All-Party Group on Science and Technology
The formation of the Northern Ireland Assembly All-Party Group on Science and Technology, in February 2012, heralded the start of a new and developing relationship between the science and engineering community in Northern Ireland, Members of the Assembly (MLAs), and the Executive.
The All-Party Group (APG) is chaired by Basil McCrea MLA and managed by the Royal Society of Chemistry, the world’s leading chemistry community. It meets three times a year with the principle objective of bringing together MLAs and others with an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in Northern Ireland.
The aim of the APG is to raise awareness among Members of important developments in STEM both technological and educational, and how policy issues impact upon these areas. The Group holds focused meetings, with debates opened by guest speakers who are active in the fields of interest.
Over the past eighteen months the Group has hosted a series of seminars in the Senate Chamber, Stormont, with a range of distinguished contributors, covering topics including fracking, renewable energy, the Mars Exploration Rover, and the sustainability of the electricity supply. Each event has drawn a large and enthusiastic attendance. Planning for the 2014 programme is currently underway.
CaSE is one of over 30 professional organisations and learned societies represented on the APG, and we were delighted to welcome Professor Sandy Steacy, CaSE Board Director and Professor of Earthquake Physics at the University of Ulster, as a member of the Group in September 2012.
Science and Stormont
The Royal Society of Chemistry also organises the annual Science and Stormont event, at the Parliament Buildings, which is quickly becoming a firm fixture in the Northern Ireland Assembly’s calendar.
Organised on behalf of, and in co-operation with, the Northern Ireland science and engineering community, Science and Stormont is designed to foster close relations between the community, the MLAs and the Northern Ireland Executive.
The second annual event, held in October 2013, was Health and Innovation themed and sponsored by Basil McCrea. It attracted a number of world-class speakers, as well as a capacity exhibition supported by 26 science and engineering organisations, including CaSE. Over 100 delegates attended the event in Belfast, representing a range of learned societies, professional organisations, academia and business.
In his welcome speech, Robert Parker, the Royal Society of Chemistry chief executive, spoke about our role in bringing scientists and policymakers together in Northern Ireland, and the progress we’ve been able to make so far.
“The Royal Society of Chemistry co-ordinates the work of the Northern Ireland Assembly All-Party Group on Science and Technology and together we have been leading the charge in demonstrating the necessity for the appointment of a Chief Scientific Adviser in Northern Ireland,” Robert said. “We are therefore delighted that, as outlined in the Draft Innovation Strategy for Northern Ireland, such a position is to be created. This will ensure that there is a systematic, co-ordinated and well-ordered approach to science within the public sector in Northern Ireland.”
Next year’s Science and Stormont will take place on Monday 13th October 2014.
Northern Ireland Assembly Links Scheme
To further build good working relations with Northern Ireland’s politicians, the Royal Society of Chemistry is helping our members connect with their local representatives, building on similar work at Westminster, Holyrood and Cardiff Bay.
We provide a means of mutual contact between our members and their MLAs. Elected representatives can be matched with members of the Royal Society of Chemistry who live in their constituency and can be called on for advice on chemical science. MLAs are also provided with briefing material by us directly on subjects concerning chemical science whenever they arise in the course of the cycle of Assembly business.
Members of the APG attended the recent launch of Politics Plus Exchange, at Stormont. The Royal Irish Academy has partnered with the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, Queen’s University Belfast, and the Northern Ireland Assembly Legislative Strengthening Trust to launch Politics Plus. This scheme intends to help MLAs establish links with active scientists and help scientists understand political decision-making and how they could input to policy development.
All this means that awareness of science and technology issues is growing at Stormont and we look forward to doing even more work with Northern Ireland’s politicians.
For further details on any of the above activities please contact Leigh Jeffes at email@example.com.