Researchers to ‘shadow’ Oireachtas members under new Irish Research Council initiative

Posted: 11 July, 2018

Galway West / South Mayo Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton, Peter Brown, Director of the Irish Research Council, and researcher Morag Taite

Some of Ireland’s most promising researchers will participate in a ‘shadowing’ scheme at Leinster House over the coming months.

The scheme, which was officially launched today by the Irish Research Council, is aimed at strengthening academics’ and politicians’ understanding of the role research plays in public policy formation.

Galway West / South Mayo Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton is the first member of the Oireachtas to participate in the scheme, hosting researcher Morag Taite of NUI Galway in Leinster House today.

Additional members of the Oireachtas will host researchers during the autumn months, including Waterford Fianna Fáil TD Mary Butler; Dublin Mid-West Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin; and Fine Gael Senator Maria Byrne, who is based in Limerick.

Commenting today, Peter Brown, Director of the Irish Research Council, said: “Every year, the Irish Research Council funds hundreds of talented researchers, working on topics ranging from climate change and housing to conflict resolution and health.  The excellent research underway in Ireland can make an important contribution to public policy formation. 

“However, some TDs and Senators may not be aware of the full breadth and potential of Ireland’s research sector.  At the same time, some researchers may not see an immediate link between their work and the development of new policies and laws. 

“The initiative we’re launching today is aimed at bridging this divide between policy-making and research.  We want to ensure our elected representatives are supported to tap into publicly-funded research to enhance the policymaking process.”

Morag Taite, the first researcher to participate in the scheme, is a PhD scholar based in NUI Galway, working in the field of evolutionary biology.

Commenting today, she said: “I’m delighted to be paired with Deputy Hildegarde Naughton for the Irish Research Council’s Oireachtas shadowing scheme.  Deputy Naughton is Chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment, so my research has strong relevance to her role.  I’m looking forward to briefing her not only on my own work, but also on the challenges and opportunities facing the wider research sector.”

Deputy Naughton said: “As legislators, it is our duty and privilege to draw on the expertise of Ireland’s research sector.  We have some of the best researchers in the world working in this country and the Irish Research Council is funding research across a range of topics with exciting implications for public policy.  This new scheme is a great way for us members of the Oireachtas to find out more about how we can harness the skills of our research sector to enhance our society and economy.”