Ireland’s economy grew by 4.8 per cent in 2014 as the recovery strengthened, marginally exceeding the most recent Government forecasts.
At constant market prices, the value of Ireland’s gross domestic product last year – €181.33 billion – eclipsed the €180.5 billion value of GDP in 2008 when the economy crashed.
The growth rate in 2014, Europe’s fastest, indicates that the economy shifted into a different gear after a prolonged slump, with activity in the domestic economy advancing as the multinational sector continued to deliver a strong performance.
The acceleration in GDP growth last year, which far exceeded the 0.2 per cent expansion recorded in 2013, follows an marked increase in domestic demand as consumers resumed spending. While this is on top of continued growth in exports, these new figures also point to a rise in imports.
"Every sector is recording positive growth, without exception," said Michael Connolly of the national accounts division at the Central Statistics Office.
This year’s budget, which was predicated on annualised GDP growth of 4.7 per cent in 2014, assumes the economy will expand by 3.9 per cent in 2015.
Data released this morning in Dublin by the CSO states that gross national product (GNP), which strips out the impact of multinational profit flows, grew last year by5.2 per cent, compared with 3.3 per cent GNP growth in 2013.
It is GDP figures which form the basis for key budget calculations. According to the CSO, GDP grew 0.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to the previous three month period.
“The value added of agriculture rose by 10 per cent in volume terms in 2014 compared to 2013. The distribution, transport, software and communications sector increased by 8 per cent, and other services by 3.4 per cent,” said the CSO.
“There was an overall increase of 1.5 per cent in industry, (within which building and construction recorded a 6.9 per cent increase in real terms). Public administration and defence recorded an annual increase of 1.1 per cent.”
As the economic recovery broadens, these latest figures follow a long line of upgrades in growth forecasts for the Irish economy in 2014 and 2015.
Compared with the fourth quarter of 2013, GDP grew 4.1 per cent in same period in 2014. The rate of annualised growth was the same in the third quarter of 2014, but less than the 7.2 per cent rate of annualised in the second quarter .
It was in the second-quarter of 2014 which marked a turning point in Ireland’s recovery, as the economy was shown to be expanding at the fastest rate since the early 2000s.