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Local student calls for Ireland to take up CERN membership

Tuesday, 31st December, 2013 4:12pm
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Local student calls for Ireland to take up CERN membership

Members of the Ireland for CERN campaign team, Aoibheann Brady from Cavan Town and fellow campaigner Nikki Truss pictured while visiting the European particle physics centre at CERN last year.

Local student calls for Ireland to take up CERN membership

Members of the Ireland for CERN campaign team, Aoibheann Brady from Cavan Town and fellow campaigner Nikki Truss pictured while visiting the European particle physics centre at CERN last year.

Seamus Enright

A Cavan woman is among a core group of students and academics set to lobby the Irish government over its lack of membership with the European particle physics centre at CERN. The group insist that by not joining the country is losing out financially as well as in promoting science education.
Aoibheann Brady from Cavan Town, a Maths student at Trinity College is a member of 'Ireland for CERN’. The group is preparing to launch a major nationwide campaign later this month aimed at encouraging the government to join CERN, amongst most respected centres for scientific research worldwide.
Ireland remains one of just a few European countries currently not a member of the Geneva-headquartered CERN project, and recent comments by Minister of State for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock suggest that a change in the policy is unlikely.
Full membership, based on GDP, is estimated to cost €11.6 million per year. But for Ireland to become an associate member the cost would be just a tenth of that figure.
Ireland for CERN argue that participation for other countries with CERN has not only helped the advance of science-based companies in member states, but has also assisted in fostering links to multinational technology companies through accessing the €500m a year in contracts CERN regularly gives to industry.

Ireland 'missing out’
Ms Brady told The Anglo-Celt that in addition to the financial benefits from more research projects, the boost to science education and the promotion of Irish research bodies, membership would also increase employment opportunities at home and help stem the brain drain.
“For those interested in theoretical physics, the point is obvious – Irish membership at CERN means more research opportunities, and the chance to collaborate on major experiments and with major names.
“For students specialising in studying statistics like myself it’s essentially the place to go when it comes to data analytics. For future engineers, computer scientists, the chance here to gain international expertise, CERN is unparalleled. For any student who hopes to remain in this country after college, here is the opportunity for job creation for the government. Equally, for those of us who hope to travel, the chance to work with CERN would open up countless doors.”
Ms Brady believes membership of CERN could be revolutionary in terms of the developmental reach it could have.
“For companies here too, there are opportunities for contracts in areas as varied as public health insurance administration to technology, catering to medical devices/biotech, engineering components to big data, a huge target area for our government, as well as so many others.
“There’s the chance too for secondary school physics teachers to receive training via the CERN Teacher Programme and to engage those students with topics in particle physics, astrophysics, and applications of CERN to technology.”

Growing pressure
The campaign from the 'Ireland for CERN’ is backed by the comments of Belfast-born scientist in charge of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), and current head of the newly-created Office for CERN Medical Applications, Dr Steve Myers.
The ground-breaking LHC was most recently used in the discovery of the Higgs boson sub-atomic particle, believed to be essential for formation of the Universe, and Dr Myers believes Ireland is “missing out” by failing to join CERN.
“What we’re doing now with the campaign should be viewed as an education exercise - engaging with the public about why CERN exists, what it’s trying to do and how it can benefit us,” Ms Brady told the Celt.
“We also hope that CERN membership would stimulate the economy into growth, and that it would lead to the creation of a considerable number of jobs - hopefully stemming the flow of young people out of the country.”
Ireland for CERN will officially launch their campaign and website- www.irelandforcern.org in the Science Gallery at Trinity College on January 31.
The group also plan on hosting a series of talks on CERN’s work and the benefits of membership across the country, including Cavan, in the coming months. For more information on how to get involved or support the 'Ireland for CERN’ campaign visit their Facebook page 'IRLforCERN’ or Twitter feed: @IRLforCERN.

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