What does the Irish economy need to be doing?
The Irish economy has become one of the fastest-growing in the G7, as new jobs and investment are flowing into the country.
The figures show the economy grew by 5.3 per cent in the quarter to March, the strongest quarterly performance since the global financial crisis.
The Irish unemployment rate fell to 6.1 per cent, from 7.9 per cent the previous quarter.
In the month of March, Irish exports rose by 2.9pc, as demand for services, particularly healthcare, rose by 8.4pc.
The jobless rate fell slightly to 7.7 per cent from 7 per cent.
The Irish economy is growing faster than the UK economy and in particular faster than that of Germany.
Ireland has been one of Britain’s biggest growth economies in recent years, and the Irish government has repeatedly highlighted the fact that its economy is on track to overtake the UK.
“We have an opportunity to be the biggest economy in Europe, if we focus on creating jobs,” said Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
“The UK is failing us, it is failing the Irish people and it is doing it with its austerity.
We have the potential to be one of Europe’s most powerful economies, if Ireland wants to be.
We have to work together to get there.”
Irish President Leo Varadkar said the country was facing an economic crisis, adding: “The Irish people are frustrated and we have to make progress.
It is not easy.
But we have got to get on with it.
We must do it with our own resources and our own skills.”
On the eve of the election, the Irish finance minister Leo Varady said: “We are not going to be happy with the election result, but we are not doing anything about it.
This is about delivering jobs for our people.
That is what I am doing as Taoiseacha, that is what we are doing as the Irish Government, we are taking a very hard look at the economy, the economy is improving.”
However, the finance minister is keen to focus on the issue of Ireland’s fiscal position in the coming months.
He has promised to take on the deficit by 2020, and he has pledged to raise taxes by a quarter on the wealthy.
His election manifesto, released on Wednesday, promises a €4bn tax cut in 2021-22, and a €1.4bn boost in 2019-20.
However, it also promises a “fair” tax cut for middle-class families, while the new Irish Water pay system will be overhauled.
This is despite the fact the Irish banking system is already struggling, with a €2.7bn bailout to help banks from the Troubled Asset Relief Programme (TARP) unable to recapitalise.
Last year, the bank’s losses hit €10bn, with the total value of the bank at just under €300bn.