The economy of the Republic of Ireland is a knowledge economy, focused on services into high-tech, life sciences and financial services industries. Ireland is an open economy (6th on the Index of Economic Freedom), and ranks first for high-value foreign direct investment (FDI) flows. In the global GDP per capita tables, Ireland ranks 5th of 187 in the IMF table and 6th of 175 in the World Bank ranking.
Following a period of continuous growth at an annual level from 1984–2007, the post-2008 Irish financial crisis severely affected the economy, compounding domestic economic problems related to the collapse of the Irish property bubble. Ireland first experienced a short technical recession from Q2-Q3 2007, followed by a recession from Q1 2008 – Q4 2009. In April 2010, this hard economic climate was reported to have led to resumed emigration.
After a year with stagnant economic activity in 2010, Irish real GDP rose by 2.2% in 2011 and 0.2% in 2012 - mainly driven by improvements in the export sector. The European sovereign-debt crisis caused a new Irish recession starting in Q3 2012, which was still ongoing as of Q2 2013. By mid-2013 the European Commission's economic forecast for Ireland predicted its growth rates would return to a positive 1.1% in 2013 and 2.2% in 2014. An apparent, but illusory, 2015 GDP growth of 26.3% (GNP of 18.7%) was officially ascribed to tax inversion practices by multinationals accessing Ireland's low tax rates. This apparent growth in GDP, dubbed by some as 'leprechaun economics', was shown to be driven by Apple restructuring their double Irish subsidiary in January 2015. The distortion of Ireland's economic statistics (including GNI, GNP and GDP) by the tax practices of some multinationals, led the Central Bank of Ireland to propose an alternative measure (modified GNI or GNI*) to more accurately reflect the "true" state of the economy.
Foreign-owned multinationals continue to contribute significantly to Ireland's economy, making up 14 of the top 20 Irish firms (by turnover), employing 23% of the private sector labour-force, and paying 80% of business taxes.
|Economy of Ireland|
Dublin city centre
|EU, WTO and OECD|
|GDP||$372.695 billion (nominal, 2018 est.) $385.851 billion (PPP, 2018 est.)|
|GDP rank||32nd (nominal, 2018) 48th (PPP, 2018)|
|4.9% (2016) 7.2% (2017)|
6.8% (2018e) 4.1% (2019e)
GDP per capita
|$76,098 (nominal, 2018 est.) $78,784 (PPP, 2018 est.)|
GDP per capita rank
|4th (nominal, 2018) 5th (PPP, 2018)|
GDP by sector
|agriculture: 1.2% industry: 38.6% services: 60.2% (2017 est.)|
|1.200% (2019 est.) 0.716% (2018) 0.267% (2017)|
Population below poverty line
|8.0% (consistent poverty in 2014) Poverty line in 2015: €10,926/year or ~$950/month 8.2% (2013 est.)|
|30.6 medium (2017, Eurostat)|
|0.938 very high (2017) (4th)|
|2.226 million (2017 est.)|
74.1% employment (2018)
Labour force by occupation
|agriculture: 5% industry: 11% services: 84% (2015 est.)|
|Unemployment||4.4% (May 2019)|
Average gross salary
|€3,300 / $3,694 monthly (2018)|
|€2,564 / $2,870 monthly (2018)|
|Exports||$219.7 billion (2017 est.)|
|machinery and equipment, computers, chemicals, medical devices, pharmaceuticals; foodstuffs, animal products|
Main export partners
| United States 27.2% |
Great Britain (excludes Northern Ireland) 11.8%
China 4.2% (2017)
|Imports||$98.13 billion (2017 est.)|
|data processing equipment, other machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum and petroleum products, textiles, clothing|
Main import partners
| United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland) 22.5% |
United States 20.4%
Belgium 1.8% (2017)
|$1.54 trillion (31 December 2017 est.) Abroad: $1.56 trillion (31 December 2017 est.)|
|$28.14 billion (2017 est.)|
Gross external debt
|€2 trillion (Sep 2016)|
|−€465 billion (Sept 2016)|
|$241.4 billion (68% of GDP in 2017)|
|€0.54 billion (−0.3% of GDP in 2018)|
|Revenues||€78.73($91.3) billion (31% of GDP in 2018)|
|Expenses||€79.265($91.9) billion (31.2% of GDP in 2018)|
|Economic aid||Donor of ODA: €651 million|
Recipient of agricultural aid: $895 million (2010)
|$4.412 billion (31 December 2017 est.)|
Foreign-owned multinationals make up a significant percentage of the corporate tax base and account for a high percentage of Ireland's GDP. The "multinational tax schemes" used by some of these multinational firms contribute to a distortion Ireland's economic statistics; including GNI, GNP and GDP. For example, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows Ireland with average leverage on a gross public debt-to-GDP basis (78.8% in 2016), but with the 2nd highest leverage, after Japan, on a gross public debt-per capita basis ($62,686 in 2016). This disconnect led to the 2017 development by the Central Bank of Ireland of Irish modified GNI (or GNI*) for measuring the Irish economy (2016 GDP is 143% of Irish 2016 GNI*, and OECD Irish gross public debt-to-GNI* is 116.5%). Ireland's GNI* per capita ranks it very similar to Germany. According to an OECD report, productivity growth among foreign owned entities averaged at 10.9% for 2017, and was a lower 2.5% for indigenous firms.
