“The Government’s deliberate attempt to allow political interference in the awarding of funding under a new Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is simply the abandonment of a core principal that has underpinned Ireland’s growth as a research and technology hub,” says Fianna Fáil’s Business, Enterprise and Innovation Spokesperson, Billy Kelleher TD.

“For the first time in 21 years, Government Ministers and their officials will, for all intents and purposes, have a veto on which projects will be awarded funding. While experts may review applications, it will be Ministers and officials who will decide on who will be successful or not.

“This is a clear and wilful attempt by this Government to award themselves with more power and influence in what has been a historically politically independent process.

“This Fund’s impact is also being overstated. Just 10% of the fund will be expended by the time this Government goes to the people.

“The regressive nature of this announcement is also deeply disappointing. The requirement for projects to have 25% match-funding will exclude some of the poorest local authority areas where there are competing needs but limited local funding.

“We need to fund projects that allow Irish stakeholders deal with technologies that may prove disruptive. However, allowing Government Ministers to decide who gets the funding is counter-intuitive. Experts with the knowledge to decide between two or three competing projects should be making the final decision, not a Minister or their officials,” concluded Kelleher.