Seanad calls for Ireland to become a member of CERN

15 Dec 2022

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Image: © diegograndi/

The Seanad’s call has been welcomed by the Institute of Physics, which said CERN membership would bring job creation, investment and training opportunities to Ireland.

Ireland’s Seanad has passed a motion calling on the Government to join CERN, the organisation behind the Large Hadron Collider.

CERN, or the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, is one of the biggest scientific research centres in the world, bringing together around 18,000 researchers. However, Ireland is one of three EU countries that is not a member.

The Seanad passed the motion today (15 December) for Ireland to seek membership with the organisation. The motion also calls on the Government to engage with CERN to develop a strategy to support Ireland’s membership.

The decision has been welcomed by the Institute of Physics (IOP), a professional body for physics in Ireland and the UK.

The organisation said associate membership with CERN would increase job opportunities for Ireland and would cost roughly €1.46m, 10pc of full membership costs.

Membership with CERN would allow Irish citizens apply for jobs with the research centre, while Irish academics could apply for CERN research projects. It would also let companies in Ireland bid for contracts with the research centre.

“It is absolutely critical that Ireland joins this leading organisation, as it will result in a number of vital benefits including job creation, investment and training opportunities,” said head of IOP Ireland and Northern Ireland Lee Reynolds.

“It is fantastic to see intentions at ministerial level to join CERN but, as called for today by the Seanad, we need a plan in place to ensure Ireland can both contribute to and gain from membership.”

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris, TD, recently said that his department will prepare a submission for Government to consider joining CERN.

“The costs of joining CERN are significant but so too are the benefits,” he told the Dáil last month.

There have been discussions about Ireland becoming a member of CERN for years, but costs have long been cited as an issue. Full membership for Ireland would cost around €13.5m annually, along with a once-off €16.8m payment that can be spread out over 10 years.

CERN received a letter from the Irish Government in 2016 expressing an interest in joining. But in December 2017, Ireland said it would not join due to financial constraints.

In November 2019, an Oireachtas Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation recommended immediate plans for CERN membership.

In September, a group of Irish researchers and university representatives reignited a push for Ireland to join CERN. Speaking at an event in Trinity College Dublin, Prof Sinead Ryan noted that there would be no obligation to go beyond associate membership, allowing Ireland to scale the investment up or down as needed.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic