IRELAND'S CHIEF Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, has announced he is stepping back from the position in order to spend more time with his family.
In an emotional statement issued yesterday evening, Dr Holohan said that his wife, Dr Emer Feely, who was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2012, has recently been admitted for palliative care.
"She has had a number of difficult years with her disease and was admitted for palliative care last Saturday,” he said at yesterday's press briefing by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).
“From now on I want to give my energy, attention and all of my time to Emer and to our two teenage children, Clodagh and Ronan.”
From today, I will be taking time out from all of my work commitments to be with my family.
I would like to thank everyone for their support, understanding and respect for my family’s privacy and would wish that to continue.
Continue to stay vigilant and look after each other. pic.twitter.com/aNfi88c1Jo
— Dr Tony Holohan (@CMOIreland) July 2, 2020
Dr Holohan has become the face of Ireland's fight against Covid-19, having made almost daily appearances on national television to provide updates and advice since the pandemic began.
“As a husband and father, and as a public health doctor, I am conscious that we have been through tough times together over the last number of months and many families across the country have been affected by the course of Covid-19, suffering pain and the loss of loved ones,” Dr Holohan continued.
“I hope that we can all remain working together to continue to stay vigilant.”
Other members of the NPHET will begin to take over Dr Holohan's role, and Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the HSE, Dr Ronan Glynn, has been made Acting CMO.
Dr Holohan thanked the public for their "ongoing support, understanding and respect for [his] family's privacy" and asked that it continue.
Tributes for Dr Tony Holohan's work as Chief Medical Officer, which many people drew solace from during some of the pandemic's most difficult times, have come flooding in, with former Health Minister Simon Harris calling him "a patriot, an incredible public servant and a doctor who has saved thousands of lives through his leadership".
Tony Holohan is a patriot, an incredible public servant & a doctor who has saved thousands of lives through his leadership. He has kept us safe. I valued his counsel as Minister so much. Thank you to his family for sharing him with us. We think of them & respect their privacy
— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) July 2, 2020
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar thanked Dr Holohan for his service and said, "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."
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said:
"I would like to thank Dr Holohan on behalf of myself and the people of Ireland for helping to guide this country through the Covid-19 emergency.
"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 health advice.
"As a country we owe him and his family a great debt of gratitude."