Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton has defended the Government decision to abolish the office of Chief Scientific Adviser.

Mr Bruton said the decision to merge the functions of the office with that of the Director General of Science Foundation Ireland would lead to an improvement in the quality of scientific advice available to Government.

He said in his view the move represented "an enhancement", and was the best decision at a time of scarce resources.

Minister of State for Research Sean Sherlock said he thought the decision was entirely appropriate.

There was criticism from leading scientists at the decision, saying they believe it would lead to conflicts of interest.

The head of Science Foundation Ireland, Professor Mark Ferguson, has said he is conscious of the potential for a conflict of interest as he assumes the functions of the previously stand-alone role of Government Chief Scientific Adviser.

Prof Ferguson said there was always a potential for such a conflict in any role.

However he said this would be mitigated by his intention to draw on a network of scientific expertise, both in Ireland and internationally, when providing advice to government on any particular topic.