The distortion of Irish economic data by US multinational tax schemes was a key contributor to the build-up of leverage in the Celtic Tiger, amplifying both Irish consumer optimism (who borrowed to 190% of disposable income, OECD highest), and global capital markets optimism about Ireland (enabled Irish banks to lend over 180% of deposit base, OECD highest). Global capital markets, who ignored Ireland's private sector credit, and OECD/IMF warnings, when Irish GDP was rising during the Celtic Tiger, took fright in the financial crisis. Their withdrawal precipitated a deep Irish property correction, which led to a crisis in the Irish banking system.
A particularly dramatic (but illusory) growth in Ireland's 2015 GDP (from 1% in 2013, to 8% in 2014, to 25% in 2015) was labelled 'leprechaun economics' by some, and shown to be driven by Apple restructuring their double Irish subsidiary, ASI, in January 2015. A follow up EU Commission report into Ireland's national accounts showed that even before this, 23% of Ireland's GDP was multinational net royalty payments, implying Irish GDP was inflated to 130% of "true" GDP (before the Apple growth). This led to the Central Bank of Ireland proposing a new replacement metric, modified gross national income (or GNI*), to better represent the "true" Irish economy.
Given the importance of US multinationals to Ireland's economy (80% of Irish multinational employment, and 14 of the 20 largest Irish firms), the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is a challenge to Ireland. Parts of the US TCJA are targeted at Irish multinational tax schemes (especially the move to a modern "territorial tax" system, the introduction of a lower FDII tax on intellectual property, and the counter-Irish GILTI tax regime). In addition, the EU's proposed Digital Sales Tax (and stated desire for a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base), is also seen as an attempt to restrict the use of the Irish multinational tax schemes by US technology firms.
The stabilisation of the Irish credit bubble required a large transfer of debt from the private sector balance sheet (highest OECD leverage), to the public sector balance sheet (almost unleveraged, pre-crisis), via Irish bank bailouts and public deficit spending. The transfer of this debt means that Ireland, in 2017, had one of the highest levels of both public sector indebtedness, and private sector indebtedness, in the EU-28/OECD.
From the 1920s Ireland had high trade barriers such as high tariffs, particularly during the Economic War with Britain in the 1930s, and a policy of import substitution. During the 1950s, 400,000 people emigrated from Ireland. It became increasingly clear that economic nationalism was unsustainable. While other European countries enjoyed fast growth, Ireland suffered economic stagnation. The policy changes were drawn together in Economic Development, an official paper published in 1958 that advocated free trade, foreign investment, and growth rather than fiscal restraint as the prime objective of economic management.
In the 1970s, the population increased by 15% and national income increased at an annual rate of about 4%. Employment increased by around 1% per year, but the state sector amounted to a large part of that. Public sector employment was a third of the total workforce by 1980. Budget deficits and public debt increased, leading to the crisis in the 1980s. During the 1980s, underlying economic problems became pronounced. Middle income workers were taxed 60% of their marginal income, unemployment had risen to 20%, annual overseas emigration reached over 1% of population, and public deficits reached 15% of GDP.
In 1987 Fianna Fáil reduced public spending, cut taxes, and promoting competition. Ryanair used Ireland's deregulated aviation market and helped European regulators to see benefits of competition in transport markets. Intel invested in 1989 and was followed by a number of technology companies such as Microsoft and Google. A consensus exists among all government parties about the sustained economic growth. The GDP per capita in the OECD prosperity ranking rose from 21st in 1993 to 4th in 2002.
Between 1985 and 2002, private sector jobs increased 59%. The economy shifted from an agriculture to a knowledge economy, focusing on services and high-tech industries. Economic growth averaged 10% from 1995 to 2000, and 7% from 2001 to 2004. Industry, which accounts for 46% of GDP and about 80% of exports, has replaced agriculture as the country's leading sector.
The economy benefited from a rise in consumer spending, construction, and business investment. Since 1987, a key part of economic policy has been Social Partnership, which is a neo-corporatist set of voluntary 'pay pacts' between the Government, employers and trade unions. The 1995 to 2000 period of high economic growth was called the Celtic Tiger, a reference to the tiger economies of East Asia.
GDP growth continued to be relatively robust, with a rate of about 6% in 2001, over 4% in 2004, and 4.7% in 2005. With high growth came high inflation. Prices in Dublin were considerably higher than elsewhere in the country, especially in the property market. However, property prices were falling following the recent economic recession. At the end of July 2008, the annual rate of inflation was at 4.4% (as measured by the CPI) or 3.6% (as measured by the HICP) and inflation actually dropped slightly from the previous month.
In terms of GDP per capita, Ireland is ranked as one of the wealthiest countries in the OECD and the EU-27, at 4th in the OECD-28 rankings. In terms of GNP per capita, a better measure of national income, Ireland ranks below the OECD average, despite significant growth in recent years, at 10th in the OECD-28 rankings. GDP is significantly greater than GNP (national income) due to the large number of multinational firms based in Ireland. A 2005 study by The Economist found Ireland to have the best quality of life in the world.
The positive reports and economic statistics masked several underlying imbalances. The construction sector, which was inherently cyclical in nature, accounted for a significant component of Ireland's GDP. A recent downturn in residential property market sentiment has highlighted the over-exposure of the Irish economy to construction, which now presents a threat to economic growth. Despite several successive years of economic growth and significant improvements since 2000, Ireland's population is marginally more at risk of poverty than the EU-15 average and 6.8% of the population suffer "consistent poverty".
It was the first country in the EU to officially enter a recession related to the Financial crisis 2008, as declared by the Central Statistics Office. Ireland now has the second-highest level of household debt in the world (190% of household income). The country's credit rating was downgraded to "AA-" by Standard & Poor's ratings agency in August 2010 due to the cost of supporting the banks, which would weaken the Government's financial flexibility over the medium term. It transpired that the cost of recapitalising the banks was greater than expected at that time, and, in response to the mounting costs, the country's credit rating was again downgraded by Standard & Poor's to "A".
