240. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Defence further to Parliamentary Question No. 611 of 6 April 2016, wherein he stated there is no arms trade from Ireland to Israel, to clarify his position regarding the Irish purchase of Israeli goods; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 6898/16 asked on 14 Apr 2016)
Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): I refer to the answer to Parliamentary Question Number 611 of 6 April 2016 given by my colleague the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.
I would refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question Number 75 which I answered on 24 November 2015 in which I outlined to the House the position with regard to the procurement of defensive equipment for the Defence Forces by the Department of Defence from Israel.
I have also explained the purpose of such equipment acquisitions which is to afford the greatest possible force protection and operational effectiveness to Irish Defence Forces personnel particularly on overseas service.
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 as Minister for Defence. As the Deputy is aware, 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 do not, therefore, envisage any change to our current procurement practices.