Economy suffers record collapse
The Irish economy contracted by 7.1pc last year - the largest fall recorded in a single year, official figures revealed today.
The Central Statistics Office said the value of all goods and services suffered the biggest collapse in history but the rate of decline eased slightly as the year went on.
Gross domestic product fell by more than 8pc at the start of the year but that had reduced to about 5pc by the end of the year.
The value of homegrown business, measured by GNP, fell by 11.3pc over the year.
Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said the figures were marginally better than the Budget 2010 estimates of 7.5pc decline in GDP.
"Today's figures show that the annual pace of decline in GDP slowed considerably as the year progressed," he said.
"There was a fall in GDP of 2.3pc between the third and fourth quarters. Excluding the impact of the ongoing decline in new house building, GDP was roughly unchanged in the fourth quarter."
Mr Lenihan said he expected the economy to grow after the summer.
"Today's figures are consistent with my Budget Day projections for this year and, as I outlined, I expect that the economy will resume growing in the second half of the year," the minister said.
"Internationally, in many of our trading partners, there are tentative signs that a modest recovery is under way. The Government have taken actions to ensure the economy is positioned to take advantage of this recovery."