The global recession has significantly impacted the Irish economy. Economic growth was 4.7% in 2007, but −1.7% in 2008 and −7.1% in 2009. In mid-2010, Ireland looked like it was about to exit recession in 2010 following growth of 0.3% in Q4 of 2009 and 2.7% in Q1 of 2010. The government forecast a 0.3% expansion. However the economy experienced Q2 negative growth of −1.2%, and in the fourth quarter, the GDP shrunk by 1.6%. Overall, the GDP was reduced by 1% in 2010, making it the third consecutive year of negative growth. On the other hand, Ireland recorded the biggest month-on-month rise for industrial production across the eurozone in 2010, with 7.9% growth in September compared to August, followed by Estonia (3.6%) and Denmark (2.7%).
The second problem, unacknowledged by management of Irish banks, the financial regulator and the Irish government, is solvency. The question concerning solvency has arisen due to domestic problems in the Irish property market. Irish financial institutions have substantial exposure to property developers in their loan portfolio. In 2008, property developers had an over-supply of property, with much unsold as demand significantly diminished. The employment growth of the past that attracted many immigrants from Eastern Europe and propped up demand for property was replaced by rising unemployment.
Irish property developers speculated billions of Euros in overvalued land parcels such as urban brownfield and greenfield sites. They also speculated in agricultural land which, in 2007, had an average value of €23,600 per acre ($32,000 per acre or €60,000 per hectare) which is several multiples above the value of equivalent land in other European countries. Lending to builders and developers has grown to such an extent that it equals 28% of all bank lending, or "the approximate value of all public deposits with retail banks. Effectively, the Irish banking system has taken all its shareholders' equity, with a substantial chunk of its depositors' cash on top, and handed it over to builders and property speculators.....By comparison, just before the Japanese bubble burst in late 1989, construction and property development had grown to a little over 25 per cent of bank lending."
Irish banks correctly identify a systematic risk of triggering an even more severe financial crisis in Ireland if they were to call in the loans as they fall due. The loans are subject to terms and conditions, referred to as "covenants". These covenants are being waived in fear of provoking the (inevitable) bankruptcy of many property developers and banks are thought to be "lending some developers further cash to pay their interest bills, which means that they are not classified as 'bad debts' by the banks". Furthermore, the banks' "impairment" (bad debt) provisions are still at very low levels. This does not appear to be consistent with the real negative changes taking place in property market fundamentals.
On 30 September 2008, the Irish Government declared a guarantee that intends to safeguard the Irish banking system. The Irish National guarantee, backed by taxpayer funds, covers "all deposits (retail, commercial, institutional and interbank), covered bonds, senior debt and dated subordinated debt". In exchange for the bailout, the government did not take preferred equity stakes in the banks (which dilute shareholder value) nor did they demand that top banking executives' salaries and bonuses be capped, or that board members be replaced.
Despite the Government guarantees to the banks, their shareholder value continued to decline and on 2009-01-15, the Government nationalised Anglo Irish Bank, which had a market capitalisation of less than 2% of its peak in 2007. Subsequent to this, further pressure came on the other two large Irish banks, who on 2009-01-19, had share values fall by between 47 and 50% in one day. As of 11 October 2008, leaked reports of possible actions by the government to artificially prop up the property developers have been revealed.
In contrast, on 7 October 2008, Danske Bank wrote off a substantial sum largely due to property-related losses incurred by its Irish subsidiary – National Irish Bank. The 3.18% charge against the loan book of its Irish operations is the first significant write off to take place and is a modest indication of the extent of the more substantial future charges to be incurred by the over-exposed domestic banks. Asset write-downs by the domestically-owned Irish banks are only now slowly beginning to take place
In November 2010 the Irish government published a National Recovery plan, which aimed to restore order to the public finances and to bring its deficit in line with the EU target of 3% of economic output by 2015. The plan envisaged a budget adjustment of €15 billion (€10 billion in public expenditure cuts and €5 billion in taxes) over a four-year period. This was front-loaded in 2011, when measures totalling €6 billion took place. Subsequent budgetary adjustments of €3 billion per year were put in place up to 2015, to reduce the government deficit to less than 3% of GDP. VAT would increase to 23% by 2014. A property tax was re-introduced in 2012. This was initially charged in 2012 as a flat rate on all properties and subsequently charged at a level of 0.18% of the estimated market-value of a property from 2013. Domestic water charges are to be introduced in 2015. Expenditure cuts included reductions in public sector pay levels, reductions in the number of public sector employees through early retirement schemes, reduced social welfare payments and reduced health spending. As a result of increased taxation and decreased government spending the Central Statistics Office (Ireland) reported that the Irish government deficit had decreased from 32.5% of GDP in 2010 (a level boosted by one-off support payments to the financial sector) to 5.7% of GDP in 2013.  In addition Ireland's unemployment rate fell from a peak of 15.1% in February 2012 to 10.6% in December 2014. The number of people in employment increased by 58,000 (3.1% increase in employment rate) in the year to September 2013. On 27 February 2014 the government launched its Action Plan for Jobs 2014, which followed similar plans initiated in 2013 and 2012.
The term "Celtic Phoenix" was coined by journalist and satirist Paul Howard, which has been occasionally used by some economic commentators and media outlets to describe the indicators of economic growth in some sectors in Ireland since 2014.
