A Fine Gael Senator has demanded to know “how and why” Dr. Tony Holohan will continue to receive his CMO’s salary from the Department of Health even after he leaves the role.
The comments were made yesterday, with Senator Jerry Buttimer calling for Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath to come before the Seanad and explain themselves.
Jerry Buttimer calls on the Minister for Health to explain why Tony Holohan has been moved into Trinity College in a role paid for directly by the state. pic.twitter.com/bAzDoBfw9t
— JRD (@JRD0000) April 5, 2022
Buttimer said he would like to know “how it is that the position of the public health strategy leadership professorship in Trinity College Dublin, TCD, is being funded by the taxpayer and the State.”
He went on to say he had “no issue” with CMO Holohan personally, or his appointment to the Trinity College position. However, he raised concerns regarding the position’s funding.
“This afternoon in the Dáil the Taoiseach said he had “no hand, act or part” in the secondment of Dr. Tony Holohan to the position in TCD,” said Buttimer.
“Who had such an input? How did it happen and why? How is it the Taoiseach, as Head of Government, had no hand, act or part in that process? Who did?”
He continued: “Who said it is okay for the outgoing Chief Medical Officer – I will not personalise the matter – to go on secondment to Trinity College and for this to be paid for by the taxpayer via the Department of Health? Who signed off on that and why?”
In addition to retaining his salary, Dr. Holohan will also reportedly be retaining his state pension.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan is still guaranteed his gold-plated pension (despite leaving his current job for a newly created Trinity professorship) as a result of rule changes made just last year.
— Kevin Doyle (@KevDoyle_Indo) April 6, 2022
Many prominent individuals have reacted to the development, such as Irish Times parliamentary correspondent Michael O’Regan.
“No problem when the public are paying the bill,” said O’Regan.
“What is this about?…This Government should explain.”
No problem when the public are paying the bill. What is this about? How is the chap who got the extra eighty grand doing? This Government should explain.
— Michael O'Regan (@Michael_O_Regan) April 5, 2022
Former Minister for State for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton, asked: “Why on earth would the Dept of Health be funding an open ended TCD professorship? While presumably paying the salary of a new CMO.”
What??? Why on earth would the Dept of Health be funding an open ended TCD professorship? While presumably paying the salary of a new CMO …
— Lucinda Creighton (@LCreighton) April 5, 2022
“Dept Health paying Tony Holohan’s Trinity salary stinks to high heaven,” said Irish Examiner journalist Cianan Brennan.
“Who OK’ed it? This is barely a year after the misery of the Watt salary fiasco. Zero accountability. Again.”
Dept Health paying Tony Holohan's Trinity salary stinks to high heaven. What is the point of such a deal? Who OK'ed it? This is barely a year after the misery of the Watt salary fiasco. Zero accountability. Again
— Cianan Brennan (@ciananbrennan) April 5, 2022
However, some defended the move, including CEO of Health Research Charities Ireland Dr. Avril Kennan.
“It’s really important to bring the real-world expertise into research and into training the next generation, so that we are more prepared for the next pandemic,” said Kennan.
“Regardless who pays, it’s public money.”
Yes Eibhlin! It's really important to bring the real-world expertise into research and into training the next generation, so that we are more prepared for the next pandemic. Regardless who pays, its public money.
— Avril Kennan 🌍 (@AvrilKennan) April 6, 2022