Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Questions (279)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

279. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if Ireland will apply for full membership of CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research; if not, the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5087/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Government’s priority in the area of science, technology and innovation is to implement the recommendations of the National Research Prioritisation Exercise which will see the majority of public research funding aligned with priority areas where we are most likely to get economic and social returns, particularly in the form of jobs.

Ireland's membership of international research organisations must be predicated on whether the benefit of membership, in terms of support to Irish researchers, companies and jobs, justifies the cost involved. I am conscious of the calls by some researchers for Ireland to apply for CERN membership. The last time a review of the benefits of Ireland joining CERN was undertaken, the conclusion was that it was not the best use of resources. Since then, resources have become even scarcer, but it is timely to have a fresh look at the opportunities and the costs associated with membership. Any decision about joining CERN must take into consideration the opportunity costs involved, as payment of any fees would have to come from existing funding, meaning that less funding would be available for our existing research priorities. I have an open mind on the matter and it will come down to what represents best value for taxpayers’ money. I have asked my Department to consult with CERN, the relevant research and enterprise agencies and with the academic/research community and to bring forward an assessment within the coming months.