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Appointment of Professor Breda Smyth as Interim Chief Medical Officer

The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has announced that Professor Breda Smyth will take up a role as interim Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health from 4 July, pending the completion of the competition to fill the role on a permanent basis.

Dr Tony Holohan will resign as CMO on 1 July after 14 years in the role.

Professor Smyth has extensive clinical experience and has specialised in public health for the last 16 years. She is currently Professor for Public Health Medicine in NUI Galway and Consultant in Public Health in HSE West.

Professor Smyth contributed significantly to Ireland’s COVID-19 response having been a member of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), the Rapid Testing Expert Advisory Group; Chief Investigator on the multi-site study UniCoV study as well as her important duties as the Director of Public Health in HSE West. Prof Smyth was also a founding member of the COVID-19 – Irish Epidemiology Modelling Advisory Group (IEMAG).

Minister Donnelly said, “while the open competition for the permanent filling of the crucial role of Chief Medical Officer has commenced, I am conscious of the need to have in place the required leadership at all times to continue to monitor and combat COVID-19 and other public health threats.”

“Professor Smith has a unique skill set with the requisite mix of academic, policy and frontline experience having provided leadership, expert and professional guidance of Public Health nationally and in HSE West over the last number of years. She has contributed significantly to the national response to COVID-19 in her many roles throughout the management of the pandemic.”

“Professor Smyth brings this considerable experience, excellent leadership ability and extensive public health skillset to the role and I very much look forward to working with her. I thank Professor Smyth for agreeing to fill the role on an interim basis until the completion of an open competition for a permanent CMO.”

Professor Smyth said, “I am excited to have the opportunity to work together with colleagues in the Department of Health, and across our health and social care service to build on the considerable work done, both before and during COVID-19, to promote and protect public health and the health and wellbeing of the population of Ireland.”

“The pandemic has placed a spotlight on public health, and I look forward to the opportunity to advance the public health agenda through important, cross-government initiatives like Healthy Ireland and Sláintecare to improve the health and wellbeing of the entire population including marginalised groups and continuing to address inequities in health.”


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