The minister did not need to know about the secondment of the CMO
A report by the Secretary General of the Department of Health, Watt Report, on the abandoned appointment of Dr Tony Holohan to a post at Trinity College Dublin says the Minister of Health was not informed of the details or that he s It was even a secondment, RTÉ News has learned.
Mr. Watt argued that this was his delegated area of responsibility under the act, so the Minister did not need to be informed.
It says there are a lot of secondments, maybe 50/60 between the ministry, HSE and other bodies and it’s not the minister’s business but a matter of staffing and staff.
This indicates that the CMO may have initiated the contact with Trinity College Dublin and developed from there.
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The report acknowledges that more information sooner would have been better, but the appointment was leaked and the department had to release statements.
He says funding had not been fully agreed at this stage, but may have been done through the Health Research Council.
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach has confirmed that appointing Dr Tony Holohan to the post at Trinity College Dublin would have cost the Department of Health €2million over ten years.
“People know the respect I have for Dr Holohan, which goes back many years,” Mr Martin told reporters. “I find the whole situation we find ourselves in regrettable. There should have been more transparency about it from the start,” he said.
The Taoiseach said he would review the report in more detail and discuss it with his cabinet colleagues.
“It is clear that the funding was to come from the Department of Health, through the Health Research Council, from which the salary (of €187,000 per year) would have been paid,” he said. declared.
Mr Martin also confirmed that Dr Holohan will chair the successor group to the newly established NPHET until his retirement in July.
The opposition has strongly criticized Minister Donnelly and Mr Watt for their role in the controversy.
Social Democrat co-leader Róisín Shortall said it was “shocking” that Minister Donnelly was unaware of all the details of the appointment.
‘The idea that the Department’s General Secretary feels the Minister did not need to be briefed is truly shocking. Why has he taken it upon himself to take this stance?’ MP Shortall asked on Drivetime of RTE.
“You should be wondering, has Stephen Donnelly lost his authority within the ministry? Has he lost control of what goes on there? Certainly the intervention of the Taoiseach in my view raises questions on his confidence in the Minister.
“You imagine the minister would have been briefed by his secretary-general on the details, but secondly, if he wasn’t, he would have asked about it.
“Is he on secondment, getting his normal salary? Has there been any questioning of any of that, especially in light of the government’s mishandling of the Katherine Zappone case during the summer?”
At that time, we were told that lessons had been learned. You should ask if any lessons have been learned and we are now hearing the same line coming from the Taoiseach,” Deputy Shorthall added.
She also criticized the apparent leak of the report, which has yet to be officially released.
“I wish to avoid any other unnecessary distraction”
Dr Holohan said he would retire as chief medical officer from July 1.
In a statement on Saturday, Dr Holohan said he did not want the controversy to continue.
“In particular, I wish to avoid any further unnecessary distraction this has caused to our senior politicians and officials,” he said.
He added: “My deep belief is that this was an important opportunity to work with the academic sector to build much-needed public health capacity and leadership for the future.
“In this regard, I would like to thank Trinity College and the Provost for their foresight and support in establishing this role.
“After my departure, I look forward to sharing my knowledge and expertise outside the public service.”
Last month, it was announced that Dr Holohan would step down as chief medical officer to take up the post of professor of public health strategy and leadership at the college.
Controversy developed when it emerged that this was an indefinite secondment, which the Department of Health would fund out of the outgoing CMO’s annual salary.
It emerged Trinity College’s board had been told last month of a new post of professor of public health strategy, but not that advanced negotiations were underway with Dr Holohan.
The board meeting took place on March 23 and members were briefed on the creation of a new interdisciplinary chair, the logic behind the position, but not who was lined up for the position.
A TCD spokesman said the board does not approve individual nominations. “It is the role of the interview committee to select the candidate and of the Academic Council to approve this selection,” they said.
They confirmed that Dr. Holohan’s approval process was finalized within 48 hours of the board meeting in March.
It is understood that the General Secretary of the Taoiseach’s department, Martin Fraser, had a number of confidential conversations with Dr Holohan about his future plans and was aware that he was considering moving to the university sector.
However, Mr. Fraser was unaware of the details of the arrangement.
Meanwhile, the Oireachtas Committee on Public Spending and Reform must investigate the proceedings regarding Dr. Holohan’s abandoned planned secondment.
Committee chairman John McGuinness said any correspondence relating to the process will now be sought.
He said the Committee was best placed to examine secondment given its role in overseeing public spending.
The Committee will ask the Secretary General of the Ministry of Health, Robert Watt, as well as the outgoing Secretary General of the Ministry of the Taoiseach, Martin Fraser, to appear before it on April 21.
The Committee will then decide whether it wishes to hear from the Minister for Health, the Minister for Public Expenditure and the Taoiseach on the matter.
Additional reporting Sandra Hurley, Mary Regan and Micheál Lehane