Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Research and Development James Lawless TD has criticised the Government for abandoning its own research and development targets.

The Government’s Innovation 2020 programme commits to a goal of 2.5% of GDP funding for research and development by 2020. However, speaking in the Dáil last week the Taoiseach confirmed that this target will not be met.

Deputy Lawless said, “Growing the research and development sector is vital for securing economic prosperity in Ireland in the years ahead. This is more important now than ever before considering the enormous challenges that Ireland faces post-Brexit. We must be realistic about where gaps exist in our research and development sector and commit the necessary resources to help close them.

Deputy Lawless said, “The Government published a five strategy in 2015 which set out an ambitious roadmap for the research and development sector. The Innovation 2020 document commits to a goal of 2.5% of GDP funding for research and development by 2020. The document recognises that this will bring Ireland in line with other countries which have a strong innovation sector.

“However the latest information made available to me shows that we are on course to miss this target by a wide margin. To date just 1.42% of GDP is going towards growing the research and development sector. This falls well below what is needed to ensure that Ireland is well positioned to benefit from new industries in the years ahead, particularly as we attempt to overcome the challenges associated with Brexit.

“I recently questioned the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil on this issue to determine what course of action he will take to ensure he meets the target set out in his own Innovation 2020 document. I was shocked by the reply that the Taoiseach gave me as he simply cast the issue aside and confirmed that his Government will no longer meet its own target.

“This does not bode well for the research and development sector and clearly highlights that this issue is falling down the Government agenda. The Taoiseach needs to realise that increasing the resources available to the research and development sector will help tackle the many challenges facing our society, including in the areas of housing and health,” concluded Deputy Lawless.