In late 2013, Ireland exited an EU/ECB/IMF bailout. The Irish economy began to recover in 2014, growing by 4.8%, making Ireland the fastest growing economy in the European Union. Contributing factors to growth included a recovering construction sector, quantitative easing, a weak euro, and low oil prices. This growth helped to reduce national debt to 109% of GDP, and the budget deficit fell to 3.1% in the fourth quarter.
The headline unemployment rate remained steady at 10%, though the youth unemployment rate remained higher than the EU average, at over 20%. Emigration had continued to play a significant factor in unemployment statistics, though the emigration rate also began to fall in 2014.
Property prices also increased in 2014, growing fastest in Dublin. This was due to a housing shortage, especially in the Dublin area. The demand for housing caused some recovery in the Irish construction and property sectors. By early 2015, house price increases nationally began to outpace those in Dublin. Cork saw house prices rise by 7.2%, while Galway prices rose by 6.8%. Prices in Limerick were 6.7% higher while in Waterford there was a 4.9% increase. The housing crisis resulted in over 20,000 applicants being on the social housing list in the Dublin City Council area for the first time. In May 2015, the Insolvency Service of Ireland reported to the Oireachtas Justice Committee that 110,000 mortgages were in arrears, and 37,000 of those are in arrears of over 720 days.
On 14 October 2014, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin introduced the budget for 2015, the first in seven years to include tax cuts and spending increases. The budget reversed some of the austerity measures that had been introduced over the previous six years, with increased spending and tax cuts worth just over €1bn.
In April 2015, during a "Spring Economic Statement", Noonan and Howlin outlined the government's plans and projections up to the year 2020. This included policy statements on expansionary budgets, deficit management plans and proposed cuts to the Universal Social Charge and other taxes.
In October 2014, German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble said that Germany was "jealous" at how the Irish economy had recovered after its bailout. He also said that Ireland had made a significant contribution to the stabilisation of the euro. While Taoiseach Enda Kenny praised the economic growth, and said that Ireland would seek to avoid returning to a "boom and bust" cycle, he noted that other areas of the economy remained fragile. The European Commission also acknowledged the recovery and growth, but warned that any extra government revenue should be used to further reduce the national debt.
Some other commentators have suggested that, depending on the Eurozone, world economic outlook as well as other internal and external factors, the growth seen in Ireland in 2014 and early 2015 may not indicate a longer-term pattern for sustainable economic improvement. Other commentators have noted that recovery figures do not account for emigration, youth unemployment, child poverty, homelessness and other factors.
On 23 June 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, which was widely reported as likely having a negative impact on trade between the UK and Ireland, and the Irish economy in general. Other commentators, for example the Financial Times, suggested that some London-based financial institutions might move operations to Dublin after Brexit.
In 2016 official CSO figures indicated that the economic recovery had led to 26.3% growth in GDP in 2015 and 18.7% growth in GNP. The figures were widely ridiculed including by Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman who labelled them "leprechaun economics". The official explanation was that the closure of the "double Irish" scheme at end 2014 (phased out by 2020), led some multinationals to relocate "intangible assets" to Ireland. It was subsequently shown in 2018 that it was due to Apple's January 2015 restructuring of their "double Irish" structure, Apple Sales International ("ASI"). While the markets had always taken Irish economic statistics with a degree of caution (given the increasing gap between Irish GNI and Irish GDP/GNP), "leprechaun economics" drew attention to the level of distortion US "multinational tax schemes" (like "double Irish") where having on Ireland's statistics. For example, on a "per capita" basis, Ireland is one of the most leveraged economies in the OECD, while on a "% of GDP" basis, it is rapidly de-leveraging.
In response to this, the Central Bank of Ireland created a special steering group, the result of which was a new metric, "Modified gross national income" or "Irish GNI*", for Irish economic analysis. For 2016, Irish GNI* would be 30% below Irish GDP, while Irish Government Net Debt/GNI* would be 106% (vs. Irish Net Debt/GDP of 73%). Commentators who had been tracking the widening gap between Irish GNI and Irish GDP/GNP since the growth of the "double Irish" in the mid-2000s (see tables), and the even stronger effect of the "capital allowances for intangible assets" scheme on distorting GNI/GNP/GDP, noted that GNI* still materially over-stated the true Irish economy. By 2017, a number of Irish financial commentators bemoaned the inaccuracy of Irish economic GDP/GNP statistics.
During the Irish economic crisis, specific Irish tax schemes were loosened to attract foreign capital to re-balance Ireland's debt. Schemes that were low-tax, became almost zero-tax ("capital allowances for intangible assets" in 2009). Schemes that were restricted, became more available (i.e. "Section 110 SPVs" in 2012). These schemes attracted the foreign capital that led Ireland's post-crisis recovery. It also saw Ireland rise up the league tables of corporate "tax havens", and blacklisted by Brazil. A major 2017 study into "offshore financial centers", identified Ireland as a top 5 global Conduit OFC.
This made Ireland the most popular destination for US corporate tax inversions. When Pfizer and Irish-based Allergan announced the largest corporate tax inversion in history at $160bn (84% of Ireland's 2016 GNI* of €190bn), it forced the Obama administration to block US tax inversions. None have occurred since.
Ireland had also become a base for US technology multinationals. By 2014 (see table), Apple's Irish ASI subsidiary was handling €34bn annually of untaxed profits (20% of Ireland's 2014 GNI*). The EU forced Ireland to close the "double Irish", but it was replaced (Apple's "capital allowances" and Microsoft's "single malt").
