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THE government's job creation agencies secured more than 18,000 new jobs last year, it has revealed

Enterprise Ireland said the increase was primarily because of the strong export performance of Irish firms.

The agency-supported companies now, directly and indirectly, account for more than 300,000 jobs in the Irish economy. Some 18,033 new jobs were created in 2013, according to the agency's end-of-year statement.

Julie Sinnamon (above), the new Enterprise Ireland chief executive, said the performance was heartening. And Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said the results were brilliant news and were "great testament" to the hard work of the State's businesses.