University rankings highlights need for greater emphasis on research

As Fianna Fáil Science, Technologyh, Innovation and Research I beleive the publication of the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings highlights the need for a greater emphasis to be placed on developing Ireland’s third level research sector.

It’s important to note that there are multiple parameters driving these figures and no league table should be the primary focus of university activity. However these rankings nonetheless offer a good insight into how Irish universities are perceived internationally.

It’s positive to see TCD moving back inside the top 200 ranked universities in the world while three other Irish universities, namely UCD, RCS and NUIG, have made it into the top 250. However Ireland should be aiming to have multiple universities placed within the top 200 universities worldwide.

Ireland should be aiming to emulate the success of our near neighbour Scotland which has five universities in the top 200. Questions have to be asked as to why Irish universities are not, as a bloc, punching to that weight internationally. While the Taoiseach is busy opening SFI centres, his Government continues to underfund the third level research sector. This is preventing Irish universities from achieving their true potential.

Previous Fianna Fáil led Governments launched several successful funding initiatives for high end research, however this commitment has not continued under Fine Gael. The research sector has experienced a retrenchment under Fine Gael as there is an unhealthy focus on promoting commercial activity. This is preventing universities from focusing on progressing important research that does not necessarily have an immediate commercial application.

It’s imperative that this shift in emphasis is reversed and rebalanced in order for Ireland to continue its great tradition of pioneering research and academic excellence.

With Brexit on the horizon there is a huge opportunity for an open, welcoming nation like Ireland to attract world class researchers who are seeking a new academic home.

Minister must bring CERN talks to Cabinet

Pictured at the march for Science recently.

Pictured at the march for Science recently.

As Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Science, Technology, Research& Development I have urged Minister Francis Fitzgerald to accelerate the process of Ireland joining CERN.

Membership of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) has major benefits for the research and development sector in Ireland yet no progress has been made by the Government in joining the organisation. Continue Reading →

Independent Broadcasting Bill will strengthen viability of local media

captureThe Independent Broadcasting Bill 2017 which seeks to extend support to the broadcasting of local news and current affairs by providing funding which will strengthen and promote diversity in media. Independent, public service broadcasting has an important place in our society and we must do more to value it.

There has been a significant shift in advertising spending towards social media platforms, and traditional media organisations are increasingly starved of revenue. Continue Reading →

Telescope Switch On in Offaly

20476417_10155364678036047_5891420325048509082_nI was in Birr Castle recently for the switch-on of the I-LOFAR radio telescope which is Ireland’s part of a giant European telescope which can scan deep space. It works as a set of distributed nodes which each send data back to a central supercomputer.

The Castle has been a home for astronomers for centuries since the original Lord Rosse built the world’s biggest telescope there in the 1800s. The technology has changed but the intention remains the same and the current Lord Rosse was on hand to send the latest model live with us last week. Continue Reading →

Selected to contest the next general election

c754c8c7-df40-43a5-b0ee-810919a621dbI have been nominated by the party membership to contest the next general election. The selection convention held in the Westrgrove, Clane selected two Fianna Fáil candidates to run in the next general election. It is a tremendous honour for me to be nominated by the members in Kildare North to contest the next election on behalf of the party. I would especially like to thank those cumainn that nominated me including Kill, Sallins, Naas, Prosperous, Carbury, Kilshanroe, Kilcock and the Old Carton cumann, Maynooth as well as all the individual party members who placed their faith in me again. Continue Reading →