Ireland moving close to CERN membership, says Heuer

23 Jun 2014

The CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

Ireland is getting closer to joining Europe’s leading scientific research body CERN after recent meetings between the Government and CERN’s director-general Prof Rolf Dieter Heuer are said to have made significant progress.

Speaking to RTÉ at the recent Euroscience Open Forum in Copenhagen, Heuer confirmed that Minister of State for Research Sean Sherlock, TD, had visited the enormous particle physics laboratory in Switzerland as part of the on-going discussions about Ireland becoming the 22nd European member state to enter the organisation. Ireland is the only western European nation yet to sign up to CERN.

The decision to join CERN is considered a necessary step by those in Ireland involved in the highest levels of physics, not just for scientific reasons but also for the potential commercial benefits, much like Ireland’s membership in the European Space Agency (ESA) has brought.

Heuer went on to say that during Sherlock’s visit they discussed these potential commercial opportunities, along with the chance to engage in engineering and technology transfers between members. Heuer also welcomed the appeal from students for Ireland to join CERN for the benefit of their future research.

It will now be up to the Irish Government and the taskforce Sherlock has established to look into the feasibility of membership and determine whether Ireland should join CERN.

CERN is more commonly known for its work with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the largest particle accelerator in the world at 27km in length and spanning the France-Switzerland border.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic