Exports dive

traditional Irish goods exports plummeted by 9pc in 2009 to €13bn.

The figures were among the worst on record for manufacturers selling on export markets.

The Irish Exporters Association said market conditions were at "breaking point" as total exports of goods and services fell 1pc to €154bn.

"It is hard to overstate the difficulties faced by indigenous exporters in 2009," said IEA chief executive John Whelan.

Exports of food and drink fell 14pc and 21pc respectively and sales of up to €2.5bn were lost as exporters abandoned the market.