Ireland's economy expanded by an incredible 26% in 2015

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Ireland’s economy grew an incredible 26.3% in 2015, according to new data released by the country’s Central Statistics Office.

GDP growth was revised upwards from 7.8% at the previous estimates, to more than 26% at the final reading after the country received “more complete and up to date data” about its finances.

“Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased by 26.3% over the same period. The present release is based on more complete and up to date data than that which was available when the Q4 2015 estimates were published in March 2016. The 2014/2015 volume changes indicated at that stage were GDP (7.8%) and GNP (5.7%),” a release from the CSO said.

The absolutely incredible rise in GDP came as a result of a combination of one-off factors, including aircraft purchases, corporate restructuring and companies re-locating assets to Ireland. Every single sector of the economy grew in 2015, the stats show, with the building sector growing an astonishing 87%.

Here’s the chart, showing just how much GDP grew last year:

“The very dramatic increase has increased the capacity for production in the economy and impacts the accounts for 2015 in the increase of exports and imports. Employment has not changed greatly as a result,” Michael Connolly, a senior statistician at the CSO said, according to Irish broadcaster RTE.

Despite the huge gains seen in 2015, Irish GDP actually shrunk in the first quarter of 2016, the CSO said. There was a 2.1% fall in growth, which disappointed against the forecasts of economists who had predicted a 1.5% fall. On an annual basis, GDP grew 2.3%, compared to a predicted 7.2%.

There are fears within Ireland that the performance of the country’s economy, which is closely linked to the UK, will take a hit from Britain’s vote to leave the EU, with forecasts that an overall GDP cut of 1.6% could occur by 2021 as a result of Brexit.

“Over the period 2017 to 2021, we think the net effect on GDP would be somewhere between 0.5 and 1.6 per cent,” Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan said prior to the vote. Brexit risks are however “containable,” Noonan said.

“We’re pointing out that there’s a risk from Brexit. It’s not a risk that would damage the general thrust of what we’re saying today.”

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