The Secretary General of the Irish Pharmacy Union, Mr Darragh O’Loughlin, has announced he will step down from his role in the organisation to engage in new business interests in April 2022. IPU President Mr Dermot Twomey led tributes to Mr O’Loughlin following his announcement. “Throughout his tenure as Secretary General, Darragh O’Loughlin has led the Irish Pharmacy Union with distinction and this is most particularly the case over the past two years of the pandemic crisis, where he exercised all of his zeal and energy tirelessly and unstintingly on behalf of all of our members.

“The Executive Committee and membership of the Union will join with me in expressing our warmest possible appreciation to Darragh. He has been a trusted advocate and advisor across all of our strategies and policies, executing the wishes of the members, while advancing the status and essential role of the community pharmacy profession in the provision of world-class services in Ireland. The successes achieved, such as the roll-out of influenza vaccination and emergency contraception services, were ground-breaking, not only in an Irish but also in an international context and were introduced with new and fair fees that recognised pharmacists’ professional input. In the lead-up to the 2020 budget, Darragh also led a successful fight against proposed cuts of up to €80 million to the fees earned in community pharmacy for administering Government schemes.

“More recently, Darragh fought to ensure that community pharmacists were in a position to play a pivotal role in the fight against Covid-19. Pharmacists are now regarded as the most trusted and accessible of the health professions. Darragh did not achieve these successes on his own, but through his leadership of the excellent staff of the IPU, from whom he earned and maintains great collegial respect.”

Mr O’Loughlin commented: “I have always been very proud to be a pharmacist and it has been an honour and a privilege to have led the IPU and served the profession of pharmacy during a period of great change; to have seen such progress in the professional role of pharmacists, and to have overcome often considerable challenges for the profession.

“In my time as Secretary General, the role and the importance of community pharmacists and their teams in people’s lives have expanded greatly, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, and it has been gratifying to see that reflected in the extraordinarily high esteem and affection which the public has for community pharmacy and our increased awareness and respect from Government and policy-makers.

“I have been privileged to have worked with some truly excellent people on IPU committees, and all of my management colleagues and staff, and to have served alongside five IPU Presidents, who all demonstrated vision, integrity and a determination to do their best for community pharmacy. In the same way that pharmacists are always there for their patients and communities, often in very adverse circumstances, I’m proud that the IPU has always been there for our members. I wish the IPU well and look forward to its continued success advocating for pharmacists and patients in the future, as I will also continue to do throughout my future career.”