Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Science, Technology, Research and Development James Lawless TD has expressed disappointment that the Government is not pursuing membership of CERN at this time, but has welcomed the fact that his call for for progress of Ireland’s membership of the European Space Observatory (ESO) has been partially answered in Budget 2018.

Deputy Lawless has been calling for the membership of for both organisations given the enormous benefits and opportunities that they would open up to Ireland’s research and developments sector.

Deputy Lawless said, “I welcome the commitment made in Budget 2018 regarding Ireland becoming a member of the ESO. Membership offers enormous benefits for Ireland’s research and development sector. From meeting with stakeholders I understand we are very favourably positioned by virtue of the relative size of our astronomical community across our third level institutions.

“Ireland’s opportunity to join the ESO is being heavily supported by industry leaders in the technology sector and there are significant opportunities available in securing commercial contracts which are available as a result of membership of the organisation.

“It remains disappointing however that membership of CERN has not advanced in this budget. This is despite various positive noises being made from Fine Gael figures over the summer months, which now emerge to be hot air. We need to be at all these tables in order to yield real investment, academic and commercial, from the opportunities within Europe. Membership of these organisations will also help to stem the flow of researchers abroad as we continue to risk a ‘brain drain’ of talent.

“The Government must now set out a detailed timeline for the commencement of their ESO membership application,” concluded Deputy Lawless.