Wednesday, 2 October 2013
Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland)(Amendment) Bill 2012: [Seanad Bill amended by the Dáil] Report and Final Stages
This is a Seanad Bill which has been amended by the Dáil. In accordance with Standing Order 118, it is deemed to have passed its First, Second and Third Stages in the Seanad and is placed on the Order Paper for Report Stage. On the question "That the Bill be received for final consideration", the Minister of State may explain the purpose of the amendments made by the Dáil. This is looked upon as the report of the Dáil amendments to the Seanad. For Senators' convenience, I have arranged for the printing and circulation of the amendments. The Minister of State may now deal with the subject matter of the amendments in group 1. I have circulated details of the proposed grouping to the House. Senators may speak only once on the grouping. I remind them that the only matters which may be discussed are the amendments made by the Dáil.
With the Cathaoirleach's permission, I welcome the young ladies from Loreto secondary school in Clonmel to the Seanad.
I thank the Members for their constructive and positive approach to the consideration of this Bill. To preface my report to the House on the two amendments made to the Bill by Dáil Éireann, which are grouped together for the purposes of this debate, I will note briefly that the principal changes extending the remit of Science Foundation Ireland, SFI, through this legislation relate back to section 7 of the Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland) Act 2003. The latter deals with the functions of SFI and sets out the strategic scientific areas in which it is required to operate. While section 4 of the Bill provides for a number of amendments to SFI's functions, the primary purpose of the legislation is to extend the foundation's remit to enable it to fund applied research in addition to its existing remit to fund oriented basic research.
Two amendments were accepted in Dáil Éireann in respect of section 4 of the Bill, which amends section 7(1)(g) of the principal Act. An entirely new provision is being introduced to enable SFI to fund research aimed at enhancing the evidence base for the effectiveness of its investments. In this context, section 7(1)(g), as originally framed, provided for SFI to undertake:
(i) the development of research to assess the impact of research activities funded wholly or partly by the Foundation,The amendments accepted in Dáil Éireann introduced the words "and publication" into both sub-clauses, thereby providing for the publication of the findings of any such research the foundation conducts into the impact of its research activities. The two amendments presented no difficulties because publication of such research findings was always intended and so both were accepted. Those Senators who are familiar with the operations of SFI will be aware that it is a very open and progressive organisation that regularly publishes an array of material on its website, www.sfi.ie, highlighting developments arising from the activities it supports.
(ii) the assessment of research activities funded wholly or partly by the Foundation.
I thank Senators for the robust debate in which we engaged on the Bill when it was previously before the House. I enjoyed the contributions of Senators and the manner in which they were made. I thank the Seanad for its support for the legislation.
I thank the Minister of State for coming before us. Every improvement to the Bill is welcome. I compliment the Minister of State on his performance in the context of his responsibility for science. He is doing a good job. We need to continue to invest heavily in the area of science. I wish the Minister of State continued success for the remainder of his term of office.