DUBLIN:

The Pak Banker - - BUSINESS -

Ire­land's econ­omy ac­cel­er­ated by 1.4 per­cent in the first three months of this year and ex­panded by more than pre­vi­ously thought in 2014, of­fi­cial data showed.

Gross do­mes­tic prod­uct grew by 5.2 per­cent last year, com­pared to a pre­vi­ous es­ti­mate of 4.8 per­cent -- mak­ing Ire­land the fastest grow­ing econ­omy in the Euro­pean Union, the Cen­tral Sta­tis­tics Of­fice said in a state­ment. Ir­ish GDP grew 1.4 per­cent in the first quar­ter of 2015 com­pared to the pre­vi­ous three months, the CSO added. The eu­ro­zone na­tion, which ex­ited an in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial res­cue pro­gramme in 2013, is forecast to be the EU's fastest grow­ing econ­omy again this year.

This week the Ir­ish Cen­tral Bank said growth in 2015 would be 4.1 per­cent, slightly higher than Dublin's fore­casted four per­cent fig­ure. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion ex­pects GDP growth to be only 1.8 per­cent in the EU and 1.5 per­cent in the euro area over­all this year. The Ir­ish econ­omy is now the same size as it was at its peak in 2007. Min­is­ter for Fi­nance Michael Noo­nan said "ro­bust growth" was be­ing recorded across most sec­tors of the econ­omy. "We have laid the foun­da­tions for a solid re­cov­ery. The task now is to build upon the gains we have made in re­cent years," Noo­nan said. An­a­lyst Alan McQuaid of Mer­rion Stock­bro­kers said he ex­pects Ire­land to "easily top the eu­ro­zone growth league ta­ble for the sec­ond-year run­ning." He added: "We would now say that growth is more likely to be in the five-six per­cent range and a pos­i­tive boost for the gov­ern­ment ahead of next year's gen­eral elec­tion."

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