By 2017, IDA Ireland estimated multinationals (US comprise 80%), contributed €28.3bn in cash to the Irish Exchequer (corporate taxes, wages, and capital spend), and were responsible for an even larger Irish economic impact then could be accurately measured (i.e. new office construction, second order services etc.). The OECD estimated that foreign multinationals provide 80% of domestic value-add and 47% of employment in Irish Manufacturing, and 40% of domestic value-add and 28% of employment in Irish Services. In addition, the OECD estimate that foreign multinationals employ one quarter of the Irish private sector workforce.
However, the US and the EU became more resolute to curb what they saw as excessive tax avoidance by US multinationals in Ireland. A 2018 study published via the Center for International Relations suggested that due to the tax practices of US corporations, Ireland's pattern of trade was more aligned with NAFTA countries than with EU countries.
The US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was passed with Ireland directly in mind. The TCJA moves the US from the "worldwide tax" system (which is the reason why US multinationals use Ireland) to a modern "territorial tax" system (which is the reason why non-US multinationals hardly use Ireland - there are no non-US/non-UK foreign firms in Ireland's top 50 firms by turnover, and only one by employees - German retailer Lidl). The FDII tax regime gives US-based "intellectual property" ("IP") an low-tax 13.125% rate. The GILTI tax regime places a penalty on foreign-based IP (i.e. like in Ireland) that brings its effective rate above the FDII rate (i.e. incentivizes re-location of IP to the US). Experts believe that the TCJA neutralises Ireland's "multinational tax schemes".
The EU Commission's impending 2018 "digital tax" is also designed to curb the Irish "multinational tax schemes". By taxing turnover, it acts as an "override" on the Irish "multinational tax schemes". It has been described by Seamus Coffey, Chairperson of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council as "a more serious threat to Ireland than Brexit".
The following table shows the main economic indicators in 1980–2017. Inflation below 2% is in green.
(in Bil. US$ PPP)
|GDP per capita
(in US$ PPP)
(in % of GDP)
|1980||24.2||7,074||2.9 %||18.3 %||n/a||n/a|
|1981||27.2||7,831||2.5 %||20.2 %||n/a||n/a|
|1982||29.3||8,352||1.5 %||17.2 %||n/a||n/a|
|1983||30.2||8,559||−0.7 %||10.4 %||n/a||n/a|
|1984||32.3||9,082||3.2 %||8.6 %||n/a||n/a|
|1985||34.0||9,526||1.9 %||5.5 %||17.7 %||n/a|
|1986||34.8||9,757||0.4 %||3.0 %||18.1 %||n/a|
|1987||37.0||10,353||3.6 %||3.2 %||18.8 %||n/a|
|1988||39.5||11,086||3.0 %||2.2 %||18.4 %||n/a|
|1989||43.3||12,238||5.6 %||4.0 %||17.9 %||n/a|
|1990||48.3||13,683||7.7 %||3.4 %||17.2 %||n/a|
|1991||50.8||14,290||1.6 %||3.1 %||19.0 %||n/a|
|1992||53.8||15,016||3.6 %||3.2 %||16.3 %||n/a|
|1993||56.3||15,642||2.3 %||1.4 %||16.7 %||n/a|
|1994||60.9||16,862||5.9 %||2.4 %||15.1 %||n/a|
|1995||68.2||18,784||9.6 %||2.5 %||14.1 %||78.6 %|
|1996||75.7||20,723||9.1 %||2.2 %||11.8 %||69.9 %|
|1997||85.3||23,100||10.7 %||1.3 %||9.9 %||61.7 %|
|1998||93.5||25,065||8.5 %||2.1 %||7.6 %||51.5 %|
|1999||105.1||27,842||10.6 %||2.4 %||5.8 %||46.7 %|
|2000||117.8||30,757||9.6 %||5.3 %||4.5 %||36.1 %|
|2001||127.5||32,779||5.8 %||4.0 %||4.2 %||33.2 %|
|2002||137.6||34,781||6.3 %||4.7 %||4.8 %||30.6 %|
|2003||144.8||35,996||3.1 %||4.0 %||4.9 %||29.9 %|
|2004||158.8||38,728||6.8 %||2.3 %||4.8 %||28.2 %|
|2005||173.8||41,369||6.0 %||2.2 %||4.7 %||26.1 %|
|2006||189.0||43,744||5.5 %||2.7 %||4.9 %||23.6 %|
|2007||204.0||45,905||5.2 %||2.9 %||5.0 %||23.9 %|
|2008||199.9||44,259||−3.9 %||3.1 %||6.8 %||42.4 %|
|2009||192.0||42,221||−4.7 %||−1.7 %||12.7 %||61.5 %|
|2010||197.8||43,291||1.8 %||−1.6 %||14.6 %||86.1 %|
|2011||207.8||45,359||2.9 %||1.2 %||15.4 %||110.4 %|
|2012||211.7||46,058||0.0 %||1.9 %||15.5 %||119.7 %|
|2013||218.6||47,422||1.6 %||0.6 %||13.8 %||119.6 %|
|2014||241.0||52,133||8.3 %||0.3 %||11.9 %||104.7 %|
|2015||305.7||65,656||25.5 %||−0.1 %||10.0 %||77.1 %|
|2016||325.4||69,248||5.1 %||−0.2 %||8.4 %||72.9 %|
|2017||357.2||75,538||7.8 %||0.3 %||6.7 %||68.5 %|
There are 1,200 directly employed in leasing, with Irish lessors managing more than €100 billion in assets. This means that Ireland manages nearly 22% of the fleet of aircraft worldwide and a 40% share of Global fleet of leased aircraft. Ireland has 14 of the top 15 lessors by fleet size.
