When: 22 April 2017
Where: Meet at Grand Canal Square, Dublin 2 at 2 pm then march to Government Buildings.
The March for Science Washington DC was organised in response to the scientific policies of President Trump’s administration. On their website, organisers say the march is also “ a celebration of science.”
The Irish March for Science is one of over 400 marches taking place on the same day in 37 countries.
I spoke to science communicator Shaun O’Boyle ,one of the organisers of March for Science Ireland. The interview has been lightly edited and condensed.
Why did you decide to set up the event?
We set up the event a day after they announced it in the US. At the time, the Trump administration had removed information from the EPA and the Department of Agriculture websites. A group of us across Ireland, who work mainly in science and science communication decided to start one in Ireland.
What are the objectives of the event?
It was to show our support internationally for science and an evidence based approach to policy. And as a result of this gathering to hopefully create a community of scientists and people… who will support science, evidence and facts in our policies and national discussions beyond the march as well.
— Jean O' Neill (@alxjea) April 18, 2017
Who would you expect to attend the March for Science Dublin?
We’ve had a lot of positive responses from scientists, first and foremost, because those are the people who are working in this industry which is being misrepresented, particularly in the US at the moment. We have a lot of people who are just interested in science and understand the value of science.
We’ve also had huge student support. Trinity Students Union mandated [this] as a movement that they support officially. A lot of students from other universities and colleges have also shown their support.
— March For Science IE (@ScienceMarchIE) February 27, 2017
Why did you pick this route for the March?
When we were liaising with the Gardai, we wanted the route to be accessible, physically accessible, for as many people as possible. With all the Luas construction work on O’Connell Street and around College Green, the traditional march routes felt difficult for a lot of people. For example, if you’re a wheelchair user trying to join a march from the Garden of Remembrance to Government buildings, that’s a difficult route.
Also, it’s an interesting area for science. You have a lot of technology companies around Grand Canal Square. We pass research buildings in Trinity on our way to Government buildings so it felt appropriate in that sense as well. But it was mainly around accessibility.
One of the criticisms of the Washington March is the view that science by its nature is non-political. What is your take on this?
For me and for us as a group of organisers, it’s absolutely political. Science doesn’t exist as this independent practice. It’s people who do it and people who are affected by it. Especially when you are talking about issues like removing information from websites, climate change denial and the anti-vaccination movement. All that affects people and it’s inherently political when people are involved.
I think the other side of that is that it’s a good moment of us as a community of scientists and science communicators to evaluate who we are and how we are represented. I think science has traditionally had an issue with representation, particularly around women, people of colour and underrepresented minorities. It’s a great moment when the world is going to get a snapshot of who supports science and who scientists are…in a way that’s actually representative and that values diversity.
It’s political however it’s not partisan. We are not aligning ourselves with any political party in Ireland or neither is the group in the US. In that sense, we’re not getting involved in party politics. It’s political in the sense of citizens standing up for themselves.
What would you like to follow from the Irish march?
We’re hoping it will become a movement or initiative beyond the march. We’re working on that at the moment and will announce what that will be soon. For me personally, I would love to see it solidify a community of people who already exist, who already promote, defend and stand up for science in lots of different ways.
— March For Science IE (@ScienceMarchIE) April 18, 2017
Is there anything else you’d like to add/that I should have asked?
We have three featured speakers: Luke O’Neill, Professor of Biochemistry at Trinity College, Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, Assistant Professor in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at UCD and broadcaster and Síle Lane Head of International Campaigns and Policy at Sense About Science. They’ll be speaking briefly at Government buildings to capture the main messages of the march.