Irish pro-militarisation group counts international arms manufacturers as members

An Irish pro-militarisation group lobbying government to increase state participation in the arms trade has finally admitted to having four international arms manufacturers among its members. 

Lockheed Martin, Saab, KNDS and Patria are members of the Irish Defence and Security Association (IDSA), which has lobbied government nine times to discuss defence – including an encounter that the Department of Defence failed to record.

A fifth member – which sells communications technology to militaries – recently established an Israeli subsidiary. 

UCD professor Ben Tonra, Azure Forum for Contemporary Security Strategy executive director Caitríona Heinl and former Irish soldier Pat O’Connor established IDSA in September 2021.

The very best international partners (so they say)

IDSA member Lockheed Martin is among the largest weapons manufacturers in the world, with net sales of $17.4 billion in the first quarter of 2024 alone.

A 2019 report published by Amnesty International said the company supplied weapons to the Saudi Arabia-United Arab Emirates coalition responsible for killing tens of thousands of civilians in Yemen. The Israel Defense Forces has used Lockheed Martin weaponry in its current campaign in Gaza, including missiles used to kill children and medics.  

Swedish arms manufacturer Saab, another IDSA member, was implicated in the same Amnesty report for failing to properly assess the potential impact of selling weapons to the Saudi coalition. The company has sold weapons to NATO, the US and Britain.

Military equipment produced by IDSA member Patria has also been used in the Yemen war

IDSA member and arms manufacturer KNDS describes itself as a “European leader in defence”, selling tanks, armoured vehicles and battle management systems.

Rohde and Schwarz meanwhile sells communications technology to militaries around the world. It recently opened a subsidiary in Ra'anana, central Israel, to “establish closer ties between these customers and our R&D departments to develop future-proof solutions,"  

IDSA last met with the Department of Defence in November 2023, according to records released to The Ditch. The department didn’t record minutes of the meeting.

Earlier this year The Ditch reported that the department arranged for IDSA representatives to meet with European Defence Agency chief executive Jiří Šedivý. The department redacted names of who attended in documents released to The Ditch, claiming it constitutes “personal information”. The Ditch has since challenged this decision. 

IDSA declined to comment.

The Ditch editors

The Ditch editors