Michael O’Farrell, political reporter at the Irish Examiner, lambasts Barry McSweeney and the Irish Times for failing deal with the hard questions being asked about McSweeney’s qualifications, or lack thereof. He gets it right in my view. Myself and Fiona have been on this story pretty much since it started, but it seems no matter how much media coverage the story gets McSweeney still believes his position to be tenable. Fiona gets a mention at the end of the piece, well deserved praise indeed.
It is not a tenable position for McSweeney by any means. As O’Farrell notes:
Contacted by the Irish Examiner, Ed Walsh agreed to make a statement.
In a few short paragraphs Professor Walsh made it clear that failure to address this issue quickly would quickly see Ireland’s hard-fought-for reputation among researchers world- wide plummet.
“This is not a matter that is improved by delay – it really needs to be addressed fairly promptly otherwise it becomes a cause of international embarrassment to everyone,” he would later tell RTÉ.
Through his intervention Professor Walsh has all but forced the fate of Dr McSweeney who will likely have vacated his office by this time next week.
Professor Walsh chaired the top level International Government Commission of experts which first recommended the establishment of the office of chief scientific adviser.
In addition the former University of Limerick president and chairman of the Science Council is one of Ireland’s most respected academics.
Damning criticism from the very man who is responsible for seeing his job created in the first place now renders Dr McSweeney’s job untenable.
It is a shame that the only academic brave enough to come forward – until now – was Fiona De Londras, from Dublin’s Griffith College.
She, and in turn Ed Walsh displayed the kind of bravery, integrity and force of conviction so lacking in all the other protagonists this scandal has touched this past month.