Leo Varadkar link to US firm employing HSE boss

The chair of a US firm which has hired outgoing HSE boss Tony O’Brien held a significant political fundraiser for Leo Varadkar.

It was confirmed yesterday that HSE director general Tony O’Brien is working part-time for a US contraceptive firm while still running the health service.

He will leave the HSE in August.

Thomas Lynch, the chair of Evofem Biosciences, is also chair of the Mater Hospital in Dublin and Ireland East Hospital Group, the country’s largest hospital group.

Mr Varadkar confirmed to the Dáil that Mr Lynch had organised a fundraiser for him which, it is understood, was held just days before he was nominated as Taoiseach last year.

The Taoiseach was asked whether there was a “conflict of interest” with Mr O’Brien working for the US firm while also running the health service here.

Some Opposition TDs have called for Mr O’Brien to resign in the wake of the cervical cancer misdiagnosis scandal and the HSE’s failure to communicate with women.

Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin said: “Does the Taoiseach appreciate that potential conflict of interest? I do not know why Mr O’Brien was facilitated in taking a place on that board. Mr Lynch is chair of the Mater Hospital and the Ireland East Hospital Group and will be putting forward projects for the benefit of the Mater Hospital and possibly other hospitals.”

Mr Martin claimed the health minister had made a grave error in allowing Mr O’Brien to join the US firm. But Mr Varadkar denied this and said Mr O’Brien’s HSE contract allowed him to serve on boards if there was no conflict of interest.

He said the work Mr O’Brien is doing for the US firm is “five hours per month” and in his own time.

The Taoiseach also confirmed that Mr Lynch held a fundraiser for him, adding: “I know Thomas Lynch. He would be well known to many people in business circles.”

Mr Lynch also served as a member of the expert group on resource allocation in the health service which reported in 2010 and recommended the development of hospital trusts.



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