A little-known Co Clare company has emerged as the largest Irish-based provider of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the HSE in the battle against Covid-19.
Figures released by the HSE in response to a Freedom of Information request show Ennis project management company EKO Integrated Services has received €102.36m for providing PPE and equipment to the HSE.
The firm, which employs 12 people, received €93.5m for providing PPE and €8.7m for equipment.
The money received by the secondary PPE supplier is more than three times that paid to the next Irish-based company for PPE.
As EKO is a secondary supplier, the vast bulk of the money paid to it by the HSE would be forwarded to the original producer of the PPE in China.
EKO Integrated Services is led by Co Clare man Eugene Keane, whose business background is building houses.
In a statement, the company confirmed that, since April 14, it has organised 14 plane-loads of varying types of gowns and gloves into Ireland, dealing mainly with three different established manufacturers in China. Another 16 flights are included in the HSE order.
A spokeswoman for the company said that, to date, six flights have come into Dublin, including three that were by Etihad Airways.
She said: "Due to the scale of requirements, eight flights have come through Shannon Airport. The value of this order includes all logistics, transportation and handling of PPE products from China to Ireland."
The spokeswoman pointed out that EKO Integrated Services "has built a cultural understanding, business engagement and logistical intelligence with China over the past six years".
She added that the company "is fortunate to have access to factories manufacturing high- quality PPE and to secure large-scale supplies at a time when the world is also knocking on the same doors".
The spokeswoman said the delivery of the high-quality PPE "would not have been possible without the 24/7 high-level attention and management of the HSE procurement team".
She said: "The protection of people's lives, be they frontline workers or the wider public, is the driving force behind the relentless effort to keep ahead of the unprecedented pandemic."