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Irish economy powers ahead at full steam

Ireland is bucking the trend in the eurozone's stalled recovery with evidence building from companies to consumers that the economy is set to grow faster than almost anywhere else in Europe this year.

That bounce was obvious yesterday when new figures showed that manufacturing activity last month hit its highest level since 1999, the last period of sustainable growth in Ireland before a property bubble and subsequent banking and fiscal crises brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy.

But it's not back to Celtic Tiger days by any means.


The size of the economy may match that of 2006 by the end of the year, but will still be off the 2007 pre-crisis high. House prices are still more than 40pc off their peak and 2014 unemployment is likely to be 11pc.

But there are definite signs of a real turnaround from the crisis that forced Ireland into a bailout in late 2010.

Unemployment has fallen for eight straight quarters, upbeat consumers bought more cars in the first seven months of the year than the whole of 2013, and exports are rebounding.

Ireland's economy is now expected to grow by over 3pc this year.

"Given the position we are coming from in Ireland, there has been quite a rebound. We would be confident that growth is going to continue, probably for a number of years," said Kingspan boss Gene Murtagh.

"But it all needs to be put in perspective. We are not talking about a bounce back to the crazy days. I'd say it's more a gradual move back to what you might call normality."

Kingspan's sale of insulation and other building products are growing substantially while orders are also improving, the Cavan-based company said in its half-year results which it unveiled last week.