The drinks industry employs approximately 92,000 people and contributes 2 billion euro annually to the Irish economy making it one of the biggest sectors. It supports jobs in agriculture, distilling and brewing. It is subdivided into 5 areas; beer (employing 1,800 people directly and 35,000 indirectly), cider (supporting 5,000 jobs), spirits (supporting 14,700 jobs), whiskey (employing 748 people with turnover of 400 million euro) and wine (employing 1,100 directly).
The multinational engineering sector employs over 18,500 people and contributes approximately 4.2 billion euro annually. This includes approximately 180 companies in areas such of industrial products and services, aerospace, automotive and clean tech.
Bord Gáis is responsible for the supply and distribution of natural gas, which was first brought ashore in 1976 from the Kinsale Head gas field. Electrical generation from peat consumption, as a percent of total electrical generation, was reduced from 18.8% to 6.1%, between 1990 and 2004. A 2006 forecast by Sustainable Energy Ireland predicts that oil will no longer be used for electrical generation but natural gas will be dominant at 71.3% of the total share, coal at 9.2%, and renewable energy at 8.2% of the market. New or potential sources include the Corrib gas field and the Shannon Liquefied Natural Gas terminal.
Exports play an important role in Ireland's economic growth. The country is one of the largest exporters of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and software-related goods and services in the world.
A series of significant discoveries of base metal deposits have been made, including the giant ore deposit at Tara Mine. Zinc-lead ores are also currently mined from two other underground operations in Lisheen and Galmoy. Ireland now ranks as the seventh largest producer of zinc concentrates in the world, and the twelfth largest producer of lead concentrates. The combined output from these mines make Ireland the largest zinc producer in Europe and the second largest producer of lead.
In its Globalization Index 2010 published in January 2011 Ernst and Young with the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Ireland second after Hong Kong. The index ranks 60 countries according to their degree of globalisation relative to their GDP. While the Irish economy has significant debt problems in 2011, exporting remains a success.
The financial services sector employs approximately 35,000 people and contributes 2 billion euro in taxes annually to the economy. Ireland is the seventh largest provider of wholesale financial services in Europe. A number of these firms are located at the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in Dublin.
The Information and communications technology (ICT) sector employs over 37,000 people and generates 35 billion annually. The top ten ICT companies are located in Ireland, with over 200 companies in total. A number of these ICT companies are based in Dublin at developments like the Silicon Docks. This includes Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Amazon, eBay, PayPal and Microsoft; several of which have their EMEA / Europe & Middle East headquarters in Ireland. Others operate their European headquarters from Cork, including Apple, EMC and Johnson Controls.
The Medical technology (MedTech) sector employs nearly 25,000 people and generates 9.4 billion Euro annually, with over one hundred companies in the country.
The pharmaceutical sector employs approximately 50,000 people and is responsible for 55 billion euro of exports. A number of these companies are based in County Cork, at Little Island and Ringaskiddy.
The software sector employs approximately 24,000 people and contributes 16 billion Euro to the economy. Ireland is the world's second largest exporter of software. The top 10 global technology firms have operations in Ireland including Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft. Ireland is home to over 900 software companies.
The primary sector of the economy (including agriculture, forestry, mining and fishing) constitutes about 5% of Irish GDP, and 8% of Irish employment. One of Ireland's main agricultural resources is its large fertile pastures, particularly in the midland and southern regions. In 2017, agriculture was estimated to contribute approximately 1% of GDP.
According to Teagasc, the Irish agri-food sector generated 7% of gross value added (€13.9 billion) during 2016, and accounted for 8.5% of national employment and 9.8% of Ireland's merchandise exports. This included cattle, beef, and dairy product exports. Ireland's agri-food exports include several high-value dairy brands, and are led by a number of Irish companies including Kerry Group, Glanbia, Greencore and Ornua.
In the late nineteenth century, the island was mostly deforested. In 2005, after years of national afforestation programmes, about 9% of Ireland has become forested. It is still one of the least forested countries in the EU and heavily relies on imported wood. Its coastline – once abundant in fish, particularly cod – has suffered overfishing and since 1995 the fisheries industry has focused more on aquaculture. Freshwater salmon and trout stocks in Ireland's waterways have also been depleted but are being better managed. Ireland is a major exporter of zinc to the EU and mining also produces significant quantities of lead and alumina.
Beyond this, the country has significant deposits of gypsum, limestone, and smaller quantities of copper, silver, gold, barite, and dolomite. Peat extraction has historically been important, especially from midland bogs, however more efficient fuels and environmental protection of bogs has reduced peat's importance to the economy. Natural gas extraction occurs in the Kinsale Gas Field and the Corrib Gas Field in the southern and western counties, where there is 19.82 bn cubic metres of proven reserves.
The construction sector in Ireland has been severely affected by the Irish property bubble and the 2008-2013 Irish banking crisis and as a result contributes less to the economy than during the period 2002–2007.
While there are over 60 credit institutions incorporated in Ireland, the banking system is dominated by the AIB Bank, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank. There is a large Credit Union movement within the country which offers an alternative to the banks. The Irish Stock Exchange is in Dublin, however, due to its small size, many firms also maintain listings on either the London Stock Exchange or the NASDAQ. That being said, the Irish Stock Exchange has a leading position as a listing domicile for cross-border funds. By accessing the Irish Stock Exchange, investment companies can market their shares to a wider range of investors (under MiFID although this will change somewhat with the introduction of the AIFM Directive. Service providers abound for the cross-border funds business and Ireland has been recently rated with a DAW Index score of 4 in 2012. Similarly, the insurance industry in Ireland is a leader in both retail markets and corporate customers in the EU, in large part due to the International Financial Services Centre.
