Thousands of messages of thanks have poured in for the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Tony Holohan after he announced last night that he would be temporarily stepping aside from his role due to his wife Emer’s illness.
Speaking at last night’s press conference, Dr Holohan thanked the public for its support.
"A plan has been put in place for others to take responsibility for different aspects of my role.
"As a husband and father and doctor, I am conscious we have been through tough times in recent months and many families have been affected by the course of Covid-19 suffering pain and the loss of loved ones,” he said.
“I would like to thank everyone for their support, understanding and respect for my family’s privacy and would wish that to continue.”
Since then, the Irish public has taken to social media channels to pay its tributes and thank the health chief for his service.
Calls have been made for Dublin's Freedom of the City to be bestowed to the CMO by Fine Gael Councillor Danny Byrne.
"I have today called on Lord Mayor Chu to bestow the freedom of Dublin on Dr Tony Holohan," he said in a statement.
"Dr Holohan has worked tirelessly for many months now and everyone in the country has been assured by his calm and professional demeanour. Originally from Dublin, this I am quite sure will be a very special honour for Dr Holohan," he added.
The hashtag #ThankYouTony has been trending on Twitter since last night, including tributes from politicians and well-known figures.
“Thank you Tony Holohan for being our beacon in so many days of darkness. A gentleman, an amazing public servant and a hero,” wrote newly-appointed Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu.
Thank you Tony Holohan @CMOIreland for being our beacon in so many days of darkness. A gentleman, an amazing public servant and a hero.— Hazel Chu (@hazechu) July 2, 2020
Wishing you and your family well and we hope you all have people to help lift your burdens the same way you lifted ours. #ThankYouTony https://t.co/rLcBKu3hRS
“Wishing you and your family well and we hope you all have people to help lift your burdens the same way you lifted ours.”
One mother, Niamh Slack shared a letter that Dr Holohan had sent to her daughter after she wrote to him, which encouraged her to keep washing her hands and urging her to look after her brothers.
“In the middle of everything, when things were at their worst, you took the time to write to our little girl,” wrote Ms Slack.
“A patriot to his fingertips. A public servant,” wrote Labour TD Aodhan O’Riordain.
Broadcaster Sile Seoige said she was “struggling to find the words to express my gratitude and heartbreak over this.”
“We never know what's going on in someone else's life. May he and his family find peace and be given privacy,” she wrote.
Virgin Media reporter Zara King said she would “like to wish Dr Tony Holohan & his family well.”
“None of us know what anyone else is going through. He remained a constant presence during this very difficult time for the country, answering questions from reporters every evening.”
“Unbelievably tragic news, thank you for all you have done to keep the rest of us safe throughout this crisis,” wrote barrister and Irish Independent columnist Colette Browne.
Unbelievably tragic news, thank you for all you have done to keep the rest of us safe throughout this crisis.— Colette Browne (@colettebrowne) July 2, 2020
Last night, Taoiseach Micheal Martin also thanked the CMO.
“His work, experience and briefings helped people to understand the gravity of the situation facing us, while his calmness reassured us that if we followed the guidelines and advice we would overcome these great challenges together.
“Every home in Ireland has come to know Dr. Tony Holohan. His leadership during the pandemic has given us all confidence that the decisions being made are based on solid public health advice. As a country we owe him and his family a great debt of gratitude”.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar also expressed his gratitude:
“Thank you Tony. For months everyone in Ireland has felt safe because you were looking after our families. As you step back, know that all of us stand behind you and your wonderful family. We’ll meet again soon.”
Thank you Tony. For months everyone in Ireland has felt safe because you were looking after our families. As you step back, know that all of us stand behind you and your wonderful family. Weâll meet again soon https://t.co/2a1FTkDVNI— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) July 2, 2020
Presenter Muireann O’Connell sent her “best wishes”.
“Tony was in front of us, almost everyday, giving us the morbid & truly horrible news of how many people had died, patiently answering questions and managing to be a bit of craic & he had all this going on at home. Sending best wishes to his wife Emer & their family,” she wrote.