June 2, 2020

The RIA urges Ireland to create a science advice network for the government

Science support policies in Ireland

The Royal Irish Academy (RIA) have called for the delivery of an independent network of scientific members to support and advise the government on the range of scientific challenges facing Ireland. Dr. Mary Canning, the president of the Royal Irish Academy explained that the existing office of the Chief Scientific Advisor lacks the staff and financial support to complete the pressing jobs facing the nation.

Dr. Canning explained that all political parties across the nation should be prioritising the development of a scientific advisory office; a large proportion of today’s challenges typically involve complications and levels of uncertainty. Dr. Canning stated that policymakers are constantly having to deal with highly challenging policies requiring a range of input, knowledge and scientific insights.


Credible and objective scientific research can support policymakers in understanding the policy problems, to evaluate and deliver the best option and provide clear insights around urgent areas within our society. Aside from the existing crisis there are a number of situations where government members or representatives would greatly benefit from gaining access to scientific information to support in the delivery of effective policies.  Dr. Canning refers to the networked approach implemented by NPHET, involving a number of experts contributing towards a strategy as a very effective method of producing reliable information required by policymakers.


It’s clear that this approach could be applied to other challenges facing our government and society, including climate change and other environmental issues concerned in Ireland. Dr. Canning believes that the existing system is not utilising this system. Ireland has a chief scientific adviser who continues to assist the government, but unlike other nations, there is no current network of experts to assist this position or a network to enable other professionals to support this position.


Following on from the economic crash Ireland launched the Economic and Evaluation Service in order to provide cross-government support. Dr. Canning believes a similar scientific advisory service needs to be delivered.