Business news

Republic's economy growing at fastest rate since 2000

Finance Minister Michael Noonan claimed the revival was a direct consequence of the policies pursued by the outgoing government
Ed Carty, PA

IRELAND'S economy has grown at the fastest rate since 2000.

The 7.8 per cent boost to all business done in the country last year outstrips every other European country and is built mainly around continued demand for exports and resurgent high street spending.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan claimed the revival was a direct consequence of the policies pursued by the outgoing government, which was hammered in last month's election, and people's sacrifices.

"The government will continue to work so that the benefits of economic recovery are more widely distributed and that the unemployment rate is reduced further," he said.

The figures, more associated with boom times, were recorded by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and showed all sectors of the economy were growing.

Even when the profits of the multinationals are stripped out the report was positive with Irish owned businesses booking growth of 5.7 per cent over the course of last year.

There was also a surge in the amount of trade done in the last three months of the year - 2.9 per cent growth in Gross Domestic Product.

The value of industry rose by 13.7 per cent, with manufacturing recording 14.2 per cent growth, building and construction 8.8 per cent and the distribution, transport, software and communications sector increasing by 8.7 per cent.

Agriculture improved by 6.4 per cent and other services by 4.3 per cent.

The CSO pointed to an additional €10 billion spend last year on what it classed as "intangibles" and also highlighted the strong demand for cars.

Business lobby group Ibec said the report highlighted strong domestic economic recovery - the best year since recession hit in 2007.

The group's economist Gerard Brady said: "The growth in domestic demand represents a crucial turning point for the Irish economy and will boost household living standards across the board."

Ibec claimed the economic recovery was reaching "every corner of the country", a message at odds with how the election played out.

But Mr Brady accepted: "The key challenge for the next government will be building the kind of economic resilience, which we have seen in the Dublin economy, into the regions.

"This can only be achieved by investing much more ambitiously in infrastructure in key centres and growing the exporting enterprise base in the regions."

Mr Noonan added: "Economic growth is now more broadly balanced. Domestic spending increased strongly once again, reflecting the ongoing improvement in confidence. This is very important as the domestic sectors are both jobs and tax intensive. The exporting sectors also recorded very strong growth, with exports of goods and services almost 14 per cent higher in 2015 compared to 2014."

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