35. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will report on the contracts for purchase of arms by his Department, whether one-off or continual, to be used by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20434/18 asked on 10 May 2018)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The primary focus for the procurement of defensive equipment, including weaponry and ammunition by the Department of Defence is to maintain the capability of the 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 all missions. Equipment priorities for the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps continue to be considered in the context of the White Paper on Defence as part of the capability development and equipment planning process.

The procurement of goods and services by the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces is carried out in accordance with public procurement policy and national and European Union law. Procurement procedures in the Defence Organisation are kept under constant review to ensure they are in line with best practice, guidance and the legal framework.

Public procurement rules are adapted to the specificities of defence procurements, which can be particularly complex and sensitive. Procurement of defence and security equipment such as weapons, ammunition types and other material for defence purposes is carried out in accordance with EU Directive 2009/81/EC. This is a specific Directive relating to the award of contracts dealing with the defence and security area which provides rules that enhance transparency and openness in defence markets while also ensuring that individual countries’ security concerns are protected. This Directive was transposed into Irish law by way of implementing S.I. No. 62 of 2012.

Procedures are in place in the Defence Organisation to provide a forum for oversight and approval of expenditure proposals on equipment. In this regard a High Level Planning and Procurement Group (HLPPG) comprising of senior civil and military management of the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces, and an associated Working Group, meet on a monthly basis to discuss all relevant procurement matters.

I am advised that procurement procedures in the Defence Organisation are kept under constant review to support good procurement practice, project management and good corporate governance, and to ensure that tender processes for the award of contracts are carried out in an appropriate manner.