Thursday, 7 November 2019
Department of Defence
Defence Forces Expenditure
13. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the amount spent by the Defence Forces on Israeli-manufactured equipment and services in each of the years 2010 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45764/19]
27. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the Defence Forces purchase from Israeli arms suppliers; his views on whether it is ethical to purchase weapons that have a connection to states engaged in activities in violation of international law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45090/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 13 and 27 together.
The primary focus for the procurement of defensive equipment by the Department of Defence is to maintain the capability of the Irish Defence Forces to fulfil the roles as assigned by Government. This includes undertaking overseas Peace Support Operations, and in this regard to afford the greatest possible force protection to Irish troops whilst on such missions.
The principle of competitive tendering for Government contracts is used by the Department of Defence for the acquisition of defensive equipment for the Defence Forces. Central to those procedures is the requirement to allow fair competition between suppliers through the submission of tenders following advertising of the tender competition on the e-tenders site and on the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), where appropriate, in line with the EU procurement Directives, including the Defence and Security Directive.
Such tender competitions are open to any company or country in accordance with the terms of all UN, OSCE and EU arms embargoes or restrictions. There are no such restrictions or embargoes in place on Israeli companies.
In following these guidelines and codes, the Department of Defence must deal impartially with all companies that are entitled to enter its procurement competitions and must evaluate tenders on the basis of objective criteria.
I am advised that my Department has not purchased any weapons from Israel. However, defensive equipment has been acquired from Israeli companies by way of competitive tendering, the main procurements have been Unmanned Aerial Vehicles operated by the Defence Forces, Ground Surveillance Radar Equipment and an upgrade to the Army's existing Fire Control and Command Systems. The primary purpose of such equipment is to provide force protection for our Defence Force personnel whilst serving on overseas missions.
The value of defensive equipment procured from Israeli based firms and companies since 2010 is €14.1 million, inclusive of VAT. Details for each of the years will are as follows:
|Year||Expenditure, inclusive of VAT|
The matter of barring Israeli companies from entering tender competitions for the provision of military goods would be akin to Ireland unilaterally placing an embargo on such goods from Israel and this raises, inter alia, serious implications for Irish foreign policy which are outside my remit.
Trade policy and market access are largely EU competencies and any restriction or ban on imports from any particular country would have to be concerted at EU level.
The manner in which the Department of Defence procures both goods and services remains consistent with international best practice and is in line with EU and UN decisions on trade embargoes. I am satisfied that this is the appropriate way in which to continue, rather than Ireland taking any unilateral decision to target individual companies or countries in that respect.