As of December 2007, Ireland's net unemployment benefits for long-term unemployed people across four family types (single people, lone parents, single-income couples with and without children) was the third highest of the OECD countries (jointly with Iceland) after Denmark and Switzerland. Jobseeker's Allowance or Jobseeker's Benefit for a single person in Ireland is €188 per week, as of March 2011. State provided old age pensions are also relatively generous in Ireland. The maximum weekly rate for the State Pension (Contributory) is €230.30 for a single pensioner aged between 66 and 80 (€436.60 for a pensioner couple in the same age range). The maximum weekly rate for the State Pension (Non-Contributory) is €219 for a single pensioner aged between 66 and 80 (€363.70 for a pensioner couple in the same age range).
The percentage of the population at risk of relative poverty was 21% in 2004 – one of the highest rates in the European Union. Ireland's inequality of income distribution score on the Gini coefficient scale was 30.4 in 2000, slightly below the OECD average of 31. Sustained increases in the value of residential property during the 1990s and up to late 2006 was a key factor in the increase in personal wealth in Ireland, with Ireland ranking second only to Japan in personal wealth in 2006. However, residential property values and equities have fallen substantially since the beginning of 2007 and major declines in personal wealth expected.
From 1975 to 2005, tax revenues fluctuated at around 30% of GDP (see graph right).
Before the introduction of the euro notes and coins in January 2002, Ireland used the Irish pound or punt. In January 1999 Ireland was one of eleven European Union member states which launched the European Single Currency, the euro. Euro banknotes are issued in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 denominations and share the common design used across Europe, however like other countries in the eurozone, Ireland has its own unique design on one face of euro coins. The government decided on a single national design for all Irish coin denominations, which show a Celtic harp, a traditional symbol of Ireland, decorated with the year of issue and the word Éire which means "Ireland" in the Irish language.
Ireland / agriculture: 1% / industry: 38.2% / services: 60.7% (2017 est.)
The [Kerrygold] butter and dairy label, with its signature gold wrapping, exceeded €1 billion in revenues last year, confirming its status as one of the state's most successful food exports
Ireland's food-processing behemoths have been driving the export boom [including] big players like Kerry, Glanbia, Greencore and Ornua
The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Irish: An Roinn Gnó, Fiontar agus Nuálaíochta) is a department of the Government of Ireland. It is led by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation who is assisted by two Ministers of State.Department of Finance (Ireland)
The Department of Finance (Irish: An Roinn Airgeadais) is a department of the Government of Ireland. It is led by the Minister for Finance and is assisted by two Minister of State.
The Department of Finance is responsible for the administration of the public finances of the Republic of Ireland and all powers, duties and functions connected with the same, including in particular, the collection and expenditure of the revenues of Ireland from whatever source arising.Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Irish: An Roinn Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe) is a department of the Government of Ireland. It is led by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform who is assisted by three Ministers of State.
The department was established in July 2011. The department took over the functions of Public Expenditure from the Department of Finance. The department of Public Expenditure and Reform is responsible for overseeing the reform of the Public Sector. The Comprehensive Expenditure Report 2012–14 set a spending ceiling for the department of €837 million for the year 2013, and €826 million for the year 2014.Economic and Social Research Institute
The Economic and Social Research Institute is an Irish research institute founded in 1960 to provide evidence-based research used to inform public policy debate and decision-making. The research of the institute focuses on the areas of sustainable economic growth and social progress. Alan Barrett is the Director of the institute.Enterprise Ireland
Enterprise Ireland is an Irish state economic development agency focused on helping Irish-owned business deliver new export sales. The aim of Enterprise Ireland is to accelerate the development of Irish enterprises capable of achieving strong positions in global markets resulting in increased national and regional prosperity and purchasing power.Gaeltarra Éireann
Gaeltarra Éireann (Irish pronunciation: [ˈɡeːl̪ˠt̪ˠaɾˠa ˈeːɾʲən̪ˠ], meaning "Gaelic Coal-tar of Ireland") was an Irish state industrial development agency set up in 1957 specifically for the Gaeltacht, the Irish speaking areas of Ireland. Gaeltarra Éireann followed on from the dedicated government department that had been initiated to coordinate Gaeltacht affairs when the new boundaries were drawn up for the reduced size Gaeltacht in 1956.ISEQ 20
The ISEQ 20 is a benchmark stock market index composed of companies that trade on Euronext Dublin. The index comprises the 20 companies with the highest trading volume and market capitalisation contained within the ISEQ Overall Index. The index was started on 31 December 2004 at a base of 1,000 points. The Irish Overall Index has a longer history and is more often used for comparing the performance of the Irish stocks for a longer period.Due to the "Celtic Tiger" economy the index rose to just over 1500 points in April 2007, before declining sharply in the Irish financial crisis to under 300 points, since when it has recovered slightly.Since 2005 the ISEQ 20 index is covered by an ETF contract; other ETFs are also listed on the ISE.Ibec
Ibec (formerly Irish Business and Employers Confederation) is the largest business lobby group and largest lobbying organisation in Ireland. It represents business of all sizes spanning every sector of the economy, together employing 70% of the private sector workforce in Ireland. The organisation works to promote business interests by lobbying and advising governments, policy makers and key stakeholders, creating networking opportunities for businesses and providing business insight.
Ibec also supports member companies with advice on industrial relations and management of employees.
