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Evidence Matters - Sixteen citizens and community groups tell TDs why evidence matters to them

On Wednesday 14th November Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan TD, will welcome people and community groups from around Ireland to Leinster House to make the case to TDs, Ministers and Officials that evidence matters to the public, and why they expect politicians to discuss it openly.

Sixteen people will each give a 1-minute speech about why evidence matters to them, including a craft brewer, a beekeeper, a chef, farmer, a parent and an inter-county hurler, as well as community group representatives urging government to use evidence in policymaking on housing, loneliness, the environment, cycling and the Irish language.

Together we want to tell government and opposition TDs that:

  • Evidence must be central to formulating policy;
  • Ministers must use evidence to explain their reasoning;
  • The Dáil must at all times seek and scrutinise reasoning behind policies.

Evidence Matters is an initiative of Sense about Science supported by Science Foundation Ireland and hosted by Minister John Halligan. They are organising this event in the face of a new wisdom setting in that the public aren’t interested in evidence in our ‘post-truth’ society, to challenge this caricature that the public is uninterested in the soundness of policy.

Sense about Science has published the stories the citizens are going to tell in a booklet. There are many others who would have come in their place and we have collected comments and support from some of those people too. Every one of the 40 political constituencies in Ireland is represented as well as the six counties of Northern Ireland.

Síle Lane, Head of international campaigns and policy, Sense about Science “As the idea of a “post truth” public rumbles through public life, people have been asking us what it means and whether politicians might start ignoring the public values of truthfulness and accountability. These people coming to the Dáil today are challenging the caricature that the public is uninterested in the soundness of policy. They have different opinions, they don’t agree on what evidence to prioritise and others would no doubt disagree with them. But in uniting over its importance to understanding, accountability and scrutiny, we hope they’ll inspire TDs to strike for better in public life.”

Professor Mark Ferguson Director General, Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland “Science Foundation Ireland invests in world-leading research in Ireland. As an agency, we are passionate about ensuring that research, funded by the public, provides societal benefit to the people of Ireland – be that through medical breakthroughs or generating data to support government policymaking. I am very enthusiastic about this partnership with Sense about Science which provides us with an opportunity to highlight the importance of evidence-based policy making and the impact that publicly-funded research can have.”

Minister John Halligan Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Education and Skills with special responsibility for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development Minister stated “As public representatives in Dáil Éireann and the Houses of the Oireachtas, there is an onus on politicians and policy makers to ensure that government policy, which can have far reaching implications for the people of Ireland, is made through informed, data-driven analysis and debate. I am delighted to invite Sense about Science and Science Foundation Ireland to bring real life stories to the Houses of the Oireachtas, to shine a light on the importance of evidence-based policy making during Science Week 2018.”

Details of the event: 13:00 – 14:00 Wednesday 14th November 2018 in the Audio-Visual Room, Government Buildings, Kildare St, Dublin 2

For more information, a copy of the booklet of stories and comments, or to set up interviews contact Síle Lane slane@senseaboutscience.org 089 2572186

The sixteen citizen speakers at Evidence Matters Ireland are:

Alannah Murray, accessibility advocate, Cavan town, Co Cavan
The experiences of disabled people should be used to inform disability-friendly laws and policies.

Barry Sheridan, CEO, Irish Men’s Sheds Association
Evidence clarified how loneliness and isolation affect men’s health and the need for organisations like Men’s Sheds.

Mona O’Donoghue Concannon, West Women in Farming, farmer, Dunmore, Co Galway
Government must improve how it collects data on agricultural workers to better identify the forgotten women in farming.

Aine Mulloy, co-founder, tech start-up, GirlCrew
Businesses need to base decisions on evidence and policy makers should do that too.

Ken Norton, beekeeper, Co Westmeath
Discussions based on evidence are the best route to conserving and retaining Ireland’s natural heritage.

Dr Chantal Kobel, postdoctoral researcher on medieval Irish manuscripts, School of Celtic Studies, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies
Policymakers can learn a lot about the future of the Irish language by looking at evidence from the past.

Anne-Marie O’Reilly, policy officer, Threshold
Evidence collected through Threshold’s services helped shape policies to better protect tenants.

Pádraig O’Browne, Chairman, Old Irish Goat Society, Mulranny, Co Mayo
Research is uncovering more and more about Ireland’s native species, now policymakers need to bring in legislation to protect our native animal breeds.

Alison Duggan, student, St. Colman’s Community College, Midleton, Co Cork
On behalf of Irish teenagers like me, the government urgently needs to develop evidence-based legislation to combat climate change.

Sean McVeigh, hurler and sports scientist, Co Donegal
Building evidence for the role the GAA can play in promoting physical and mental health in local communities.

Jeanne Mahony, co-founder, Hope Beer, Howth Junction, Dublin 5
Politicians spoke with breweries and looked at the evidence when bringing in the Craft Drinks Bill 2018.

Dr Paul Corcoran, chairperson, Dublin Cycling Campaign
Policymakers should look at the evidence of the benefits of improving cycling infrastructure in Dublin.

Eunice Power, chef and caterer, Dungarvan, Co Waterford
Evidence matters because food waste is a growing problem and we need to find solutions

Sharon Nolan, customer support worker and Bi+ Ireland coordinator, Co Galway
Why evidence is important to the “everyday” citizen.

Andrew Galvin, poet and playwright, Co Donegal
Conversations between the arts and sciences strengthens both, policymakers should acknowledge this.

Melíosa Bracken, parent, Celbridge, Co Kildare
Parents weigh up evidence when making decisions every day, policymakers should do the same.

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