News Irish News

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Irish firms exporting €200m of military-ready equipment

Shane Phelan Public Affairs Editor

MORE than €200m worth of equipment which can be used for military purposes has been exported by Irish companies this year.

New data reveals the Government approved 415 licenses allowing Irish firms sell military hardware and sensitive technologies abroad.

Officials at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation estimated the value of the exports at around €202.7m between January and June.

However, the names of the companies involved and the destinations of the equipment have been kept under wraps, raising concerns over the transparency of Ireland's export controls.

It is understood most of what is being exported are components.

Systems and technology developed and produced in Ireland have in the past been linked to Apache gunship fire- control computers used in Lebanon, and with armoured vehicles used in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fifty export licences for specific military equipment worth €14.1m were approved earlier this year.

A further 365 licences, worth €188.5m, were also issued for "dual use" goods – equipment which can be used for military or for civilian purposes.

The figures show exports remain relatively steady compared with the same period last year, when 434 licences worth €282m were approved.

The figures emerged as part of a half-year update published by the department.

CRITICISED

Traditionally, sales in the first part of the year are much lower than in the second part. For example, exports in the second six months of 2012 were eight times greater than in the first half of the year, bringing the value of Ireland's military and dual use exports up to €2.2bn.

The Government has been criticised by Amnesty International Ireland for not publishing annual reports on military exports, which it is obliged to do under the Control of Exports Act 2008.

Since that became law only one "annual report" has been published, in September 2011, covering 2008 to 2010.

Amnesty executive director Colm O'Gorman told the Irish Independent: "It's good to see the department publishing these statistics but it's absolutely no substitute for the full reports that are meant to be published every year under the Control of Exports Act.

"These summaries give no information about what countries Ireland is exporting arms to, nor on what kind of military technology and equipment is being licensed.

"The Government should publish up to date full reports."

Irish-based companies have previously been linked to the sale of electronic components for military aircraft, including F16 Falcon jets and B-1 bombers, and the development of armoured troop carriers.

However, there is little up to date research in the area and the companies involved are notoriously secretive.

Ireland remains a small player in the international military exports market. US overseas weapons sales totalled €50bn in 2011, while Britain's defence industry exports in 2012 were estimated at €13.6bn.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News