for senior civil servants that preparatory jobs are effectively paid entirely from public funds.
This is not the first planned appointment within the civil service that has caused public unease.
In fact, there seems to be a pattern of questionable appointments under this administration.
In order to restore trust at the interface between government and administration, such controversies must be put to rest.
This is only possible if there is open competition and total transparency behind all these appointments.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/editorial/holohan-retreat-wont-be-last-word-on-controversy-41538102.html Holohan withdrawal will not be the last word in controversy