Ireland to spend €12 million refilling EU arm stockpiles

Act in Support of Ammunition Production designed to restock member states’ armouries depleted by Ukraine war

About €12 million in Irish funds will go towards a €1 billion European Union initiative to replenish the ammunition and missile stockpiles of member states, which have been severely depleted by the war in Ukraine.

The Act in Support of Ammunition Production (Asap) was drafted last year as an urgent measure to increase munitions production in Europe by offering incentives to arms manufacturers. The act is designed to refill the armouries of EU countries who have donated large volumes of military supplies to Ukraine to aid in its defensive war against Russia.

Under the two-year plan, €500 million will be diverted from the EU budget towards incentives for arms companies to increase production, with another €500 million coming in the form of additional voluntary contributions from member states.

The Department of Defence said Asap “is a short-term response aimed at supporting defence production capacity in the EU. Asap does this by incentivising the defence industry through a one-off grant to encourage faster production.”

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Irish officials estimate that Ireland’s contribution will be roughly €12 million over Asap’s lifetime. This will come from existing contributions to the EU budget rather than stand-alone contributions, the Department of Defence said.

“The timely availability of these products is critical for efforts to support Ukraine, as well as our own security in the EU,” a department spokeswoman said.

She said investment in production and joint procurement of ammunition at EU level “will also help to enhance the capabilities of our own Defence Forces”.

Ireland’s participation in the scheme has drawn criticism from some neutrality and human rights campaigners.

Rob Fairmichael of the Irish Network for Nonviolent Action Training and Education (Innate) told an Oireachtas committee last month that, by taking part in Asap, Ireland is paying for lethal ammunition to go to Ukraine through the EU.

The Government previously committed to providing only non-lethal military aid to Ukraine, such as fuel, medical supplies and rations.

In response to queries, the Department of Defence said Ireland’s “direct military assistance to Ukraine continues to consist of non-lethal military support only”.

However, Asap will allow other EU countries to increase their supply of ammunition to Ukraine, particularly artillery shells which are being produced in much larger numbers by Russia.

EU officials hope to increase the bloc’s production to one million rounds a year. It is understood Ireland does not plan on making any additional voluntary contributions outside of the EU budget allocation.

Ireland and the EU’s participation in Asap has also been criticised in a report by the Transnational Institute, an anti-war think tank. It says many of the companies being funded under Asap are also arming Israel and helping to prosecute its war in Gaza which has resulted in 37,000 deaths since October 7th, 2023.

Asap “is indicative of the war-frenzied logic that has taken hold in Brussels, leaving virtually no room for voices for peace. Ireland must be one of those voices,” Niamh Ní Bhriain of the Transnational Institute told an Oireachtas committee last month.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times