As Ireland's "Celtic Tiger" economy whimpered its last, funding to the country's "Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions" (PRTLI) was "paused" by the government last November, a move strongly criticized by academics and researchers.

However, nearly a year later, the Higher Education Authority, which administers the government's flagship research program has told The Scientist that the pause may soon be lifted.

"Discussions are taking place at the highest level of government on the matter, and it is hoped that the issue of the pause will be resolved within the next month when the estimates for 2004 [outline of public expenditure for 2004] will be published," a spokesman said.

The PRTLI was set up under the government's National Development Plan in 2001 with assistance from the European Regional Development Fund. It promised investment of over €140 million in research until at least 2006.

Since the halt in funds...

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