The value of new construction projects started in Ireland plunged by a fifth in the first three months of 2015 compared to a year ago, new research has found.
The data from the Building Information Index, which looks at building works excluding major public projects such as motorways, shows the value of projects under construction between January and March this year came in at €1.35bn.
That was down more than €330m on the same period in 2014.
The fall in construction starts would seem to confirm fears that uncertainty around the Central Bank's new restrictions on mortgage lending was hurting the construction industry.
The Construction Industry Federation of Ireland has previously said housing construction had "virtually stopped" towards the end of last year.
However, while the value of projects under construction fell, the value of planning applications put in during the quarter rose 42pc to €3.6bn.
The index looks at the monetary value of construction projects in seven sectors: agricultural, commercial & retail, education, industrial, medical, residential and social.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Dublin market, inset, dominates the country and is by far the healthiest region when it comes to planning applications, with the value of applications up 155pc year on year.
However when it comes to actual construction taking place, those rates plunge.
Indeed, Dublin was the second worst performing region, with the value of projects which began construction slumping 28pc year on year. The situation was much worse around Leinster, however. Construction values tumbled 52pc compared to the first three months of this year.
Building Information Ireland managing director Danny O'Shea said that while the increase in the value of planning applications was encouraging, the drop-off in building starts remained a worry.
"The good news for the construction industry is that despite the drop recorded in the value of construction activity in the first quarter of 2015, overall, the data in the Building Information Index shows that the construction sector in Ireland is in recovery.
"The value of construction projects in terms of applications are up 42pc for the first three months of 2015 when compared to the same period in 2014.
"The increase in value of construction projects applying for planning permission has been driven by the rise in the Residential and Commercial & Retail sectors which recorded increases of 91pc and 59pc respectively."
"Other sectors that saw significant increases in the value of construction projects applying for planning permission in the first quarter of 2015 included agricultural and medical," he added.