Science think tank holds inaugural meeting

17 Feb 2005

A new Cabinet sub-committee on Science, Technology and Innovation held its first meeting in Dublin today.

The formation of the committee is seen as an important step in the implementation of a united government approach to the key issues of science, technology and innovation and to the advancement of the research and development agenda.

The group is chaired by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin TD, who commented, “The establishment of this Cabinet sub-committee demonstrates our commitment to engage fully in whole-of-government approaches to key issues. Real synergies exist in this area and the approach now being pursued will ensure that they are captured.”

Stressing the need to develop rapid, structured responses to the ever-changing global economic environment, the minister signalled his intention develop a strategic implementation plan that would secure Ireland’s technological and economic future.

Education Minister Mary Hanafin TD has meanwhile announced that €750k is to be made available to support the International BA Festival of Science, which will come to Dublin this year. The festival, hosted by Trinity College Dublin from 3 September, will consist of an academic programme, a schools programme and other events throughout the city. The aim is to further raise awareness of science among young people and the public generally. The funding supplements that provided by the Discover Science and Engineering Awareness Programme, the Higher Education Authority and Science Foundation Ireland.

After the meeting the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern TD, Tanáiste Mary Harney TD, Minister Martin and colleagues gathered at the statue of one of Ireland’s greatest scientists, William Rowan Hamilton, to launch an event, Science 2005: Celebrating Past, Present and Future to mark Hamilton Year.

Launching Hamilton Year before the Cabinet sub-committee meeting the Taoiseach said: “Ireland’s future is dependent on establishing a globally competitive knowledge-based economy. The Hamilton Year gives us a great opportunity to showcase science and its importance to socio-economic development. Hamilton’s work had a direct impact on putting man into space, with all the associated global economic spin-offs. I hope that this year many will connect with science via the commemorative events to be held. With good luck, we may even encourage another Hamilton and capitalise on his or her work.”

The aim of the celebrations is to draw attention to Ireland’s proud scientific heritage and to create awareness of the exciting world-class science, which is being undertaken in Ireland today and will be in the future. The venture is a collaborative project between Discover Science and Engineering, the Institute of Physics and the Royal Irish Academy.

By Brian Skelly