THE revelation that parts made at Tillotson's plant in Tralee ended up in an Iranian remotely piloted drone that was used in illegal military operations against civilians in Sudan has focused attention on Irish companies and their involvement in the defence sector.
In fact three other Kerry-based companies have developed links with the military market in recent years.
A recent Channel 4 documentary showed that a drone shot down in Sudan after taking part in several government operations against civilians and rebels contained a carburettor apparently made in Tillotson's Tralee plant.
While Tillotson, who comply with all international regulations on the sale of their goods, were not responsible for the component's eventual use and had no part in its onward sale to the Iranian company which makes the drones, the news that Irish made components are seemingly being used in such weapons has caused concern among some human rights groups here.
There are strict restrictions on the manufacture of weapons and arms in Ireland, companies exporting so called 'dual use' products, which can be used for both civil and military purposes, are free to market their goods to militaries worldwide.
The three Kerry companies that have become involved in this lucrative market in recent years are Tralee based firms Reamda, Altobridge and Pulse Learning. The companies have proved remarkably successful, are rapidly growing and have expanded their business to include providing services to various defence and security forces.
Altobridge, which specialises in wireless and satellite communications systems, has been marketing their RCC Tactical Cellular/satellite Communications system to defence, security and emergency services in the US and Canada.
Pulse Learning, which is also headquartered at Kerry Technology Park is also selling its wares to military and security services.
The firm has developed a package called Pulsedefence that, according to the promotional material, provides "accurate, complete and clear training for soldiers, peacekeepers and warfighters." Pulse Learning has supplied the software, to military, government and aerospace clients in the UK, US and Canada.
Reamda an electronics company which is based in the Monavalley Industrial Estate in Tralee provides upgrades and spare parts for HOBO robots that are used by the Irish defence forces and other international armed forces for bomb disposal and other anti terrorist operations.