“Ireland’s forthcoming membership of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, will not only provide new opportunities for Irish researchers but also challenge the underlying ethos of research,” says Denis Naughten TD.
Minister Simon Harris is set today to propose a government investment of €2 million annually into CERN’s research initiatives.
Denis Naughten pointed out that “this funding predominantly supports exploratory, or ‘blue sky’, research, an area where venturing into the unknown is essential and where failure is a critical component of the learning process. It’s noteworthy that a mere 2% of investments in this type of science and technology research typically yield results”.
“This move marks a significant departure from Ireland’s traditional approach to funding scientific research, which has been primarily results-driven, with a strong emphasis on generating tangible outcomes like job creation”.
“The involvement of Ireland in CERN is poised to reshape the perspective of Irish policymakers towards scientific research, recognising it as an incremental journey of discovery, where today’s efforts may only bear fruit decades later”.
“Participation in CERN offers Irish researchers, especially young researchers, an opportunity to hone a unique set of problem-solving skills, training people to solve problems that we never knew existed up to this point. These skills are not only academically valuable but also crucial for addressing global challenges, from climate change to geopolitical tensions”.
“Moreover, Ireland’s engagement with CERN extends beyond scientific advancement. It can also contribute to the organization’s founding principle of fostering cooperation between people in conflict” said Denis Naughten who chairs a global committee of Members of Parliament on science and technology.
He explained “drawing from Ireland’s experience in the peace process, where science has served as a neutral ground for building new relationships, there is potential for CERN, in collaboration with Irish scientists, to apply its problem-solving ethos to the realm of peacebuilding”.
“In Ireland, we have leveraged science not only at policy and political level but at the citizen level, to first identify challenges and then agree to a roadmap to address such challenges. This approach has been instrumental in fostering new relationships across our island, utilising science as a neutral ground for building bridges of understanding and tolerance”.
“My personal experiences as a Minister, particularly in environmental policy, have shown that science transcends borders and beliefs, uniting us in our shared human experience, because regardless of where we live or worship, we all breathe the same air and drink the same water”.
“CERN, through its engagement with Irish scientists, now has the opportunity to extend this culture of problem-solving to the sphere of peacebuilding”.
“Science, as a universal language, offers a neutral platform for dialogue. It transcends borders and employs a methodical approach to establish concrete facts. This can pave the way for neighbours, historically divided, to initiate dialogue, potentially leading to a future where their grandchildren can play together”.
“In today’s increasingly polarized political landscape, where solution-focused policymaking is often side-lined, this approach is more crucial than ever,” concluded Denis Naughten.
Denis Naughten TD is chairperson of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Working Group on Science and Technology.
The Inter Parliamentary Union is the global organisation of national parliaments, founded in 1889 on the principle of dialogue. It recognised the need to support engagement between science and parliament by establishing in 2021 the Working Group on Science and Technology, which Denis chairs to address global issues related to science and technology in parliamentary contexts.
Its main objective is to support global legislative initiatives in science and technology. We emphasize the ethical dimensions and strive to eliminate disparities that prevent universal access.