Economic growth of 4.8pc last year is the fastest since before the crash
Figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show the Government's forecast of 4.7pc growth for last year has been beaten.
The Irish economy is the fastest growing in Europe.
Preliminary estimates indicate that gross domestic product, a standard measure of the size of the economy increased by 4.8pc for the year 2014. For the third successive year, gross national product, a second measure, showed an increase over the previous year, at a rate of 5.2pc.
That 4.8pc official growth is fractionally better that the 4.7pc figure forecast by Finance Mister Michael Noonan in the Budget.
The Central Statistics Office also said that the economy grew by 4.1pc in the final three months of last year compared to the same period in 2013.
The CSO said both domestic demand and net exports contributed to growth in 2014.
Alan McQuaid of Merrion Stockbrokers said that the Irish economy had performed strongly last year, and that the early indications were that 2015 will be another positive year, topping the Eurozone growth table again.
“Ireland has benefited from its close trading ties with the US and UK, two of the strongest performers on the world stage in the past twelve months,” Mr McQuaid said.
“Competitiveness gains made against the rest of Euroland in recent years have also helped. But the most encouraging aspect is the pick-up in domestic demand, which augurs well for 2015.
“The sharp fall in the euro will be a huge plus for Ireland too. Taking all the relevant factors into consideration, it now looks like growth will be 4pc plus again this year.”
Mr Noonan said economic growth was now broadly balanced and he said updated forecasts from the Government will be published next month.
“The turnaround that we are seeing in the Irish economy is a direct consequence of the policies pursued by this Government and the sacrifices made by the Irish people,” the minister said.
“All sectors of the economy grew last year, including agri-food, tourism, retail, construction, as well as business and financial services. We will now build on this recovery by continuing to introduce measures that drive growth and create jobs.”
The minister also said that he has instructed the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) to press ahead with the early repayment of the final €5.5bn of International Monetary Fund loans that we secured agreement to repay.
“The remaining €1.6bn in proceeds from the sale of the Bank of Ireland preference shares and the €400 million from the repayment of the Permanent TSB contingent capital instrument will be used to part-finance this repayment.
“This early repayment of the majority of IMF loans will deliver savings of over €1.5bn over the lifetime of the loans.”