The Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) was established in 2000 by the Minister for Education and Science in response to the need to develop Ireland’s research capacity and skills base in a rapidly-changing global environment where knowledge is key to economic and social growth. With the support of the National Development Plan, the IRCHSS funds cutting-edge research in the humanities, social sciences, business and law with the objective of creating new knowledge and expertise beneficial to Ireland’s economic, social and cultural development. Through its membership of the European Science Foundation, the Research Council is committed to integrating Irish research in European and international networks of expertise. The IRCHSS is National Contact Point for Thematic Priority 7 (Citizens and Governance in a Knowledge-based Society) of Framework Programme 6 (FP6).

The Research Council operates six interlinked Research Schemes. The IRCHSS Government of Ireland Post-Graduate Scholarships and Government of Ireland Post-Doctoral Fellowships fund research at pre- and post-doctoral levels. The Research Council operates three Schemes which offer research opportunities for members of the academic staff of recognised third-level institutions to undertake stated projects (Government of Ireland Senior Research Scholarships; Government of Ireland Research Fellowships; Government of Ireland Senior Research Fellowships). A sixth Scheme operated by the Research Council known as Government of Ireland Research Projects Grants funds world class innovative research undertaken on an extended or group project basis.

The Department of Education and Science has allocated the Research Council a budget of €8 million for 2004.