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Defence contracts worth $7m signed with US

Irish-based companies entered contracts worth more than $7 million with the United States defence department in the past decade, figures reveal.

The contracts were awarded to companies across the State including one to a firm based in Ratoath, Co Meath, to supply “forensic equipment”, including cameras, lenses, microscopes and X-ray scanners to the US army and were delivered to Iraq.

Other goods and services provided by Irish firms included research and development contracts, the provision of freight services and the supply of forensic and medical equipment and secure communications equipment.

A database containing information on contracts entered by the US governmentprovide detail on over $11 million in contracts agreed with Irish companies in the past decade, with almost two-thirds of that amount relating to contracts with the US department of defence.

The database lists 28 Irish-based companies which received $7,037,741 for goods and services provided between April 2005 and March 2014.

The most valuable contract was between Dublin City University and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which was worth $2.7 million. This was for the development of therapies in relation to botulism.

A request lodged by The Irish Times under the US Freedom of Information Act found the contract related to the prevention of neurological damage and possible death caused by the toxin produced by the anaerobic bacteria, Clostridium botulinum, the toxin involved in botulism, which has potential for misuse as bio-warfare agent.

The second-highest value contract was awarded to d’Amico Tankers Limited, an arm of one of the world’s largest shipping companies, the Italian d’Amico Group, which has offices on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin.

The company entered into three contracts, worth $1.64 million, with the US navy in 2013. One of the contracts related to “deep sea freight transportation” and was worth $883,000. This consisted of “charter hire” worth $823,000 for the transport of 200,000 barrels of “clean petroleum products” from Greece to the UK in early 2013.

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US army

The Ratoath company DG Total Engineering Solutions supplied goods worth almost $530,000 to the US army in 2008. According to the contract description, it provided laboratory and “forensic equipment” including cameras, lenses, microscopes and X-ray scanners delivered to Abu Ghraib warehouse near Baghdad in Iraq.

A number of companies supplied medical equipment to the US army, including AMO Ireland which received almost $395,000 in army contracts for ophthalmic surgical equipment, supplies and maintenance while Haptica Limited, a now-dissolved company provided almost $393,000 worth of laparoscopy equipment which is used for abdominal examinations.

The database also contains details of army contracts worth almost $150,000 with the Tyndall National Institute in Cork for research and development in biotechnology. The contracts, dated between 2009 and 2010, relate to cell-based water toxicity evaluations (toxichip cytotoxicity screening of water).

The institute was the only company with the ability to fulfil the contract requirements due to the “emerging technology and complexity of the studies to be conducted”.

Communications solutions

Klas Limited, the Irish arm of the US-based Klas Telecom, recorded almost $77,000 in contracts with the US army, navy and air forces between 2009 and 2012 mainly under the category of communications security equipment. It is located in Kilmainham, Dublin.

According to its website, the company engineers and designs tactical communications solutions allowing its clients to communicate securely in military environments and has been developing connectivity equipment for US and international federal governments for more than 22 years.

Meanwhile, the Cork-based company JB Roche (MFG) Ltd received over $72,000 in 2007 for the provision of an inflatable maintenance shelter for the US air force.

Co Clare-based Western Avionics provided equipment including instruments for measuring and testing electrical signals to both the US army and air force, with a combined worth of over $54,000.

The Irish Times was unable to attain a detailed contract file from the air force under FOIA for this contract as the file, which related to a 2007 contract, was destroyed after three years, in line with the agency’s procedures.

According to its website, Western Avionics designs and manufactures simulation, test and analysis hardware modules which it provides to companies including Lockheed Martin and Nasa.

Distribution rights

The now dissolved Alliance Atlantis International Distribution Ltd accounted for almost $428,000 in contracts between 2006 and 2007.

According to the Companies Registration Office, the main activities of this company, which has been dormant since 2008, was the acquisition of distribution rights internationally for film and television companies.

The payments related to video distribution, according to notes contained in the US procurement database.

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Departments other than defence paid Irish companies $4 million

Irish companies earned more than $4 million from other US government departments over the past decade, the database indicates.

More than $1.2 million of this related to travel and accommodation arrangements for the visit of the then US president George W Bush in 2004.

The largest of these contracts, worth over $800,000, was with Larry Moran Chauffeur Service, a company contracted by the US embassy in Dublin.

About $727,000 of the total sum was to meet transport requirements for White House staff, the US secretary of state and staff, secret service personnel and diplomacy staff during the presidential visit in 2004.

A further payment of $30,695 related to the transport requirements for the former president Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, who visited Ireland and Northern Ireland in August of the same year.

Secret service

A further contract covers the visit later that year of Adm James Loy who, in 2004, was the deputy secretary of homeland security. This payment, for just under $30,000, was funded by the US secret service.

Accommodation contracts related to the 2004 “Potus” (president of the United States) trip included contracts with the Lynch Hotel group worth over $400,000, as well as payments made to the West County Hotel in Ennis, totalling almost $95,000, and Fitzpatrick’s Hotel in Bunratty, the cost of which came to $29,790.

Economic crimes adviser

Contracts of more than $420,000 are listed for William G Gilligan, a Cork-based financial investigations consultant who was employed on numerous occasions as an economic crimes adviser to the US department of treasury between 2007 and 2013.

According to his LinkedIn page, in this role Mr Gilligan specialised in investigating money-laundering, terrorist financing, tax fraud, economic crime and anti-corruption issues.

Trinity Biotech, a company based in Bray, Co Wicklow, recorded almost $260,000 of contracts with the US government between 2004 and 2007. Three of the four contracts came under the department of state budget and were contracted by the US embassy in Harare.

According to its website, Trinity Biotech specialises in the development, manufacture and marketing of diagnostic test kits.

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Procurement system: Database online

The US Government’s Federal Procurement System is an online database which contains information on contracts entered into by the US government including the vendor’s name and address, the US government department to which the work was contracted and the contracting agency.

For example the US Army was the contracting agency in a number of instances detailed in this article.

The Irish Times identified all contracts entered into by Irish-based companies with the US department of defence, the first of which was dated April 2005.

Wherever possible, the Irish Times subsequently submitted requests under the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for detailed files relating to these contracts (although in one instance it was not possible to identify the relevant FOIA body).

A number of FOIA requests were subsequently granted, however a small number were refused on the basis that the documents could not be found or had been destroyed after a set period of time due to individual agencies’ procedures.

A small number of FOIA requests remained outstanding at the time of publication.

Words Pamela Duncan, Graphics Paul Scott