A little known Ennis company has emerged as the largest Irish based provider of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the Health Service Executive in the battle against Covid-19.
Figures released by the HSE in response to a Freedom of Information request show that Ennis project management company, EKO Integrated Services Ltd, has received €102.36m for providing PPE and equipment to the HSE
EKO Integrated Services Ltd - which employs 12 people - received €93.5m for PPE and €8.7m for equipment.
The HSE has paid out a total of €773m for PPE to the middle of May and the two largest payments have gone to overseas firms - the Hong Kong headquartered company, China Resources Pharmaceutical, has been paid €225.12m for PPE while South Korean based Dobu Mask has been paid €102m.
The HSE figures confirm that Aer Lingus has been paid €7.48m for transporting vital shipments of PPE from China.
The monies received by secondary PPE supplier, EKO is more than three times than what was paid to the next Irish based company for PPE.
As EKO is a secondary supplier, the vast bulk of the monies paid by the HSE to EKO would be forwarded onto the producer of the PPE in China.
EKO Integrated Service is led by Clare man, Eugene Keane, whose business background is building houses.
In a statement, the company confirmed that since 14 April it has organised 14 plane loads of varying types of gowns and gloves into Ireland dealing mainly with three different established manufacturers in China and another 16 flights are included in the HSE order.
A spokeswoman for the company stated that to date, six flights have come into Dublin including three that were via Etihad Airways.
"Due to the scale of requirements, eight flights have come through Shannon Airport," she said.
She added that "the value of this order includes all logistics, transportation and handling of PPE product from China to Ireland."
The spokeswoman pointed out that EKO Integrated Services "has built a cultural understanding, business engagement and logistical intelligence with China over the past six years".
She stated: "It has facilitated a range of projects that include infrastructure, energy and housing strengthening its international credibility and reputation."
She pointed out that the company "is fortunate to have access to factories manufacturing high quality PPE and to secure large scale supplies at a time when the world is also knocking on the same doors".
The spokesman stated that the delivery of the high quality PPE "would not have been possible without the 24/7 high level attention and management of the HSE Procurement team.
"The protection of people's lives, be they frontline workers or the wider public, is the driving force behind the relentless effort to keep ahead of the unprecedented pandemic," she said.
"The HSE has said that they are extremely satisfied with the quality and standards of products being delivered by EKO Integrated Services and their agents in China."
Figures show that two other Irish based companies received payments of over €30m from the HSE for PPE - the records show that Lennox Laboratories Ltd received €35.5m and Arco Safety Ltd received €32.4m.