Irish economy continues to grow

Passers-by in O'Connell Street in Dublin
Image caption The Irish Republic has emerged from one of the deepest recessions in Europe

The Irish economy grew by 1.6% in the second quarter, official figures show.

It was the second successive quarter of GDP growth, after a revised 1.9% rise in the first three months of the year.

The figures surprised forecasters, who had expected an increase of just 0.25%. It is the first time since 2006 that the Irish economy has expanded for two quarters in a row.

Analysts said higher investment and exports had compensated for consumer demand, which remained weak.

Figures for Irish gross national product (GNP), which excludes output from foreign multinationals based in the Republic, returned to positive territory, rising by 1.1%, after showing a revised 3% decline in the first three months.

The Irish statistics office had originally issued first-quarter figures showing a 1.3% increase in GDP and a 4.3% decline in GNP.

"The overall story here is one of incremental improvement in the Irish economy," said Ulster Bank chief economist Simon Barry.

"However, it continues to be characterised by a situation where the trading sector is looking buoyant and domestic demand continues to stay weak."

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