Institute of Physics calls on Government to join CERN

The Institute of Physics (IOP), alongside the Higher Education Institutes, academics and students across Ireland, is today calling on Government join CERN as an Associate Member. This would cost Government approximately €1.46 million, only 10% of full membership costs, and would demonstrate a clear commitment to R&D alongside the many benefits of being a member.

This comes as the IOP, the largest professional body for physics in Ireland and the UK, and academics met today with Senators to outline why Ireland should join CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research and one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research. The IOP welcomes the commitment of Leader of the Seanad, Senator Regina Doherty, and a large number of Senators who participated in the briefing, among them Senator Malcolm Byrne and Senator Jerry Buttimer, and looks forward to the Seanad debating how to progress Ireland’s membership.

Today’s briefing with Senators follows comments from Minister Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further & Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science stating his Department is preparing a submission to Government regarding Ireland joining CERN.

Joining CERN would have significant benefits for Ireland in terms of investment in infrastructure, science, education & training, and technology, and would increase job opportunities:

—  Irish-based companies could bid for CERN contracts – Irish companies can currently only bid for contracts that can’t be sourced in CERN member states. Only one contract has been secured to date.

—  Irish citizens could apply for job positions at CERN – those working across physics, engineering, legal, accounting and administration could avail of significant international job opportunities.

—  Irish academics could apply for CERN research projects – this would create massive investment in Irish academia in addition to showcasing the depth and breadth of Ireland’s education expertise.

—  Irish students at all levels could apply for CERN training programmes – training the next round of experts would result in massive job creation in Ireland, in addition to increasing Ireland’s scientific knowledge and expertise.

—  Membership would put Ireland at the forefront of pushing advancement in the areas of technology and research.

The IOP commends Government’s recognition to date of the importance of joining CERN. Associate Membership was recommended by the Joint Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation in 2019 and as part of Government’s Innovation 2020 strategy.

Commenting, Lee Reynolds, Head of IOP Ireland and Northern Ireland (Job Share) with the Institute of Physics said: “We are today calling on Government to move forward and to join CERN as an Associate Member. Doing so will ensure job creation in addition to significant investment in research, training and technology, while ensuring Ireland is at the forefront of scientific discovery and research. We welcome today’s engagement with Senators from across the political spectrum, and we look forward to working alongside Senators, Ministers and Department officials into the future to realise Ireland’s potential in this area.

“The urgency to join CERN is evident; Ireland is currently one of only three EU countries not to have a relationship with CERN, alongside Malta and Luxembourg. This means Irish researchers wishing to avail of opportunities are reliant on using their own relationships with university abroad to access research projects. This means that, once innovation is achieved and projects complete, Irish researchers can’t reap the full benefits. Equally Irish companies are barred from tendering for a broad range of high value contracts.

“Joining CERN will create job opportunities and employment, will ensure Irish companies working in these areas can thrive, and will create further international opportunities for our students. In addition, it will clearly demonstrate Ireland’s commitment to research and development and will significantly boost the Irish research base through access to a global science infrastructure. It will also facilitate cross-border research with researchers in Northern Ireland, who currently benefit from the UK’s full membership of CERN.”