Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Control of Exports Bill 2021: Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Dr. Eamonn Cahill:

I thank the Deputy. First, we have a procedure for assessing the licence applications and an integral part of that is consultation in the first instance with our colleagues in the Department of Foreign Affairs who can clearly give us their perspective as to the situation on the ground in particular destination countries. The types of areas that are of concern in the context as alluded to by the Deputy are the most apparent or obvious regions where there are ongoing conflicts. These include the Middle East, Yemen etc. Areas like that will obviously be to the fore when assessing licence applications in respect of those destinations. We would also consult with our colleagues in the licensing authorities in the 26 other member states as well, because as I mentioned, it is critical that there is a consistently uniform approach internationally on this. There is no use one member state taking one particular view and another state taking another one.

In assessing whether a licence should be granted in respect of some of those sensitive areas, a great amount depends on the nature of the item itself and the potential for it to be used for a non-civilian purpose. In other words, this is the potential for the item to be used directly or for it to be instrumental in conflict, in aggression and in the infringement of human rights and repression of citizens and so forth. It is very hard to give specific examples. Everything, by legislation, must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. As I said, we consult, as appropriate, with experts. Our Department staff are not experts and do not have responsibility in international relations so we would seek input, as appropriate, from the relevant actors.