Tony Holohan had the opportunity to take on part-time jobs in the private sector as part of the planned professorship at Trinity College


Chief Physician Dr Tony Holohan would have been allowed to take paid work in the private sector as a professor at Trinity College as part of a €2 million per year teaching and research package.

The revelation comes in a letter from Health Department Secretary-General Robert Watt to Trinity Provost Linda Doyle last month, outlining the terms of the new post.

dr Holohan, in his mid-50s, would remain an officer and employee of the Department of Health, but would be seconded to Trinity indefinitely until he retires in about 10 years, while retaining his chief medical officer’s salary of €187,000 and any pay rises due under his grade.

Mr Watt said in his letter – which he believed should be strictly confidential – that Dr. Holohan could also “undertake work (paid or voluntary) outside the public service that is not inconsistent with his role at Trinity College.”

dr Holohan announced last Saturday that he would not be proceeding with the post after Taoiseach Michael Martin called for a pause in the process. The Taoiseach had concerns about transparency and the use of public funds.

dr Holohan, who intended his post to improve pandemic and other preparedness, said he believes it is an opportunity to develop much-needed public health capacity and leadership.

He will retire in July but looks forward to “sharing my knowledge and expertise outside of public service.”

Mr Watt’s letter of intent dated March 16 – approved by the Trinity Provost – stressed that the content must be kept strictly confidential.

Mr Donnelly, who only found out last Tuesday that Dr. Holohan would be seconded from Trinity College and not employed will now prompt an external review of the process and decision-making surrounding the appointment.

A spokesman for Mr Donnelly said yesterday the minister would appoint the outside expert to examine the process and make recommendations on lessons learned.

The Taoiseach’s department yesterday did not respond to questions about its former secretary-general, Martin Fraser, who Dr. According to the Watt Report, Holohan announced in February that he was being seconded and later inquired how the matter was progressing.

Mr Watt said he interpreted Mr Fraser’s interest as a signal of senior support.

Mr. Fraser is likely to be questioned by the outside assessor as to what he knew and how he passed that information to the Taoiseach.

Mr Watt said in the March letter to Trinity that the annual earmarked allocation of €2 million in support of Dr. Holohan and his research would be managed by the Health Research Board, although details have yet to be determined.

But the Health Research Board (HRB), which has to be strict about allocating funding, said yesterday it was mentioned in the briefing paper on the proposed holohan posting as a potential “channel” for funding.

“The HRB wishes to clarify that it was not involved in any discussion of this post and has not received any correspondence from the Department of Health or Trinity College regarding the funding of the secondment of the Chief Medical Officer,” it said.

“The Minister has announced his intention to carry out an external review in relation to the proposed secondment and research proposal and the HRB will cooperate fully with this review should we be asked to do so.”

The Taoiseach yesterday insisted he was not aware of any issues related to the research role or the secondment.

“The research proposal itself, in terms of building capacity to prepare for a pandemic, is well deserved given what we have all been through. We could in all likelihood have future pandemics, but external review will now take place again to learn lessons,” he said.

“The whole episode is unfortunate. I think people acted with good intentions, but from a communication point of view and other aspects, it’s clearly the key, there are definitely lessons to be learned from all of this.

“Now there will be an external review to really set out the lessons to be learned.”

Mairéad Farrell, Sinn Féin’s spokeswoman for public spending and reform, claimed “in dealing with the proposed appointment of Dr. Holohan on Trinity paid little attention to taxpayers’ money.”

It is important that an external review is carried out “so that we know what happened and why,” a government source said. Tony Holohan had the opportunity to take on part-time jobs in the private sector as part of the planned professorship at Trinity College

Fry Electronics Team

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