The organisation employs over 240 staff, has 42 brands representing individual trade associations and operates nationally through six national offices in: Dublin (HQ), Cork, Galway, Waterford, Limerick and Donegal, and internationally through its Brussels office. Ibec is directed and managed by a board, national council, and executive director team.Irish euro coins
Irish euro coins all share the same design by Jarlath Hayes, that of the harp, a traditional symbol for Ireland since the Middle Ages, based on that of the Brian Boru harp, housed in Trinity College, Dublin. The same harp is used as on the official seals of the Taoiseach, and government ministers and the Seal of the President of Ireland. The coins' design also features the 12 stars of the EU, the year of issue and the Irish name for Ireland, "Éire", in a traditional Gaelic script.Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation
The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Irish: An tAire Gnó, Fiontar agus Nuálaíochta) is the senior minister at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in the Government of Ireland.
The current Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation is Heather Humphreys, TD. There are two Ministers of State in the Department:
Pat Breen, TD – Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection
John Halligan, TD – Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and DevelopmentMinister for Finance (Ireland)
The Minister for Finance (Irish: An tAire Airgeadais) is the senior minister at the Department of Finance in the Government of Ireland. The minister is responsible for all financial and monetary matters of the state, and is considered the second most important member of the Government of Ireland, after the Taoiseach.
The current office holder is Paschal Donohoe, TD, who also serves as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. He is assisted by:
Michael W. D'Arcy, TD – Minister of State at the Department of Finance
Patrick O'Donovan, TD – Minister of State for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernmentMinister for Supplies
The Minister for Supplies (Irish: An tAire Soláthairtí) was created by the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act, 1939, to assist Ireland through World War II, or The Emergency, as it was referred to by the Government of Ireland. The minister's functions were transferred to the Minister for Industry and Commerce on abolition of the office.
The Minister for Supplies was charged with controlling production, distribution and pricing of vital supplies during the Irish Emergency. According to the most recent history of the Emergency in Ireland (Bryce Evans' 'Farewell to Plato's Cave', 2014) Seán Lemass, Minister for Supplies, introduced full rationing in Ireland 'too late', ensuring the black market trumped later state attempts at equitable distribution amid the British wartime supply squeeze. This view is contested by earlier histories which point to Lemass's successes in stockpiling essential goods.National Development Plan
National Development Plan (NDP, Irish: Plean Forbartha Náisiúnta) was the title given by the Irish Government to a scheme of organised large-scale expenditure on (mainly) national infrastructure. The first five-year plan ran from 1988 to 1993, the second was a six-year plan from 1994 to 1999 and the third ran as a seven-year plan from 2000 to 2006. A fourth National Development Plan ran from 2007 to 2011 (spending €70 million a day every day during this period). The main elements of the third plan were the development of a national motorway network between the major cities in Ireland. The upgrading of the rail network was a secondary scheme.
In November 2011, the Government announced that the National Development Plan was to be succeeded by a Capital Investment Plan. This scheme began on 1 January 2012 and ran until 31 December 2015. A second Capital Investment Plan is currently running from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2021.National Treasury Management Agency
The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) is the agency that manages the assets and liabilities of the Government of Ireland. It was established on 1 December 1990 to borrow for the exchequer and manage the national debt. Since then it has been expanded greatly, for example it now manages the National Pensions Reserve Fund and acts as Ireland's agent for the purchase of carbon credits.
The National Asset Management Agency was established in December 2009 under the aegis of the agency to handle the Irish financial crisis and the deflation of the Irish property bubble.
NTMA also handles the €8.1 billion Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund established on 22 December 2014.Retail in the Republic of Ireland
In the Republic of Ireland, the retail sector provides one of the largest sources of employment in the economy, representing over 12% of the workforce. As of 2017, approximately 40,000 wholesale and retail businesses employed almost 280,000 people in Ireland, with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation reporting that 90% of these businesses were Irish-owned.As of 2017, the retail market was worth €40 billion annually, with the supermarket sector reportedly comprising €9 billion of this figure. For the same period, €5 billion was spent by Irish consumers with online retailers - €3 billion of this going to non-Irish sites.Revenue Commissioners
The Revenue Commissioners (Irish: Na Coimisinéirí Ioncaim), usually referred to simply as Revenue, is the Irish Government agency responsible for customs, excise, taxation and related matters. Though Revenue can trace itself back to predecessors (with the Act of Union 1800 amalgamating its forerunners with HM Customs and Excise in the United Kingdom), the current organisation was created for the independent Irish Free State on 21 February 1923 by the Revenue Commissioners Order, 1923 which established the Revenue Commissioners to carry out the functions that the Commissioners of Inland Revenue and the Commissioners of Customs and Excise had carried out in the Free State prior to independence. The Revenue Commissioners are responsible to the Minister for Finance.Shannon Development
Shannon Development (legally the Shannon Free Airport Development Company Limited formerly known as SFADCO) was an important regional development body for the Shannon Region of Ireland. Its area in the lower River Shannon basin comprised all of counties Clare, Limerick, and the former North Tipperary, as well as north Kerry and west Offaly. Its key founder was Brendan O'Regan.Shannon Development worked with, but was not an agency of, Forfás.Údarás na Gaeltachta
Údarás na Gaeltachta (Irish pronunciation: [uːd̪ˠəɾˠaːs nə ˈɡeːl̪ˠt̪ˠəxt̪ˠə]) meaning "Gaeltacht Authority" (abbreviated UnaG) is a regional state agency which is responsible for the economic, social and cultural development of Irish-speaking (Gaeltacht) regions of Ireland. Its stated purpose is to strengthen the Gaeltacht communities, to increase the quality of life of its community members and facilitate the preservation and extension of the Irish language as the principal language of the region. It gives funding to small local businesses that have to compete with foreign companies.
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