Thursday, March 10, 2011

No Science Minister?

The failure of the new FG/Labour coalition to appoint a Junior Minister for science is very disappointing.

It is in contrast to the previous administration who, although they did a lot of things wrong, had a junior minister with responsibility for 'Science, Technology & Innovation'.

This junior ministry spot was held by Conor Lenihan who had his own unfortunate incident when for a period, it looked as if he would launch a book suggesting that evolution was a load of rubbish. In the end, and after some amount of controversy, he didn't launch the book.

Personalities aside, it is important that science is represented in this government. As a scientist, I would argue that there should be a full minister with a seat at the cabinet table. I realise that this may be a bit of a long shot, so a junior ministerial spot might be all we can expect.

Unfortunately, with the announcement of the 15 new junior ministers, it seems that science is nowhere to be seen.

Sean Sherlock, a very capable politician gets 'Research & Innovation' which, one assumes is a reincarnation of the 'science,technology and innovation' position. But if so, then why drop the reference to science? Has science become less important since the last Dail sat?

This may be just a perception thing and some would argue that it doesn't matter what the ministers are called as long as they get the job done. Fair enough, but as Enda Kenny seems to have realised, politics is often about perception and 'optics'.

I believe it is important that science is well represented at a national level. The omission of a minister with clear, defined responsibility for science does nothing to suggest that this new administration takes science and a knowledge-led recovery seriously. I believe it is a mistake not to have a science minister and not to have that person clearly identified as such.

1 comments: March 11, 2011 at 12:12 PM  

I don't know Eoin, as you say Politics is a lot about perceptions and science still, unfortunately, still has the perception of being slightly stuffy and very hard.

Research & Innovation sounds fresh and exciting and covers the exact same territory. And as we're aiming towards our Knowledge Economy we want to be all about research & innovation right?

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