Government to start looking for national science adviser soon

3 Aug 2023

Minister Simon Harris, TD, at Inspirefest 2018. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

Minister Simon Harris said that the role of a chief science adviser will ensure key policy decisions in Ireland are informed by ‘quality science advice’.

The Irish Government has given approval for the appointment of a new science adviser to inform “complex and challenging” policy decisions made in the country.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, said today (3 August) that it is “absolutely essential” for the Government to be guided by the “best evidence available” when addressing key challenges such as the climate crisis and pandemics.

“The role of the Government chief science adviser will be fundamental in ensuring Government policy decisions are informed by quality science advice,” said Harris.

First announced earlier this year, the appointment of a chief science adviser is part of a broader science advice structure being created that will assist the Government in making key policy decisions that need technical input, such as AI, cybersecurity and other emerging technologies.

The science adviser will chair the national science advice forum, which will provide advice to the Government as it forms policy on the sector. The forum’s members will have experience in policy making as well as in the science-related sectors.

“It is coming at a time in our history when science, innovation and technology have never been more important,” Harris said earlier this year. “Science can drive job creation, grow the economy, help us tackle significant societal challenges and ensure Ireland is at the cutting-edge of new technologies and industries.”

The selection process for the Government science adviser will take place through the top level appointments committee, which will allow participation from suitable candidates with an internationally recognised scientific background along with strong leadership and experience.

The position is expected to be advertised by the public appointment service soon and the individual will be based in Harris’s department, appointed to an assistant secretary position.

“I am looking forward to this process of selection beginning and for the appointment of the right person to identify and provide science advice on complex challenges and focus on long-term development to enhance science advice to all Government departments,” Harris added.

In May of last year, the Government announced the launch of a national enterprise forum to support digital and AI strategies. The forum has 16 members from various tech and entrepreneurship communities.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic