Ahead of a meeting of scientists and politicians at Stormont today, the chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Dr Robert Parker, said: “We are delighted that, as outlined in the draft Northern Ireland Innovation Strategy, the position of Chief Scientific Adviser in Northern Ireland is to be created.
“Together with the Northern Ireland Assembly All Party Group on Science and Technology, the Royal Society of Chemistry has been leading the charge in demonstrating the necessity for this appointment in Northern Ireland, which is now the only devolved administration in the UK not to benefit from a single line of clear and coherent scientific advice.
“The appointment of a CSA will provide Stormont with a champion for science, skills and industry who can support the business and scientific community in Northern Ireland to boost the country’s economy.”
The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Industry launched its draft Northern Ireland Innovation Strategy for public consultation last month. Under the heading ‘Coordinated Approach to Science across Government’, the document says: “To have a systematic, coordinated and well-ordered approach to science within the public sector in Northern Ireland, and to reinforce its importance in driving economic growth, we will appoint a Chief Scientific Adviser for Northern Ireland.”
The Royal Society of Chemistry is holding its second Science and Stormont event in Belfast today. The meeting will bring scientists and engineers together with the members of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive to champion innovation as a solution for tackling global healthcare challenges and to strengthen links between the scientific and political communities.
Ahead of her speech at the event, Professor Bernadette Hannigan, Chief Scientific Adviser to the NI Department of Public Health and Social Services, applauded the decision to appoint a CSA for Northern Ireland.
She said: “Led by their Chief Scientific Advisors, government departments across the UK are using scientific knowledge and expertise to maximise the effectiveness of policies that affect all of our lives.
“From agriculture to big data, from climate to energy, from health to innovation and much more, access to reliable, timely scientific advice is vitally important.”
Dr Dermot Hannah of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Northern Ireland Local Section says its members echo that sentiment.
He said: “We warmly welcome the proposal to achieve a co-ordinated approach to science across government and believe the appointment of a Chief Scientific Advisor for Northern Ireland and creation of an Innovation Council will help to achieve this.”