Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Science and Technology James Lawless TD has welcomed the completion of Ireland’s membership application to the European Space Observatory (ESO).

Deputy Lawless said, “Ireland’s membership of the ESO is an important step forward for our country.  ESO membership offers enormous benefits and opportunities for our research and development sector. Membership will give Irish scientists an opportunity to build on Ireland’s proud history as a leader in the field since the 1840’s.

“This is a project I had advocated hard for since attending the switch on of the telescope in Birr observatory last summer, and being so impressed with the LOFAR project. I joined many industry and academic voices in pitching the benefits of this project to the Government and the Department.

“It’s important to recognise those that have advocated membership of the ESO for many years, including Mr Joe Hogan and Dr Peter Gallagher. Mr Hogan brought invaluable business expertise to the application process and made a strong business case for our membership. Dr Gallagher was also instrumental in making the case for ESO membership and he explained to me and many others the many benefits that would flow from our membership.

“Membership of the ESO will also help to stem the flow of researchers abroad as we continue to risk a ‘brain drain’ of talent. Today is a positive day for Ireland, and the attention must now turn towards ensuring Ireland becomes a full member of CERN.”