In a new book detailing how the state dealt with the outbreak of the pandemic, Mr Reid said there were “very challenging” talks with Mr Donnelly in his early days as health secretary.
The book also reveals that Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan didn’t trust Mr Donnelly the advice he gave him on the pandemic.
Pandemonium: Power, Politics and Ireland’s Pandemicuntil Irish Independent‘s Hugh O’Connell and Jack Horgan-Jones from the Irish times, also describes how the minister enraged staff in his department by coming to his office despite showing Covid-19 symptoms.
Mr Donnelly has come under considerable criticism from Paul Reid for speaking to the HSE chief and his officials after his appointment as Minister.
Mr Reid said there were “a few challenging early discussions – very challenging – but that would be expected”.
He said Mr Donnelly would raise issues you would expect from a new minister.
However, he added, “there was an initial style of how he handled it” that “might be perceived as a little dismissive and disrespectful, which would have angered my team quite a bit.”
The book also reveals the minister asked for the department’s gym to be opened so he could “let off some steam” during the week, as well as a Microsoft Surface Pro to “see how it fares” versus one AppleiPad.
Meanwhile, the book also reveals details of a plan the government is considering to develop a dystopian surveillance system using CCTV information, credit card transactions and cellphone data to ensure people are adhering to social distancing rules.
Information from social media and bank data on takeaway behavior should also be collected and tracked as part of the strategy developed by the consulting firm EY.
“What emerged was an almost Orwellian plan bizarrely named 1 Government Center (1GC),” the book states.
The government eventually dropped the plan Dr. Holohan said he was a “load of horse***s” in sessions.
Nphet was concerned that EY was hired by the government to help fight the virus and develop social distancing guidelines. However, Mr Donnelly supported the company’s involvement in pandemic talks.
The book also claims that Dr. Holohan believed his “advice is not safe in the hands of the Secretary of Health”.
“Senior Nphet officials, including Holohan, did not feel their advice was supported or well represented by the Secretary of Health – certainly not in the way Simon Harris had at the start of the pandemic,” the book reads.
“It wasn’t that Nphet thought their word should be taken as gospel – Donnelly was free to disagree with them and express his own views – but they believed that it was his job to take Nphet’s advice, once arrived, faithfully representing government, which could then decide whether to follow it or not.”
The lack of trust between the Minister and Nphet centered on Mr Donnelly’s tracking of the use of rapid antigen tests and opposing the introduction of a Level 5 lockdown in October 2020.
However, Mr Donnelly downplayed tensions with Nphet, saying he felt he had always had an “excellent working relationship” with his top advisers, praising them as “dedicated doctors and officials.
The book also describes how officers were “upset and alarmed” when Mr Donnelly was in the department after developing Covid-19 symptoms in September 2020.
The minister developed symptoms in his department following the introduction of a government plan on living with Covid-19, and deputy chief medical officer Dr. Ronan Glynn advised him to take a test, the book states.
A source said staff on the sixth floor, where Mr Donnelly’s office is located, were “angry,” adding, “I think he really lost the department after that.”
A spokesman for Mr Donnelly said he was following all public health guidelines, isolating and working from home.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/hse-staff-riled-by-dismissive-stephen-donnelly-claims-health-chief-41606011.html HSE workers angered by ‘dismissive’ Stephen Donnelly, health chief claims