Record number of IRC awards connecting researchers and community/voluntary organisations

Government departments and agencies also fund innovative research under New Foundations scheme

A total of 76 New Foundations projects that will bring researchers and community/voluntary organisations together to share knowledge and develop new insights to help create a better society are to be funded by Irish Research Council (IRC).

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, has welcomed the funding.

Since 2015, more than 200 community, voluntary and charity organisations have engaged in IRC programmes; 278 projects have been funded with an associated investment in excess of €6.5 million.

The projects announced on Tuesday will reach out across communities to look at diverse issues including those affecting carers; senior citizens, young people, migrant communities, and the LGBT+ community. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the wellbeing of different groups and on the delivery of services is also a significant theme within the research projects.


Among projects being funded are those led by the following:

– Dr Haroon Zafar of NUI Galway, who will be working with Croí heart and stroke charity on remote management of heart failure during Covid-19 through "telehealth";

– Suzanne Smith of Dundalk Institute of Technology, who will be partnering with Drogheda Community Services Trust on delivery of care in the home;

– Dr Siobhán O'Sullivan of University College Cork, who will be part of a collaboration with Bere Island Projects Group focusing on island housing and sustainable communities;

– Dr Lydia Bracken of the University of Limerick, who will be working with LGBT Ireland on the legal aspects of LGBT+ families;

– Dr Declan Redmond of University College Dublin, who will be partnering with the Irish Council for Social Housing on mapping and evaluating the social mix of tenants.


Mr Harris said the collaborations were helping important community and voluntary sector projects. “This vibrant sector plays such an important role in supporting different groups in society, including the more vulnerable or marginalised. Through partnerships with researchers, such as the projects being announced today, diverse community organisations can bring new evidence and insights to enhance their services and impact for those that need them,” he added.

The New Foundations scheme also includes strands supported by government departments and agencies. Over the past three years, a dedicated strand of the call has provided opportunities for researchers to work on important areas of policy including global development, crime, creativity and children.

On the funding partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs, IRC director Peter Brown said it continued to build a pipeline of research collaborations for future projects that support enhanced cooperation between the global north and global south, focusing on innovative responses to global challenges within the framework of the 2030 agenda for the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Extending partnerships with government departments and agencies is a key action under the IRC’s Strategic Plan 2020-2024, he added.

“As the Covid-19 pandemic has shown, the expertise of researchers across diverse disciplines is a valuable resource for policy. Accordingly, we are also delighted to be announcing New Foundations awards made under strands funded by the Creative Ireland Programme; the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and the Department of Justice,” Mr Brown said.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times