Ryan Tubridy opened his 'Late Late Show' interview saying: "You've got to be the busiest man in Ireland these days."
Dr Tony Holohan had indeed had a busy day and the shockwaves are still being felt within the management of the coronavirus.
On the morning of Friday, April 17, Holohan, the chief medical officer, had chaired a well-attended meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) in the Department of Health on Baggot Street. Nphet decided the HSE needed to ramp up its testing capacity to 100,000 tests analysed a week.
Easier said than done.
That afternoon, Holohan attended a meeting in Government Buildings, called by Department of Taoiseach secretary general Martin Fraser. HSE chief executive Paul Reid and Department of Health chief executive Jim Breslin also attended. The decision from that meeting was that the Department of Health would confirm the position on the capacity for testing and contact tracing and the health service capacity the following Friday, April 24.
A plan was coming together.
Back at the Department of Health that evening at 5.30pm, Holohan hosted a press conference where he announced the Nphet decision "to expand testing capacity to 100,000 tests per week operating on a seven-day week basis for a minimum of six months".
Reid called Breslin to discuss the public announcement which had caught him by surprise. Referring back to his afternoon meeting, Reid would later note: "There was no mention at this meeting of the directions that were to issue from the Nphet that evening."
Holohan followed the press conference with a letter sent at 8.50pm to Reid, directing the HSE to ramp up to the 100,000 tests mark.
The instruction followed the announcement.
And then it was off to the 'Late Late Show'.
A busy day, indeed.
Aside from being caught off-guard, Reid felt the HSE was being bounced into carrying out the 100,000 tests ASAP.
"The directions set out effectively attempted to commit the HSE to an intensity of implementation which bears absolutely no resemblance to that which we previously discussed and has taken no account of what can be achieved by when," he wrote in his now infamous letter complaining about Holohan and Nphet.
Reid argued Holohan's actions were "at odds" with the rules agreed with the Government. To varying different degrees Holohan has appeared to be 'at odds' with the Government on several occasions.
The dissenting doctor's bedside manner with the fragile egos and relationships in Government is ruffling feathers.
This week, Holohan's second opinion on the reopening of schools certainly appeared to differ from the prognosis of Dr Leo Varadkar. On foot of advice from the WHO and a report from Hiqa saying children were at least risk from the virus and do not appear to be super spreaders, the Taoiseach said reopening schools and childcare was "among the safest things that we can do".
As doctors do, Holohan differed, saying only a small number of studies had looked at the issue and it was "an entirely different thing to conclude in policy terms that we have enough evidence to say that transmission from children does not occur".
Labour Party leader Alan Kelly told the Taoiseach it was "pretty embarrassing".
"Those comments were subsequently shut down by the chief medical officer.
"For the public to hear one message coming from the Taoiseach and, a couple of hours later, to hear the opposite message coming from the CMO is not good," he said.
However, it's not the first time Holohan has displayed his independence. While the Government flailed about on the Keelings migrant workers issue, Holohan criticised it straight out, prompting a U-turn from Varadkar. He has also expressed his views on the unfurling of restrictions, to the annoyance of Cabinet ministers, although he denies any clashes or that his advice has sometimes been ignored.
Whatever about differences with the HSE, he is treading on toes in Government Buildings. Fraser, the Department of the Taoiseach secretary general, is the most powerful civil servant in the country. When he puts a plan in place it's expected everyone toes the line, so there was some surprise at Holohan's solo run on the celebrated 100,000 tests.
"He doesn't read the tea leaves very well. He could be more diplomatic. He's as wily as f**k. He's not stupid," a Government source said.
Parallels are also being drawn with his handling of the cervical cancer controversy, where a more delicate touch was needed. Aside from the shambles of the affair itself, Holohan co-chairs the CervicalCheck Steering Committee, from which patient representative Lorraine Walsh resigned.
However, Holohan does appear to have retained public trust as the doctor who knows best. The argument in his favour is that in a crisis he's right to cut through the bureaucracy. He got the desired result on testing.
Varadkar and Harris have both mused about opening schools without getting anywhere. Varadkar also made false promises that the Leaving Cert would happen "by hook or by crook" and a childcare scheme for frontline workers would be set up.
Holohan's daily briefings mean he is an ever-present of the crisis. The ubiquitous Harris never seems to have an unspoken thought. However, he lacks the gravitas and his grasp of the medical detail has been found out. Holohan's reputation for straight-talking is reminiscent of Varadkar's own political rise. His defensive skills will be tested next week when he appears before the special Dáil committee on the Covid-19 response.