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FG Senator demands explanation of Holohan TCD salary

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.

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.

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.”

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.”

“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.”

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.”

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