The 20 new positions will be based at Newport research facility where they will be engaged in a number of projects funded from a secured pot of €6 million in research grants from a number of agencies including the Science Foundation Ireland, Interreg, EU H2020/European Research Council, European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and the British Research Council.
Speaking in Furnace, near Newport, the Taoiseach — who is also TD for Mayo — said the move “is very timely following the launch of Realising our Rural Potential – the Action Plan for Rural Development earlier this week.
“The Newport facility is a real example of innovation taking place in a rural community and creates exciting opportunities both now and in the years ahead.
“Scientists at doctoral and post-doctoral level working at the facility are involved in conducting research with not only national implications, but also international relevance. In other words, it firmly brings what is a rural area into a national and international context.”
The Taoiseach added: “This is a relatively unique research facility in operation since 1955 and I am delighted to see the continued excellent quality research that is taking place following €6 million in funding from research grants.
“I also wish to thank the Marine Institute and their educational partners for their efforts in building a strong international reputation for marine research and innovation."
The Marine Institute says a range of cutting edge research is carried out at its Newport facility including genetics work across several species of salmon, sea bass and pollock, research on the catchment, and climate change.
The facility is attracting multiple Irish Higher Education Institutions and international partners including University College Cork, Queens University, University College Dublin, GMIT, Dundalk Institute of Technology, NUI Galway and the University of Glasgow.
In addition, the Marine Institute is working with Mayo County Council to actively develop new initiatives at the facility to further enhance what the Marine Institute can offer and benefit the local area.
Supporting the announcement, Marine Minister Michael Creed said that his department and the fishing industry consider pollock “a very important commercial species for some elements of the Irish fleet. It is good to see a new project on this species being carried out in Newport, using the scientific expertise that is there."
Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan added: "Ireland has been gaining a reputation in Europe, and internationally for its marine research and innovation, and for driving collaboration in this area. We have a strong marine research community supported by growing national research infrastructure.
“This €6 million investment programme will see the Marine Institute expand its research capacity at its Newport facility and the continued investment in marine research will ensure that Ireland stays at the cutting edge of research and innovation."
In his own welcoming statement, Mayo county manager Peter Hynes said: "This is fantastic news for Mayo and the West region and Mayo County Council looks forward to continuing to work with the Marine Institute to further develop this cutting edge research facility here in Newport."