The Irish Research Council responds to establishment of ‘Irish Research Council’

Government proposes merger of Research Councils-IRCHSS responds to establishment of ‘Irish Research Council’

The Irish Government has today announced the merger of the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering & Technology (IRCSET), the main funders of graduate and early-stage research in Ireland.

Government proposes merger of Research Councils-IRCHSS responds to establishment of ‘Irish Research Council’

Government proposes merger of Research Councils-The Irish Research Council responds to establishment of ‘Irish Research Council’

The Irish Government has today announced the merger of the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (The Irish Research Council) and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering & Technology (IRCSET), the main funders of graduate and early-stage research in Ireland.

Government proposes merger of Research Councils-The Irish Research Council responds to establishment of ‘Irish Research Council’

The Irish Government has today announced the merger of the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (The Irish Research Council) and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering & Technology (IRCSET), the main funders of graduate and early-stage research in Ireland.

As the sole Irish funding organisation for humanities and social sciences researchers in disciplines as diverse as language, law, literature, history, business and economics, The Irish Research Council sees merit in the initiative but will be keen to ensure that the value, tradition and integrity built up by both Councils be retained as this merger proceeds. The architecture put in place needs to ensure the autonomy of The Irish Research Council disciplines which “will always be an important part of the research landscape”1. It should also secure the funding stream, historically the sole source of funding nationally for research in the humanities and social sciences and continue to support bottom-up, not programme-driven or prioritised research. The Irish Research Council was formally established in 1999 following a HEA report2 which identified the need for an independent and autonomous Research Council for the social sciences and the humanities. Over ten years later, research and innovation have become ever more important to Ireland’s economic and social cohesion. To the extent that this merger is a move towards a ‘council of councils’ which can create equity of opportunity for talented scholars from a multitude of backgrounds and disciplines, it is a positive development and one with which The Irish Research Council looks forward to engaging.

The Irish Research Council has always recognised the contribution made by many Irish and international members of the academic community who have gladly given of their time and expertise over the years. In particular, the various members of the Research Council and its sub-committees charged with oversight of Council activities have contributed on a pro bono publico basis without remuneration. The retention of this spirit of public service through the donation of expertise by relevant academic communities should continue to underpin any future developments.

Since 1999, The Irish Research Council has supported over 1,473 individual PhD Scholars, enhanced the careers of 335 Postdoctoral Fellows to date and has facilitated access for Irish researchers to international networks and European opportunities through its project funding schemes. The Irish Research Council support for national projects has been successfully leveraged in external competitions by researchers now working on major internationally-funded projects in the areas of war studies, globalisation, trade and the politics of economic development and social inequality3. More locally The Irish Research Council researchers make a significant contribution to teaching and learning in higher-education institutions through their research on themes such as the nature and efficacy of Rape Crisis Centre support, the psychological factors affecting perceptions of breast cancer in Irish women and the effect of

these perceptions on screening attendance, obesity in middle class Irish families with young children and the standard of food provision in residential centres for young people.

Despite the importance of The Irish Research Council research as a means to examine, interpret and understand challenges and point us to answers as we seek to create an ‘inclusive, innovative and secure society',1 the arts, humanities and social sciences’ share of national research funding has remained at around 3% of the national spend2. Despite historically lower levels of investment, most jobs currently created in Ireland are in sectors linked to the arts, humanities and social sciences. The IDA has noted that continuous innovation plays a central role in Ireland’s future as a knowledge-based economy, fostering a new generation of innovators, supporting exciting collaborative projects and delivering future solutions to the marketplace3. Recognising this, The Irish Research Council has continually argued that good policies, both economic and social, promulgated by Government are based on research, often funded by The Irish Research Council.

Preserving and improving supports for humanities and social sciences research in a new federated structure will be both difficult and important in a society which has to continue to address challenges of equality and social cohesion in the midst of a deepening global financial crisis.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Malcolm Byrne,

Head of Communications,
Higher Education Authority,
Brooklawn House,
Shelbourne Road,
Dublin 4.

Mob: +353 (86) 22 37 102

Tel: +353 (0)1 2317 162

Fax: +353 (0)1 2317 172

www.hea.ie

 

www.irishresearchcouncil.ie

1 Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science: "The future of Social Sciences and Humanities in Horizon 2020", Speech at the British Academy, London, 10 November 2011

2 Playing To Our Strengths: The Role of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and Implications for Public Policy, HEA, September 2010 (pg. 135-136).