Amid the ongoing CervicalCheck Scandal the HSE’s Director General is to take a leave of absence from the board of the US medical company he joined earlier this year.
He had taken up a role with the Evofem Biosciences with the consent of the Health Minister Simon Harris.
The Tánaiste today confirmed Mr O’Brien – who is due to leave his role as HSE chief this summer – will take a temporary break from the contraceptives manufacturer to focus on the Cervical Check scandal.
Simon Coveney said Mr O’Brien will temporarily step away from “any involvement outside the HSE”. The Tánaiste observed: “Tony O’Brien can be of most use to the women of Ireland in terms of establishing facts here if he focuses fully in trying to assist in the process the Government is trying to put together.”
However, Sinn Féin has claimed that the leave of absence does not go far enough. Pearse Doherty argued: “People have died without the information that they were entitled to. Somebody – and that person at the head of the organisation which denied them that information – has to be held to account.”
People Before Profit TD Brid Smith, meanwhile, questioned Simon Harris’ will to hold anyone to account for the controversy. She said: “I really plead with you to discipline the people who failed to tell you, or else you should resign – it is not credible that you can stand over a situation like that.”
The Government is still examining how to best carry out an investigation into the Cervical Check controversy. Vicky Phelan, the woman who exposed the scandal has, has called for an ‘urgent, prompt and public’ Commission of Investigation.