Ireland is finally set to become a member of CERN – the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research.
Based outside Geneva in Switzerland, its primary focus is on particle physics but it also plays a vital role in developing future technologies. It operates particle accelerators including the famous Large Hadron Collider.
It is understood Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris will seek Government approval at Cabinet on Tuesday to formally submit an application this month. If agreed, it will be considered by CERN on December 14th. For many years, Irish research institutions and academics have recommended joining CERN.
Mr Harris will outline how associate membership costing almost €2 million a year can bring benefits to Ireland across research, industry, skills, science outreach and international relations. It will open doors for Irish researchers to participate in CERN’s scientific programmes, while Irish citizens will be eligible for staff positions and fellowships.
These include masters and PhD programmes; apprenticeships, a graduate engineering training scheme, internships for computer scientists and engineers and technical training. These skills will be developed beyond what is currently possible in Ireland in critical areas such as electronics, photonics, materials, energy systems, quantum computing and software.
There are also opportunities for schoolteachers to participate in training programmes there and for second-level students to avail of outreach programmes.
Budget 2024 included a provision allowing for the CERN application through the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. If approved, it will be funded through the estimates process.