A NEW collaborative effort between academics and the voluntary sector will see research carried out in Limerick on areas as diverse as preventing falls among MS sufferers and homophobia in schools.
The Irish Research Council (IRC) has announced that a number of Limerick-based projects will receive funding under the new partnership between The Wheel - an umbrella group for charities and the community and voluntary sectors - and third level institutions including the University of Limerick.
The initiative has been announced by Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan, who said: “effective engagement between higher education and the community and voluntary sector is a key objective of the national strategy for higher education”.
“This partnership between the IRC and The Wheel will facilitate researchers to exchange knowledge and spread their work beyond academia.
“At the same time, it will allow community and voluntary groups to access leading research expertise and to collaborate on cutting-edge research projects.
“Ultimately, this will increase awareness of the benefit of research on society and on our quality of life. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of the projects funded under this initiative,” she said.
Some €400,000 in funding has been made available by the IRC in the first year and a number of Limerick projects are to benefit immediately.
This will see researchers from UL work with organisations such as Business to Arts, MS Ireland, Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) and Limerick Prison.
UL’s Dr Annmarie Ryan is working with Business to Arts and their the research will examine the role of Cities of Culture in building a culture of arts sponsorship and corporate engagement at a regional level.
MS Ireland’s research involves fall prevention interventions, while GLEN will examine policies and resources related to homophobia in primary schools.
TENI’s project will monitor hate crime while the Limerick Prison Project concerns families and parenting in the context of imprisonment.
Dr Eucharia Meehan, director of the IRC, commented that: “the partnership between the Irish Research Council and The Wheel is a new departure for the research sector. It provides a targeted research funding mechanism which includes community and voluntary groups.
“The research findings from these projects will not only benefit grassroots communities, and inspire the work of researchers, but will also inform national policymaking for civic society,” she said.