The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann champions research. We identify and recognise Ireland’s world class researchers. We support scholarship and promote awareness of how science and the humanities enrich our lives and benefit society. We believe that good research needs to be promoted, sustained and communicated. The Academy is run by a Council of its members. Membership is by election and considered the highest academic honour in Ireland.

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Launch of the Celtic Academies Alliance

25 March 2021


PDF icon Explainer: Celtic Academies Alliance

The National Academies of Scotland, Wales and the island of Ireland join forces to launch the Celtic Academies Alliance. 

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), the Learned Society of Wales (LSW) and the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) have today (25th March) launched the Celtic Academies Alliance. 

The aims of the Alliance are:  

  • To make available independent expert advice on higher education and research matters and on other shared key issues; 
  • Support the evolution of more effective intra-UK and UK–Ireland governance, especially in the post-Brexit context; and 
  • Work to ensure that the UK Government and its bodies take proper account of the needs and differing situations of the devolved nations, supporting communication and collaboration between the different levels of government. 

The Alliance will enable the RSE, LSW and RIA to pool the wide-ranging expertise and practitioner experience that exists within their memberships to inform public policy developments at both the UK level and within the devolved nations.  

The establishment of the Alliance comes at a critical time as the higher education and research sectors deal with the major twin challenges of Covid-19 and Brexit. It also presents significant opportunity with the UK Government developing a new R&D strategy for the UK, including commitments to ‘levelling up’ investment across the whole of the UK and with plans emerging for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. 

Professor Dame Anne Glover, RSE President, said: “The establishment of the Celtic Academies Alliance is a significant development. Our national academies are uniquely placed to draw upon our extensive and multidisciplinary expertise, experience and networks to help inform and shape policy developments at all government levels. It is vital that policymaking at the UK level takes account of the distinctive priorities and needs of the devolved nations, and the Alliance can play its part in supporting this process.”

Dr Mary Canning, RIA President, commented: “A great strength of the three academies is that they span the full range of academic disciplines within their respective fellowships. This, together with their independence and convening power, makes them invaluable in analysing the many complex issues which underpin and permeate scientific, economic, social and cultural development. The Celtic Academies Alliance will act as a catalyst for enhanced and synergistic academic and research collaborations between the nations for the mutual benefit of all.”

Professor Hywel Thomas, LSW President, remarked: “The Celtic Academies Alliance is an opportunity to further develop and amplify the voices of the research and innovation communities of Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. We will work together to understand what is needed to build research capacity, productivity, and impact in the devolved nations, recognising regional variation within the nations themselves. We hope to contribute constructively to the discussions around levelling up research, development and innovation funding.”

The Alliance has been informally active for the past year and has conducted the following activities:

  • Submissions and responses to government initiatives and consultations, e.g. letter to the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the implementation of the UK Research and Development Roadmap; 
  • Roundtables on research and development in the devolved nations; 
  • Explainer notes, e.g. The European Structural and Investment Funds: contribution to UK research and innovation (with the British Academy). 

Please read the explainer for further information on the Alliance or contact if you have any queries. 

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