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*Dr Tony Holohan. Photograph: Joe Buckley

CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, Dr Tony Holohan refused to take questions from the media during his visit to Clare this week.

Dr Holohan launched a book of poetry compiled by third class pupils of Scoil na Maighdine Mhuire in Newmarket-on-Fergus on Tuesday afternoon.

With less than two weeks left until Holohan steps down from his role in the Department of Health as CMO, he was insistent that he would not be engaging in any interviews with the press while in Co Clare. It was the longest day of the year but he could spare no time to field some questions from representatives of the media including RTÉ Radio, TG4, Clare FM and The Clare Echo.

Regarded as the main decision in the country throughout the pandemic, which included three lockdowns, the first of which was the longest in Europe, Holohan was appointed as Deputy Chief Medical Officer in 2001, before taking over as Chief Medical Officer in December 2008.

He served as the chairperson of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), which provided advice to the Government in relation to the pandemic. During 2020 and 2021, the country had one of the world’s lowest excess death rates, which is an overall indicator of the pandemic’s impact, at an estimated 12.5 deaths per 100,000 population

Initially organisers of the launch within the school had said media opportunities with Dr Holohan would be possible. However by the time he arrived in Newmarket-on-Fergus, staff had been informed that the UCD graduate would not be speaking to the media.

When approached by The Clare Echo, Dr Holohan said he would not be doing “any media”. He refuted a query on whether this stance followed the controversy surrounding his proposed secondment to Trinity College Dublin.

Holohan did engage in a Q&A session where questions were put together on third class pupils and questioned if he had a pet during his childhood, his sporting interests, how COVID became so dangerous, previous pandemics, how he felt during the pandemic, sourcing advice and lessons to put in practice should there be a repeat.

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