Sharp increase in export of Irish goods to Israel that could be used for military purposes, report shows

Concerns raised after data shows Ireland exported €70.4 million worth of dual use products to Israel in 2023

A new report has raised concerns about a sharp increase in the export of Irish goods to Israel that could be used for military purposes.

In 2023, Ireland exported €70.4 million worth of dual use products – products that can have either a civilian or military purpose – to Israel, according to the new report published by online campaigning website Uplift and authored by Method Consultants’s Tanya Lalor. This figure represented a significant yearly uptick in dual use exports – in 2022, €10.7 million worth of products were exported to Israel.

Dual-use goods originating within the European Union and destined for a country outside the trading bloc require a licence. In Ireland, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment grants licences following a “holistic” risk assessment in accordance with European Commission criteria, which considers the “respect for human rights in the country of final destination” and “a respect by that country of international humanitarian law”.

Since the commencement of the Israel-Hamas war last year, the Department of Enterprise has granted eight dual-use licenses, worth approximately €32.1 million.


In recent years, the bulk of dual-use exports from Ireland to Israel consisted of “mainstream business ICT products, hardware and software (networking, data storage, cybersecurity etc)”, according to Minister of State Dara Calleary’s written response to a parliamentary question in April.

Dual-use products made up 13 per cent of Ireland’s total exports to Israel in 2023. “This is disproportionately high given the average across other countries is between 0 and 1 per cent,” the report noted.

At the launch of the report in Buswell’s Hotel on Monday, concerns were raised around the transparency of the licensing system. The Government does not publish details of the specific goods exported under dual use licences, or the companies involved in trading.

“We know little about the assessment process, other than, [the Department] describes it as a holistic risk assessment process, undertaken on a case-by-case basis,” Ms Lalor said.

“We don’t know, for example, if there are risk rating [of companies] established, whether the process or the risk level has change since October 7th, and whether there’s follow up enforcement, or audit, of certain countries.

“We don’t even know if the dual use items that are exported, whether the end user is the Israeli government,” she said.

Citing previous reporting by The Irish Times, the report also noted how the Department of Defence has paid at least €8.5 million to Israeli arms manufacturers for military drones and other equipment in the past decade.

About half of this money has been paid to Aeronautics Defence Industries, whose unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have played a central role in Israel’s ongoing assault of Gaza.

The remainder of the Department’s spending went to Haifa-based Elbit Systems, which manufactures lethal drones. Various state funds and financial institutions have divested from the company human rights concerns, including the company’s manufacturing of cluster bombs.

“This is problematic to the Irish State for a number of reasons,” Ms Lalor said. “First of all, under international human rights law, states are obliged to ensure that their actions don’t aid or assist in breaches of international humanitarian law. This includes purchasing of military equipment and supporting companies which contributes to the committing of war crimes.”

In March, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said that the State’s only armaments contract with Israeli weapons manufacturers is worth an annual €295,000, for the support and maintenance of previously purchased drones.

Brian Cuthbert, Uplifts’ director of campaigns, said that the campaigning group were calling for the Government to end all existing military contracts with Israeli companies, for greater transparency around the dual-use export licensing process, and for the divestment from companies operating in the occupied Palestinian territories featured on the UN Human Rights Office’s blacklist.

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist