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Irish economic growth continues to quicken

Irish economic growth continues to quicken
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It was building too many houses that got Ireland into an economic mess and needing a bailout, but the latest figures show a buoyant construction sector was behind strong growth in the economy between July and September.

Gross domestic product expanded by 1.5 percent quarter-on-quarter putting the country on a sounder-than-expected footing as it emerges from an international bailout.

The Central Statistics Office also revised up the second quarter’s growth to 1.0 percent from the previous estimate of 0.4 percent.

That means the economy has expanded for two successive quarters after struggling for the previous 18 months.

Compared to a year earlier GDP rose 1.7 percent.

The jobless rate is down to 12.5 percent of the workforce from last year’s peak of 15.1 percent and consumer spending bounced back from a sharp contraction earlier in the year.

“This certainly suggests that there is a good bit of momentum in the economy and that the consumer is slowly coming back,” said Conall Mac Coille, chief economist at Davy Stockbrokers.

“Construction spending is up 15 percent on the year which is an extraordinarily large rate of expansion.”

Ireland recently became the first euro zone member to successfully complete a European Union/International Monetary Fund bailout programme.

It now requires growth to take hold if it is to meet a target of cutting its high debt pile by a quarter by the end of the decade.

However, Ireland’s trade-dependent economy continued to feel the effects of the downturn in Europe, with exports down by 0.8 percent quarter-on-quarter.