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Release of 44 emails about Tony Holohan Trinity’s job “not in the public interest,” says an official

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The release of a spate of emails surrounding Tony Holohan’s move to Trinity College – showing it took more than a month for Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly to be copied – has been denied for being “not in the public interest”.

This is despite the issue occupying two separate Oireachtas committee hearings, a pause from Taoiseach Micheál Martin ordering a report, and now an external review of “learning outcomes.”

However, a senior health ministry official declined to release the 44 emails Irish Independent under a freedom of information request, stating that it failed a public interest test.

The timing of the emails shows that it took more than a month for the minister to be copied in the correspondence.

This came in early April after media revelations that led to the minister finding out for the first time that Dr. Holohan would not resign but would remain on the staff of the Ministry of Health on his €187,000 salary while he was seconded to the university on a permanent basis.

The Secretary-General of the Department of Health, Robert Watt, had committed, without authorization, to funding the teaching and research facility at €2 million per year, which would equate to around €20 million until Dr

THE publication of a spate of emails surrounding Tony HoLohan’s move to Trinity College – showing it took more than a month for Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly to be copied was rejected because it was not “in the public interest”.

And that despite the issue occupying two separate Oireachtas committee hearings, a pause from Taoiseach Micheál Martin ordering a report, and now an external review of “learning outcomes.”

However, a senior health ministry official declined to release the 44 emails Irish Independent under a freedom of information request, stating that it failed a public interest test.

The timing of the emails shows that it took more than a month for the minister to be copied in the correspondence.

This came in early April after media revelations that led to the minister learning for the first time that Dr. Holohan would not resign but would remain on the staff of the Ministry of Health on his €187,000 salary while he was seconded to the university on a permanent basis.

The Secretary General of the Department of Health, Robert Watt, had committed without authorization to fund the teaching and research center with 2 million euros per year, which up to Dr. Holohan’s retirement would be around 20 million euros.

dr Holohan was to fill the role of Professor of Public Health Strategy and Leadership at Trinity College.

But after controversy over the agreement and the Taoiseach’s suspension of the process, he announced he would not accept it and would retire in July. The emails show intense correspondence from mid to late March, particularly between Dr. Holohan, Mr Watt and Human Resources Officer Gráinne Duffy.

A review requested by Mr Martin on April 8 revealed that Mr Watt sent Trinity College a “letter of intent” on March 16, making a commitment, without sanction, to fund €2 million a year.

It was only when the media reported in early April that Dr. Holohan would keep his €187,000 salary – and Trinity would not pay any of it – the emails show the ministers and members of his team, as well as press officers, were included in emails.

The minister appeared on RTÉ Tomorrow Ireland on April 6 to defend the agreement, but later that day there were 12 internal emails between different parties including Mr Watt and Secretary of State Susan Mitchell.

Two days later, the minister emailed Mr Watt directly.

In response to the freedom of information request, Siobhan Yeates of the Strategic Human Resources Unit said the release of the content of the emails failed a public interest test.

She said a review – spearheaded by outgoing executive director of the Institute of Directors Maura Quinn – would do so define “learning”.

And she said the appraiser must be given “space and time” to consider relevant matters.

The department is committed to secrecy about personnel documents.

Protecting information “received in confidence” by the department on the understanding that it was confidential could affect future disclosures of information, she said.

Disclosure would “impair management’s ability to perform its core functions effectively and disclosure could involve disclosure of personally identifiable information.”

Ms Yeates said overall she “places more emphasis on the public interest that advocates withholding of records”.

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dr Holohan was to fill the role of Professor of Public Health Strategy and Leadership at Trinity College.

But after controversy over the agreement and the Taoiseach’s suspension of the process, he announced he would not accept it and would retire in July.

The emails show intense correspondence from mid to late March, particularly between Dr. Holohan, Mr Watt and Human Resources Officer Gráinne Duffy.

A review requested by Mr Martin on April 8 revealed that Mr Watt sent Trinity College a “letter of intent” on March 16, making a commitment, without sanction, to fund €2 million a year.

It was only when the media reported in early April that Dr. Holohan would keep his €187,000 salary – and Trinity would not pay any of it – the emails show the ministers and members of his team, as well as press officers, were included in emails.

The minister appeared on RTÉ Tomorrow Ireland on April 6 to defend the agreement, but later that day there were 12 internal emails between different parties including Mr Watt and Secretary of State Susan Mitchell.

Two days later, the minister emailed Mr Watt directly.

In response to the freedom of information request, Siobhan Yeates of the Strategic Human Resources Unit said the release of the content of the emails failed a public interest test.

She said a review – spearheaded by outgoing executive director of the Institute of Directors Maura Quinn – will determine the “findings”.

And she said the appraiser must be given “space and time” to consider relevant matters.

The department is committed to secrecy about personnel documents.

Protecting information “received in confidence” by the department on the understanding that it was confidential could affect future disclosures of information, she said.

Disclosure would “impair management’s ability to perform its core functions effectively and disclosure could involve disclosure of personally identifiable information.”

Ms Yeates said overall she “places more emphasis on the public interest that advocates withholding of records”.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/release-of-44-emails-on-tony-holohan-trinity-job-not-in-the-public-interest-says-official-41648520.html Release of 44 emails about Tony Holohan Trinity’s job “not in the public interest,” says an official

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