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 website 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 2009/81/EC.
Such tender competitions are open to any company or country subject to the terms of all UN, OSCE and EU arms embargoes or restrictions.
I am advised by my Department that defensive equipment has been acquired from Israeli companies by way of competitive tendering. The main procurements in recent years 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, in particular, when serving on overseas missions.
The value of defensive equipment and services procured from Israeli based firms and companies in 2020 to date is €546,431.64 inclusive of VAT. This expenditure is comprised of €244,110.96 inclusive of VAT to Aeronautics Defence Systems for new batteries and maintenance of the Defence Forces existing fleet of unarmed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles; €200,170.68 inclusive of VAT to Elbit Systems for an upgrade to the Army's existing Fire Control and Command Systems, and €102,150 inclusive of VAT also to Elbit Systems for maintenance services for the Defence Forces Ground Surveillance Radar Equipment.
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.