Minister for Natural Resources Joe McHugh TD today launched the inaugural Scientist and Oireachtas Member Pairing Scheme in the Royal Irish Academy
The Pairing Scheme will bring together elected representatives and expert scientists working on the Island of Ireland to discuss issues of national importance such as flooding risks, health and education service delivery, coastal erosion and geotourism.
23 TDs and Senators drawn from across all political parties and independents have signed up to take part in the scheme which will run for six months (May – November 2015).
Speaking at the event former Táinaiste Mary Harney highlighted the importance of collaboration between politicians and scientists to increase the level of evidence based research that can be used in policy making.
Minister Joe McHugh, who will himself be paired with Professor John Walsh of UCD in the area of geosciences, said
“I am honoured to launch this innovative scheme, particularly as it deals with such nationally important topics as our natural resources, health and development and how our understanding of geoscience relates to this.”
President of the Royal Irish Academy, Professor Mary E Daly, said this project will set the stage for future collaboration by highlighting expert knowledge and academic research relating to key issues of concern for the public.
The pairing scheme aims to brief public representatives on scientific research being carried out on chosen topics and also to introduce scientists to the workings of the Houses of the Oireachtas.
The Scheme, which follows a similar scheme operated in the Northern Ireland Assembly, is being run by the Royal Irish Academy with the support of the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland.
Geoscience Ireland participants include Koen Verbruggen (Director, GSI) and Sean Finlay. Other GSI personnel taking part include, Sarah Gatley, Brain McConnell, Gerry Stanley and Ray Scanlon.