Research News

Shared Island research including cancer granted exploratory funding

  • 10 December, 2021


Taoiseach Micheál Martin, TD and Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD, have announced 11 awardees under the Irish Research Council (IRC)’s New Foundations programme, in partnership with the Shared Island unit in the Department of An Taoiseach.


The projects will bring researchers together to explore the political, socio-economic and cultural considerations of a shared future on the island. Exploring the benefits of an All-Island Cancer Research Institute, realising an all-island circular economy, improving inter-group relations through shared goals, and learning from what works in entrepreneurship education North and South are some of the areas included among the awards.


The funding for the top-ranked proposals will cultivate research, networking and collaboration in support of implementation and development of the Government’s Shared Island initiative. The awards will bring new insights and perspectives from researchers on the key challenges and opportunities facing the island.


Professor William Gallagher, Professor of Cancer Biology, Deputy Director of Precision Oncology Ireland and Fellow of UCD Conway Institute for Biomolecular and Biomedical Research, will lead a project exploring how an All-Island Cancer Research Institute can deepen North-South collaboration, enhance cancer outcomes, and help to strengthen social, economic, and political links on the island - in collaboration with Queen's University Belfast.


This year, Professor Gallagher led the launch of AICRI, the All-Island Cancer Research Institute consortium, to provide an overarching framework for cancer research across the island of Ireland, from discovery to implementation, for the benefit of cancer patients and wider society. The virtual institute brings together the combined strengths of cancer researchers on this island, linking with US and other international colleagues, to tackle the challenges of cancer.


Commenting on the Shared Island award, Professor Gallagher, who is co-lead of AICRI, said: “This key funding provides a critical foundation stone for the emerging All-Island Cancer Research Institute (AICRI), which now has representation from 10 academic institutions from North and South, along with Cancer Trials Ireland, the National Cancer Control Programme, the cancer charity sector and patient advocates. We are excited about the prospect of building an overarching framework for cancer research across the entire island of Ireland, which covers cancer prevention, diagnostics, treatment and survivorship/quality of life. The New Foundations programme will provide a catalyst for these activities, bringing various stakeholders together to advance our vision for AICRI."


Other top-ranked proposals included:


Professor Oran Doyle, Trinity College Dublin, will lead a project bringing together a network of legal scholars from North and South who will examine legal convergences and divergences across a range of areas and produce new knowledge and perspectives on shared island themes.


Assistant Professor Isobel Cunningham, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, will lead a research project on entrepreneurship in second-level education in the north-west border region, examining the differences in approaches and attitudes between the two education systems.


Professor Mick Morris, Trinity College Dublin, will lead collaborative research to create a network of expertise on the development of circular economic practices on the island.


Welcoming the awards, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, TD said: “I am very pleased to announce the 11 projects funded under this new partnership between the Shared Island unit in my Department and the Irish Research Council. The Shared Island initiative is an exciting and ambitious cross-Government programme aimed at bringing people from all communities and traditions together to build a better future for everyone on this island. I’m delighted to see such an interesting and diverse range of projects being supported with funding from the Shared Island unit. The outputs from these new North/South research partnerships will play an important role in shaping and developing our understanding of a shared island.”


Minister Simon Harris, TD said: “Research can play a significant role in building links between communities by finding solutions to common problems and this programme will tap into the expertise and talent in the research systems of this island – north and south – for the benefit of Shared Island goals. The funded projects will see researchers from across the island form partnerships including to develop the circular economy, improve cancer treatment, and foster recovery in the performing arts industry. My Department is proud to support this initiative through the work of the Irish Research Council.”


Director of the Irish Research Council, Peter Brown, added: “The Irish Research Council is delighted to partner with the Shared Island unit of the Department of the Taoiseach. A central focus of the Irish Research Council is to foster connections between researchers and wider stakeholders to co-create new evidence and knowledge that benefits society, including our shared, diverse society and traditions on the island of Ireland. The Council’s programmes continue to provide excellent opportunities for research partnerships with Government departments and agencies, civil society and enterprise and we are delighted to be leveraging the expertise of the research community across different disciplines in the important project that is the Shared Island initiative.”


The other Shared Island awards announced were:


Professor Jennifer Todd, UCD School of Politics and International Relations: Negotiating difference on a shared island: agonism, commonality, or critical-constitutionalism. In collaboration with: University of Aberdeen; Analyzing and Researching Ireland North and South (ARINS); Centre on Constitutional Change (CCC), University of Edinburgh; the National Collective of Community Based Women's Networks (NCCWN); Fermanagh Women's Voices; Institute for British Irish Studies, UCD.

Dr Victoria Durrer, UCD School of Art History and Cultural Policy: Building Capacity for the Cultural Industries: Towards a Shared-Island Approach. In collaboration with: Queen's University Belfast; Arts Council Northern Ireland; Irish Theatre Institute; Theatre and Dance NI; Cavan County Council Arts Office.

Dr Steve Campbell, UCD School of Physics: Éire strategy for QUantum Information and TechnologY. In collaboration with: UCD Centre for Quantum Engineering, Science, and Technology (C-QuEST); Queen's University Belfast; Trinity College Dublin.

Dr Isobel Cunningham, Letterkenny Institute of Technology: Appraise Curriculum Content for Entrepreneurship in Secondary Schools. In collaboration with Ulster University Business School.

Dr Amanda Haynes, University of Limerick: Towards A Fair and Prosperous Island: An All-Island Network to Combat Hate. In collaboration with: Queens University Belfast; Transgender Equality Network Ireland; LGBT Ireland; the Probation Service; Probation Service Northern Ireland.

Dr Jenny Roth, University of Limerick: Brexit at the border: Intergroup Relations on the Shared Island. In collaboration with: University of Essex; Queen's University Belfas; Ulster University; University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany.

Dr Deiric Ó Broin, Dublin City University: Assisting the Irish churches and religious communities to develop values-based common positions on current European issues and to engage with European counterparts. In collaboration with: Irish Council of Churches; Irish Inter-Church Meeting; Dublin City Inter-Faith Forum.

Dr Michael Morris, Trinity College Dublin: Providing a multi-disciplinary expert network to promote and support implementation of a circular economy on the island of Ireland, AICEG (All-Island Circular Economy Group). In collaboration with: Queen's University Belfast; University of Limerick; Athlone Institute of Technology; Irish Manufacturing Research Centre; University College Cork; National University of Ireland Galway; the Rediscovery Centre.

Dr Oran Doyle, Trinity College Dublin: North-South Legal Mapping Project. In collaboration with: Queen's University Belfast; University College Dublin; Dublin City University.

Dr Padraic Whyte, Trinity College Dublin: Reading Rooms: Fostering constructive & inclusive dialogue between communities. In collaboration with: Verbal, Trinity College Dublin.