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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Chief Scientific Advisor needs to be independent

29 September 2021

Ireland’s chief scientific adviser needs to be an independent office and not linked to the post of Director General of Science Foundation Ireland says Mary Canning, President of the Royal Irish Academy.

During the summer the post of Director General of Science Foundation Ireland was advertised, indicating that the government may appoint the new Director General as the Chief Scientific Advisor as well.

Dr Canning said,  

from climate change to cyber-security, poverty to pandemics, food technologies to artificial intelligence, the questions asked of scientists continue to multiply. The COVID-19 pandemic shows that public confidence in the independence and authoritativeness of the evidence and science used in decision-making is vital to ensuring public trust in policy decisions.

It is the view of the Royal Irish Academy, Ireland‘s leading academic body,

that the role of Chief Scientific Advisor should not be combined with any other role, particularly that of the head of a national research funder as is currently the case. This is to protect the role’s independence, to avoid the appearance of prioritising some areas of science over others and to avoid any appearance of being a lobbyist for research funding.

The Academy believes that this separation of responsibilities would allow the post holder to fully commit his/her time and attention to the demanding role of building capacity, identifying the policy issues on which research engagement would be of significant assistance, and supporting the brokering of meaningful long-term and trusted relationships and connections between the research and policy communities.

Science advice is an important strand of the Royal Irish Academy’s work and you can find out more here

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