Holohan in talks with UCD about new role ‘since early spring’

Retired chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan, who was at the center of controversy over a planned academic post at Trinity College Dublin, had been in discussions about a professorship at University College Dublin (UCD) since the early spring, we learned.

In an unexpected announcement, UCD said yesterday that Dr Holohan, who retired from the Department of Health last Friday, has been appointed Adjunct Full Professor of Public Health and Agricultural Sciences at the university.

The post, which he is expected to hold for up to five years, is without pay, which is normal for an adjunct professor.

A UCD spokeswoman said yesterday that ‘Professor Holohan has had an ongoing relationship for many years and he is a highly valued alumnus of the university. Dialogue regarding his appointment as a visitor or adjunct is ongoing. course since early spring and was finalized this week.

The appointment is seen as a significant victory for UCD, given Dr Holohan’s stature.

This follows controversy over his proposed appointment earlier this year to an academic post as professor of public health strategy at Trinity, which became mired in controversy after it emerged he would remain an employee of the Department of Health and would receive his €187,000 salary – which Health Minister Stephen Donnelly was unaware of at the time.

It has been revealed that the Secretary General of the Department of Health, Robert Watt, wrote to Trinity in March promising 2 million euros a year in funding to support the position.

When Taoiseach Micheál Martin ordered a break to request a report on the process in early April, Dr Holohan announced that he would not be taking the Trinity post and would retire in July.

Dr Holohan posted on Twitter yesterday that he was ‘delighted’ with his gratis appointment at UCD. He added, “Have big plans to add value to the role and find other interesting things to do.”

Dr. Holohan should be open to other offers outside of academia and has created a professional email account.

The Oireachtas Health Committee previously heard from Dr Holohan that he was considering stepping down in August 2021, but because of Covid-19 he only started speaking to universities around February. UCD said the adjunct professorship is for high achievers “who have been recognized by their peers as exceptional in their field”.