Tributes have been paid to the Department of Health's chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, who has stepped down from the position to spend more time with his family.
In a statement, Dr Holohan said that from July 2, he would be taking time out from all of his work commitments to be with his family.
"My wife, Emer, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer, in 2012. She has had a number of difficult years with her disease and was admitted for palliative care last Saturday. I now want to give my energy, attention and all my time to Emer and to our two teenage children, Clodagh and Ronan," he said.
Dr Holohan said that a plan has been put in place for others to take over his responsibilities and a statement on this will be issued by the Department of Health in due course.
In the meantime, deputy chief medical officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, has been appointed acting chief medical officer. He has worked alongside Dr Holohan throughout the pandemic and will chair COVID-related press conferences from now on.
"As a husband and father, and as a public health doctor, I'm conscious that we have been put 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 loss of loved ones.
"I hope we can all remain working together to continue to stay vigilant, keep our social distance, and take personal responsibility for our own health, in the first instance, as well as looking after our family members and friends and those we care about most," Dr Holohan said.
He thanked everyone for their ongoing support, understanding and respect for his family's privacy, and asked that this continue.
Responding to the news, the former Minister for Health, Simon Harris, who had worked closely with Dr Holohan throughout the pandemic, described him as a "patriot, and incredible public servant and doctor, who has saved thousands of lives through his leadership".
Former Taoiseach and current Tanaiste, Leo Varadkar, also expressed his thanks to Dr Holohan.
"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," he said.
Newly elected Taoiseach, Micheal Martin, and current Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, also expressed their thanks to Dr Holohan for his work during the last few months, as did numerous other politicians, healthcare organisations and members of the public.
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