Senator Maria Byrne hosts Limerick researcher as part of the Irish Research Council’s Oireachtas shadowing scheme

Posted: 18 October, 2018

Pictured at the Irish Research Council’s Oireachtas ‘shadowing’ scheme were Limerick-based Senator, Maria Byrne; University of Limerick researcher and Associate Professor, Dr Maura Adshead; and Dr Eavan O’Brien, Assistant Director of the Irish Research Council.

Limerick-based Senator, Maria Byrne, is the latest member of the Oireachtas to participate in a new ‘shadowing’ scheme, organised by the Irish Research Council.

The scheme sees some of Ireland’s most promising researchers ‘shadowing’ members of the Oireachtas in Leinster House.  It is aimed at strengthening academics’ and politicians’ understanding of the role research plays in public policy formation.

Participating in the scheme, researcher Dr Maura Adshead was hosted at Leinster House by Senator Byrne. Dr Adshead is Associate Professor at the Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Limerick.

Senator Byrne said: “We have some of the best researchers in the world working in Ireland and as members of the Oireachtas, it is our duty and privilege to draw on the expertise of Ireland’s research sector to enhance the legislative process.

“The Irish Research Council is funding excellent research across a whole variety of issues, which have significant impact on formation of public policy. This scheme is a great way for us members of the Oireachtas to find out more about how we can harness the knowledge and skills of our research sector to enhance our society and economy.”

Speaking today, Dr Adshead – who is from Castleconnell, County Limerick – said: “I was happy to take up the opportunity to partner a politician for the day, as part of the Irish Research Council’s Oireachtas ‘shadowing’ scheme, on condition that my politician shadows me for a day too! For this reason, I am delighted to be paired with a Senator Maria Byrne from Limerick.

“Much of my current work focuses on developing citizen engagement and constructive political engagement to address the issues that matter most to people and the Irish Research Council have been a great supporter for this work.

“Young people in Limerick have benefitted from an Irish Research Council New Foundations grant that I received in partnership with Limerick Youth Services. Together we have co-created workshops and resources for young people to actively promote human rights and democracy.

“This work has formed the basis for an international ‘#Youth Engage’ partnership, which is now underpinning a three-year Irish Research Council “CAROLINE” fellowship cofunded under the H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND programme. This ‘shadowing’ scheme presented an opportunity to brief Senator Byrne and her colleagues on this work and research – and to highlight the opportunities as well as the challenges that Irish research can deliver.”

Dr Eavan O’Brien, Assistant Director of the Irish Research Council, said the scheme is aimed at bridging the divide between politics, policy-making and research. “Every year, the Irish Research Council makes new awards to hundreds of talented researchers, working on topics ranging from climate change and housing to conflict resolution and health,” she said.  “The excellent research underway in Ireland can make an important contribution to public policy formation and the legislative process.

“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 impact that it has on the development of new policies and laws.

“We have therefore developed this ‘shadowing’ scheme with the view to bridging the divide between policy-making and research – and to ensure that our elected representatives are supported to tap into publicly-funded research.”

Senator Byrne is the second member of the Oireachtas to take part in the scheme, with Hildegard Naughton, TD hosting Galway researcher, Morag Taite in July. Additional members of the Oireachtas will host researchers over the coming months, including Waterford Fianna Fáil TD Mary Butler and Dublin and Mid-West Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin.

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