Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Science, Technology, Research and Development, James Lawless TD, has expressed his disappointment at the fact that the Government do not recognise any crisis in the research sector.
Deputy Lawless was questioning Minister of State John Halligan in Dáil Éireann and said that the deliberate side-lining of basic research by this Government has led to a situation where Ireland is becoming uncompetitive when it comes to research.
He explained, “Last week saw the announcement of the prestigious European Research Council grants in recognition of basic research and applied research across Europe. Unfortunately for a country that has punched above its weight in previous years, on this occasion, Ireland received only one of more than 400 such grants awarded.
“We have also recently learned that Irish University rankings are continuing to tumble down the world rankings and it’s very obvious that there is a serious problem. People such as Professor Brian MacCraith of the Irish Universities Association have been to the fore, saying that the research sector is now in crisis.
“Instead of listening to these warnings, Minister Halligan told me ‘It is incorrect to say that Ireland’s research is in crisis. It is anything but in crisis’. How he can say this, when all evidence points to the contrary is beyond me?
“The Government aren’t close to meeting their own target of spending 2.5% of GDP on R&D which was set out in Horizon 2020 and yet the Minister is still using Horizon 2020 to justify the Government’s approach to R&D”, he concluded.