Innovation 2020, the national strategy for research and innovation, recognises that for Ireland to become a Global Innovation Leader, our research and innovation system must be open with strong international collaboration links. Membership of leading international research organisations is an important mechanism for facilitating this engagement.
For this reason, the Government gave a specific commitment in Innovation 2020 to initiate discussions with several international research organisations. Four organisations were identified – CERN, the European Southern Observatory, ELIXIR and LOFAR - and membership of three of these organisations has been completed. Ireland continues its consideration of CERN membership.
Under the National Development Plan 2018-2027, as part of Project Ireland 2040, the Government outlined its intention to review Ireland's membership of CERN. This would generate opportunities not only for Irish enterprise but also for its research community. While the benefits of CERN membership are recognised as significant, the cost is also significant and must be assessed in the context of other Departmental and national investment priorities.
Following the recent establishment of my new Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, CERN membership will be considered in the context of the programme for government and national investment priorities for research and innovation. Ireland continues its consideration of full and associate CERN membership and my Department remains in contact with CERN officials.