National research priorities


Sir, – On Wednesday the Government published its refreshed 14 research priorities for 2018-2023.

It claims that these priorities are critical to social and economic progress.

Yet all of them favour technological solutions only and promote business interests.

They completely ignore areas such as housing, deprivation, education, community development, economics, public administration, law, planning, culture, and the wider public good.

Apparently trying to understand society and economy and create better insight and policy in order to improve quality of life, address social issues, create efficiencies in service delivery, create wider economic development, and promote arts and culture, are not seen as worth investing in. Government seems to believe that creating jobs will fix everything else.

And yet, having almost full employment did not stop the last crash and Ireland continues to be riddled with a diverse set of crisis issues. These are not going to be fixed by technology solutions, a narrow focus on jobs, and back-of-envelope policy formulation that is not evidence-informed through in-depth, independent research.

We need fundamental and applied research about Irish society and economy, not simply large tech centres that seek disruptions to them, and provide subsidised corporate research and development. That means rethinking our research priorities to also serve the public good and investing in research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, through the Irish Research Council and directly by Government departments and State agencies. – Yours, etc,


Maynooth University,

Social Sciences Institute,

Co Kildare.