By Conor Ryan, Investigative Correspondent - Thursday, September 22, 2011
IRISH-BASED companies have been authorised to export over €10.7 billion worth of military related goods in the last three years.
Almost €90 million of this was equipment specifically designated for ammunition and arms’ purposes, and included guns and weapons sensors.
The remaining €10.6bn related to products that were so hi-tech the international community requires strict controls on their sale. These rules were developed in case the materials fell into the wrong hands.
These so-called dual-use products were primarily electronic and telecommunications materials, which can be used for day-to-day purposes but have the potential for development by defence manufacturers.
The export figures are contained in the first national report under the Control of Export Act 2008, which requires the Government to document the country’s involvement in the international arms trade. This covered the licensing regime for first three years of the act.
Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton said the information needed to be transparent.
"The human rights, security and regional stability concerns which underpin export controls are of paramount importance to my department," he said.
"The report marks a new chapter in communicating with civil society and others. What we do affects others, including concerned members of civil society and those who earn a living from international trade."
The figures for 2010, when €1.5bn worth of military components were licensed to be sold, represented a significant fall on 2009, when licences were given for €6.7bn worth of deals.
The department said a relatively small number of operators are licensed to export military-only equipment from Ireland. In total, they were given 98 approvals to carry out business internationally.
Britain, Germany, the US, the Netherlands and Kuwait were the most valuable destination countries for Irish military products last year.
In the broader "dual-use" category, the number of licenses issued in 2010 jumped from 345 to 715, despite a significant fall in the value of these deals.
The department said the change was largely due to one unnamed company which dealt in multiple international shipments.
Several licences relate to goods that never arrive in Ireland but are owned and controlled by firms based here.
In the period 2008-2010 Irish-based companies were licensed to trade with countries including Libya, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Lebanon.
In 2009, Egypt was listed as the marketplace for 13 contracts worth over €100,000 each.
The vast bulk of deals involved Britain, the US, Germany and China.