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Applications open for Shared Island research projects with the Irish Research Council

The Irish Research Council, in partnership with the Department of the Taoiseach, has opened a call for applications for research related to the Government’s Shared Island initiative.


Up to ten awards, with a maximum value of €20,000 each, will be made under the New Foundations programme and will be funded by the Shared Island unit of the Department of the Taoiseach.


The Government’s Shared Island initiative is engaging with all communities and traditions on the island to build consensus around a shared future, underpinned by the Good Friday Agreement.


This strand of the New Foundations programme will fund research and related networking and collaboration that will contribute new knowledge or perspective to inform the implementation and development of the Government’s Shared Island initiative.


Proposals may be submitted by a Principal Investigator within an Eligible Higher Education Institution or Research Performing Organisation, and applicants should reference research partnerships, either North/South on the island of Ireland, East/West across these islands, or through an international collaboration with relevance for the island of Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement.


An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD said:


“I welcome the announcement of the Irish Research Council’s New Foundations 2021 programme, which includes a number of strands providing opportunities for researchers to work on important areas of Government policy.


“My Department is funding a strand on Shared Island to support up to 10 research projects, involving North/South and East/West collaboration, that can inform the implementation and further development of the Government’s Shared Island initiative.


“I encourage researchers to consider the contribution their expertise and collaborations could make to the Shared Island initiative. I look forward to seeing the contribution that the approved research proposals will make to political and public discourse on our shared future on the island underpinned by the Good Friday Agreement.”


Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD added:


“This is a really exciting announcement. Research can form the building blocks for greater cooperation across the island and offer opportunities to continue the conversation about our shared future. 


“This call will fund 10 projects and will examine key issues of our shared island and the needs and opportunities for deepening North/South co-operation.


“My Department and I are proud to support this work.” 


Director of the Irish Research Council, Peter Brown concluded:


“The Council is delighted to be working with the Shared Island initiative of the Department of the Taoiseach under the New Foundations scheme. The scheme provides an ideal vehicle to leverage the expertise in our research system to support the development of this important new policy unit within government. 


“Core to the mandate of the Irish Research Council is partnership – with policy-makers, civil society, social and economic innovators – to support a better and more prosperous future. This new strand of New Foundations funded by the Shared Island unit represents an exciting new opportunity for engagement between researchers and policy-makers across a diverse range of themes.”


The call for applications for the New Foundations programme launches today [14 April 2021] and will remain open for six weeks.  Full details are available here.




Note to Editor:


Areas for research:


Proposals for research and related networking and collaboration must contribute new knowledge or perspective to inform the Government’s objectives and commitments on a Shared Island, as set out in the Programme for Government and by the Taoiseach, and specifically to one or more of the following areas:


Theme 1: Political, policy and economic cooperation on the island:

  • Needs and opportunities for deepening North/South cooperation, including through the North South Ministerial Council agreed areas of cooperation on: Agriculture, Education, Environment, Health, Tourism and Transport, and the work of the North South Implementation Bodies.
  • Collaborative public investment to support cross-border sustainable development strategies in the North West and other Border regions, working with the Executive and British Government.
  • Enhancing and developing the all-island economy, including through more coordinated policies and supports for enterprises, to support the creation of new jobs on the island, particularly in border regions.
  • Enhancing sustainable transport connectivity on the island.
  • More joined-up approaches on environmental issues, including on tackling climate breakdown and the biodiversity crisis.
  • Supporting all-island approaches to planning frameworks, land use planning and river basin management.
  • Collaboration on tackling issues of ingrained disadvantage on the island, including educational under-achievement, working with the Executive and British Government.


Theme 2: Civic, social and cultural connections and understanding on the island:

  • Fostering better acknowledgment and understanding of the diverse identities and experiences on the island through cooperation on education curriculums, in subjects such as History and English.
  • Needs and opportunities to better engage with and cherish diverse identities and traditions on the island of Ireland, including through artistic and cultural exchange.
  • Strengthening of civic, sporting or cultural links on the island, taking account of North/South and East/West dimensions.
  • Civil society, community, or arts and cultural sector initiatives that enable constructive and inclusive dialogue around the future of the island.
  • Ensuring as broad a range of perspective and experience from civil society on the island as possible, on a shared future underpinned by the Good Friday Agreement, including the voices of women, young people and new communities on the island that have been under-represented in the Peace Process.


It is expected that up to 10 awards will be made under this strand, with the aim of achieving a balanced portfolio of awards across the two thematic pillars, subject to proposals meeting the criteria and quality standards detailed in the Call Specification Document. Research proposals will be considered from fields relevant to the areas noted above, and may comprise inter-disciplinary work or collaborations.


Research conclusions should refer to the public policy context and objectives for the Government’s Shared Island initiative.