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Dr Tony Holohan says ‘new adventures lie ahead’ as he steps down as Chief Medical Officer

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Dr Tony Holohan

Dr Tony Holohan

Dr Tony Holohan

Dr Tony Holohan has today stepped down as Chief Medical Officer, thanking the public and colleagues for their support following the death of his beloved wife Emer.

Dr Holohan wrote on Twitter: “Today I depart the civil service and my role as CMO. It’s been an honour to serve the Irish people.

“Thank you to my colleagues, friends & the public, especially for your support when Emer died. And thank you to my family. New adventures lie ahead.”

Dr Holohan had steered Ireland through the pandemic as head of Nphet and he had done so when his wife, Dr Emer Feehily, was seriously ill with multiple myeloma.

Dr Feehily died in February. Dr Holohan has held the reins as CMO for 14 years and he had spoken of the “honour” he’d felt serving the Irish people during the pandemic.

However, he also admitted in a Linkedin post after his wife’s passing, the loss had given him time to reflect.

He had decided “to do something meaningful in her memory,” though specifics of his future are as of yet unclear.

In March Dr Holohan announced he was stepping down to take up an academic role at Trinity College. However, that decision was controversial and ultimately he did not take up the position.

Dr Holohan came under scrutiny in 2018 after the Cervival Check scandal, after it was highlighted he had advised the Government against utilising a full review of the screening programme.

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This was later revealed publicly when stories emerged of women, including Vicky Phelan, having not been told the result of their slides from Cervical Check.

Ms Phelan is currently suffering terminal cancer and has campaigned avidly since.

In 2021, Dr Holohan said he held a “huge amount of regret” over the damage caused to women in the Cervical Check scheme.

Professor Breda Smyth has been appointed an interim chief medical officer. She will take up the role next week.


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