One Day in Europe: Ireland
One Day in Europe is a feature of EFG’s monthly newsletter GeoNews. Each month we travel to one of EFG’s national membership associations and discover their main activities and challenges. In June we visited Ireland.
The IGI was formed in 1999 to promote the geosciences in Ireland and to represent the professional interests of its members. Membership is open to all practising geoscientists who meet the required standards of qualification and experience, and the IGI operates with the support of all the major geoscience based technical societies. The mission of the IGI is to promote and advance the science of geology and its professional application in all disciplines and to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas in relation thereto. The IGI requires its Members to uphold, develop and maintain the highest professional standards in the practice of their profession, as described in the Company’s Code of Ethics and Conduct.
EurGeol Marie Fleming PGeo is the President of the Institute of Geologists of Ireland (2015 to 2017). Marie is an Engineering Geologist and has been employed by Arup since 2006 as a Senior Engineering Geologist. She answered our questions:
How many members does the IGI represent? How did your membership evolve over the past few years and in which field of geology do your members mainly work? – The IGI is comprised of over 220 members, across the various membership categories, which include Professional Membership (PGeo), Members in Training (MIT), Retired & Associate Members and Student Members.
The IGI provides career-long support for geoscientists, with a member-in-training category for those working towards the PGeo title, the full PGeo Member category and membership for associate and retired geoscientists. Membership reflects the wide diversity of disciplines within the geosciences including geology, hydrogeology, mineral and petroleum exploration and development, engineering geology, environmental geology, geophysics and geochemistry.
Professional Members (PGeo title holders) make up the largest group within the IGI with 188 title holders. Our membership has continued to grow over the last number of years, although increases in membership can also be reflective of the economic climate.
PGeo title holders work predominantly in the private sector as opposed to the public sector and academia, with a large cohort of our membership working in the environmental, hydrogeological and geotechnical sectors, followed by the natural resources, exploration and mining sectors.
How is your association structured? – The IGI is comprised of a Board of Directors as follows:
Board of Directors:
- President EurGeol Marie Fleming, P.Geo
- Vice-President EurGeol Dr James Hodgson, P.Geo
- Secretary EurGeol Claire Clifford, P.Geo
- Treasurer EurGeol Catherine Buckley, P.Geo.
- Mairead Glennon PGeo
- EurGeol Cian O’Hora PGeo
- EurGeol Dr. Billy O’Keefe PGeo
- EurGeol Dave Blaney PGeo
- EurGeol Dr. Henning Moe PGeo
- EurGeol Vaughan Williams PGeo
Our office is based in Dublin City Centre where we have two part-time administrative staff.
What was your association’s main achievement in 2015? – Since its formation, the IGI has gone from strength to strength and 2015 was no different. This ongoing development can be attributed to the IGI members who voluntarily represent the IGI not only at board level but through representation on various working groups, conferences and committees both nationally and internationally. The membership-led ethos of the IGI has created a close-knit community where there is always an IGI member available for consultation.
What is your focus for 2016? – The focus for IGI in 2016 is to increase our membership amongst student and graduating geologists, in terms of our Member-in-Training and Student membership category. The IGI board recognizes the need for dedicated activities to engage with third level institutions in order to attract more student and early-career stage members. We are attempting to do this in a number of ways.
We recently held a workshop on IGI Career Planning and Mentorship which has been the inception of the IGI’s Mentorship Scheme. From this workshop, the IGI has established a free, voluntary mentorship scheme to foster long-term career development for IGI members of all stages.
The IGI’s website is currently undergoing a major redevelopment to give it a more modern and user-friendly look and feel. The IGI has also increased its social media presence with a LinkedIN Group and a Twitter Page. A social media presence has become an essential aspect of any outward-facing communications strategy, providing a forum for the public dissemination of IGI news in an informal way.
What are currently the main challenges for your association? – Our main challenge is attracting younger members to engage and join the IGI at an early stage in their career.
Do you promote geology towards society? If yes, how? – Yes, the Geology for Society Report is fully accessible on the IGI website and a translation into the Irish language (Geolaíocht don tSochaí) has also been undertaken.
Do you have any particular activities to attract young geoscientists? – This is part of our strategic aim for 2016 as noted above. Along with outreach practices, attendance at IGI courses, seminars and workshops is either free of charge or at a very reduced rate for student and MIT IGI members.
Are you in contact with decision makers at national level? If yes, in which field? – The IGI engages regularly with our national agencies such as the Geological Survey of Ireland, the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland and the Environmental Protection Agency. We are regularly asked to provide input to the production of National Guidelines or Standards Documents.
In 2012 the IGI was instrumental in establishing the Irish Geoscience Network (IGN) to represent all geo-related disciplines and organisations on the island of Ireland, and to provide a forum for discussion, exchange of ideas, and improved communication among the extended geoscience community. The IGN is an informal network of geoscience organisations and learned societies, universities and those involved in various aspects relating to the Earth sciences in Ireland. Geoscience involvement in Ireland ranges from the amateur to the regulator spanning across a wide range of sectors, including respected and long standing bodies such as the Royal Irish Academy committee responsible for Geoscience and the Geological Survey of Ireland. The IGN is currently inaugurating a Lifetime Achievement Award with the first such award to be made in Autumn 2016.
How would you define your association’s relation with EFG? – The IGI continues to be an active National Association Member, as well as a National Licensed Body Member, of the European Federation of Geologists (EFG). We actively encourage our membership to apply for the EurGeol title and as such have the highest per capita title holders of any EFG member.
What would you like the other EFG membership associations to know about IGI? – The IGI would welcome any questions or queries from other associations and would be happy to exchange ideas and thoughts and provide a collaborative approach to mutual issues.
Is there any experience/good practice from MFT that you would like to share with other associations? – The IGI provides a Professional Indemnity (PI) insurance scheme for its members. Working with a broker, the scheme is aimed at self-employed geologists. Together with the broker, the IGI developed a proposal form suited to the activities undertaken by geologists in Ireland and has allowed for a more comprehensive understanding of the associated risks to be insured and often cheaper premiums than offered by other brokers.
A public liability insurance scheme has also been established for IGI and affiliate organisations to cover field trip risks which has proven to be very popular and cost-effective for all involved.
The IGI has had a very successful program of lobbying government departments to require all geological reports to be signed by a professional geologist, in the areas of industrial minerals, mineral exploration and mining, hydrogeology, planning, stock exchange. Similarly we continue to encourage that public tenders requesting geological services request a professionally accredited geoscientist.
What would you like to know about the other EFG membership associations? – We are particularly interested to understand how other membership associations approach issues such as outreach and the promotion of geoscience. We would also be keen to know how other members penetrate the fields of academia and the public sector.
In your opinion, how could EFG improve the knowledge about the activities carried out by other associations? – It would be great to get a regular digest (potentially bi-annually after EFG Council meetings) providing a summary of the activities undertaken by each of the National Associations.
More information about the IGI: http://www.igi.ie/