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Northern Ireland science group takes first step

Northern Ireland’s All Party Group on Science and Technology met for the first time this week.

The 20 February meeting was attended by almost a dozen members of the NI Assembly and led by the chairman of the Employment and Learning Committee, Ulster Unionist Basil McCrea.

According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, which has led a campaign to create the group in collaboration with the Campaign for Science and Engineering, the group’s priorities include pushing for a chief scientific adviser to Northern Ireland.

“Top of the agenda is the feeling that we do need a chief scientific adviser, much as we have a chief medical officer and a chief legal officer,” McCrea reportedly told the BBC, “because so much of what government does these days is a dispute between differing arguments and the government does need to be able to work out in a very timely and quick manner what has to be done; and you need to have built up a body of trust and body of information and someone that you think is competent who can give you advice in a very quick timescale.”

The group discussed ideas for meetings and debates, including science education and how science, technology, engineering and maths can stimulate growth.

Northern Ireland is the last of the devolved nations to have its own chief scientific adviser.