Tuesday, 6 December 2005
Question 73: To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if it is intended to fill the recently vacated post of chief science adviser; if the filling of the post will be by advertisement and open competition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37880/05]
Does the Minister regret that the first such position was not filled by open competition? Was his announcement of the moving of the former chief science adviser to a new position done at his instigation? If not, who instituted that move? When was it first mooted to create a position as research co-ordinator within the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources? Why was this post not open to public advertisement?
No, I do not. The reasons for this were advanced at the time in terms of developing a science architecture for the purposes of Government and public policy and the availability of a person who had a strong track record in his responsibilities in the European Commission's Joint Research Centre.
It is time to move on.
In regard to the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, the Deputy is aware that a broader undertaking is ongoing in terms of the strategic implementation plan for research. I chair the relevant Cabinet sub-committee. This initiative covers a wide range of Departments, one of which is the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. The latter has been looking at initiatives in terms of marine energy, particular communications and so on. Out of that process arose the need for a research co-ordinator. That is the context in which the Government decided to offer that position to the person who occupied the chief science adviser post until recently.
I will repeat my question in a very focused way. Perhaps then I will get an answer. When was it first decided to create the position of research co-ordinator within the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and why was that position not advertised?
In the last year. We have discussed with different Departments their respective sectoral plans that will feed into a broader Government strategic implementation plan on research. Arising from this, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources indicated he had a need for such a post and such a person. In the circumstances that evolved, it was considered by the Government that the person concerned would fulfil the needs and requirements of that particular position quite ably and effectively. Governments are entitled to take those decisions.
I have already issued a statement on this issue. The press release I issued at the time is a matter of public record. In the context of the controversy that had arisen at the time and its impact on the post of chief science adviser and future science policy, he agreed to move to a new position.