The Government is to pass a new law that will allow it to screen investments from non-EU countries for the first time.

It is designed to protect Ireland's critical technology and infrastructure from potentially harmful foreign investment.

Investments in technologies identified in law as "sensitive" or "critical" infrastructure such as the health services, electricity grid, military infrastructure, ports and airports will be subject to screening depending on ownership and transaction value criteria.

The current transaction value threshold is set at €2m but this will be reviewed and can be revised by the Government if required.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar has received Government approval to publish the new law.

It will introduce an investment screening mechanism, allowing the minister to evaluate whether an investment poses a threat to Ireland’s security or public order.

It will also give the minister the powers to put a halt to such investment, if he or she deems it necessary.

Leo Varadkar said the new law will be an 'important safeguard'

The bill has been developed partly in response to an EU Investment Screening Regulation which is in turn, a response to the growing concerns amongst member states regarding the purchase of strategic European companies by foreign-owned firms, and in certain cases, State-owned firms.

"We are a small, open economy. We work hard to create an environment which is welcoming to foreign direct investment," Mr Varadkar said.

"However, it would be naïve to think that Ireland is immune to those with more sinister intentions. This new law is to give us the power to intervene if a non-EU actor is seeking to make an investment which would threaten our security or public order."

"I think it's an important safeguard, which I hope we never have to use," he added.

The law sets out the factors that will be considered when applying screening to particular foreign investments such as the threat posed as a result of the target being acquired, the means of control being applied or the risk associated with the acquiring party.

Companies that refuse to co-operate face fines of up to €4m or imprisonment.

There will also be an appeals mechanism.