Record funding will allow Ireland to join the European Southern Observatory

10 October 2017

Record funding announced today by the Irish government will allow Ireland to join the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in 2018 – an outcome long sought by the country’s astrophysics community.

Record funding will allow Ireland to join the European Southern Observatory

In a budget speech in the Dail today, the Irish government committed to allocating €871 million to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, which means Ireland will be able to join the world-leading facility for observational astronomy in Chile.

Dr Sheila Gilheany, policy adviser for the IOP in Ireland, said: “This announcement has come after a long campaign from the astrophysics community in Ireland – and telling advocacy from the Institute of Physics.

“Ireland’s membership of ESO will now allow physicists here to work with other cutting-edge scientists worldwide to understand our universe and bring the fruit of that research back to Ireland to support education and develop our business capacity in many high-tech fields.

“Astrophysics, in particular, is a key driver of science interest and innovation. To support this, Irish scientists and engineers need access to the best research facilities, and this access brings with it the benefits of spin-off technology, contracts and jobs.”

Membership of ESO is expected to bring significant rewards to Ireland, including allowing Irish businesses the chance to compete for multi-million Euro contracts across a wide range of technologies; giving Irish researchers guaranteed access to ESO facilities, allowing Ireland to compete at the highest international levels and aligning its research strategies with those of Europe, thus optimising Ireland’s chances of success in Horizon 2020; providing Irish students with outstanding opportunities for training; and greatly enhancing public awareness and understanding of science across a range of disciplines.

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