Scientists protest ‘short-sighted’ policy

Science in the Republic of Ireland is being destroyed by a “scientific apartheid” that reserves most competitive research funding for 14 priority areas largely chosen for commercial reasons. That is the view of Professor Seamus Martin from Trinity College Dublin, writes Paul Jump for Times Higher Education.

Martin Smurfit, professor of medical genetics at Trinity College Dublin, was one of the organisers of a letter published in The Irish Times last month, signed by more than 900 scientists, calling on the Irish government to end its “short-sighted” policy and restore support for basic research “across the full range of scientific disciplines”.

The 14 priority areas were identified in 2012 by a panel led by Jim O’Hara, former general manager of Intel Ireland, in the wake of the economic crisis into which the previously booming country was plunged by the global downturn. According to a spokeswoman for the Irish government’s Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the priority areas were selected on the basis of existing strengths in Irish research and enterprise, potential opportunities for Ireland in “the global marketplace” and the likelihood that investment would “deliver economic and societal impact and employment”.
Full report on the Times Higher Education site