Third-level institutions urged to reconsider involvement in research projects with Israel

by dessiefulcher

Third-level institutions have been urged to “take a stand” and reconsider involvement in multi-million euro research projects with Israel.

University College Cork (UCC) is among 10 Irish third-level institutions currently taking party in projects with Israeli government departments, universities, and private companies.

Since the beginning of Horizon Europe, the EU’s largest research an innovation programme, 27 consortia-type projects have had at least one Irish higher education institute and one Israeli participant.

UCC has been involved in eight projects that Israeli entities have also taken part in, including a €33m health project with the Israeli ministry of health and another €20.9m project with the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Dublin City University (DCU) confirmed it is currently taking part in one active Horizon 2020 research project focused on nano-particles in the steel industry, where there is also an Israeli partner. 

DCU is one of 37 partners, alongside the Israel Institute of Technology with an end date of March.

A spokesperson for University of Galway confirmed that it is currently involved in nine Horizon-funded research projects which have partners in Israel. 

Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, and Maynooth University have also been involved in such projects.

The overall Horizon programme has a budget of €95.5bn over its seven-year lifetime from 2021 to 2027 and Israel is one of 18 ‘associated countries’ that have been chosen to participate along with all EU countries.

Sinn Féin TD Mairéad Farrell has said there is now a need for a “moral compass” in relation to involvement with projects that also have an Israeli input and the Government which should use its power at EU level.

“It’s not about the individuals that they’re dealing with in Israel. 

“It’s about the institutions and indeed what their government does in participating in this genocide.”

Citing the actions Irish people and institutions took in “leading the way” against Apartheid South Africa she said: “I would like them to take a stand for the people of Gaza.”

She added: “Obviously, the minister wouldn’t have the power to direct universities to break ties, universities are autonomous institutions.”

Responding to a parliamentary questions tabled by Ms Farrell, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said Israel signed a Horizon Europe Association Agreement with the European Commission in December 2021, allowing full participation in the programme.

“Irish Higher Education Institutions are autonomous and join consortia consistent with their research objectives.

“Since the beginning of Horizon Europe, 27 consortia-type projects have had at least one Irish Higher Education Institute and one Israeli participant.

“The smallest of these projects has eight members situated across the European region, while the largest has 159.”

It comes as student groups and other organisations protested outside the Dáil on Wednesday ahead of a vote which called on the Government to make a submission in the genocide case being mounted against Israel.

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