A multimillion-euro deal to bring medical ventilators into Ireland saw the HSE pay cash up front a month in advance to a company with no trading history.

The HSE paid Roqu Media International Limited, a Dublin-based company with a history of managing festivals in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Bulgaria, €14.1 million for the supply of intensive care Boaray and Eternity ventilators "on or about March 23" of this year as Ireland faced into its first lockdown.

Comment: Hardly a company with experience in the field.

There was huge demand for ventilators from health services across the world as a key treatment for the most vulnerable Covid-19 patients.

Comment: There was a huge demand for ventilators by health officials based on projections of soaring coronavirus patients, but these patients never materialized because the models were deadly wrong, and so, just like the emergency Nightingale hospitals, they were barely used: The ventilator shortage that wasn't

In an invitation to the media to attend the arrival of the "fourth and final" delivery into Shannon on April 25, Roqu said that 100 ventilators had already arrived into Ireland, with a further 100 due on the impending flight.

That transport was eventually cancelled "due to technical difficulties with the flight", according to Roqu.

The ventilators that did arrive into Ireland were never deployed in clinical settings due to "issues with the quality of the delivered products", the HSE said.

Questions remain

However, questions remain regarding a "refund" apparently given by Roqu to the HSE.

The HSE said that while €14.1m was initially paid to Roqu, it subsequently received a refund of just over €2.7m after its original purchase order was "adjusted/reduced".

This figure is noted on the official invoice supplied to the HSE regarding the contract.

Robert Quirke, owner of Roqu, said a refund had been offered by his company to the HSE and in fact totalled €3.8m as it had "become apparent to the HSE that the quantity of ventilators required was less than initially expected, which was good".

He said that at the time Roqu had brought 72 ventilators into Ireland, as opposed to the 200 mentioned in its April media invite.

Asked why the refund mentioned on the HSE's invoice from Roqu did not match the €3.8m, Mr Quirke said "the original invoice has since been credited and rebilled for a lower amount of €10.3m".

At the time of the contract, Roqu Media International Limited had current assets of just €122 and no trading history, per its 2018 accounts.

Comment: The government entrusted the health of its citizen in a company with no assets, no trading history, as well as with absolutely no experience in the medical field.

The HSE said it is no longer utilising the service of Roqu.

A spokesperson said it is "in continuing discussion with Roqu with a view to resolving all issues".