Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath has welcomed today’s positive economic data released by the CSO but has said major challenges lie ahead for the Irish economy that will require concerted action on the part of government.

Deputy McGrath commented, “Today’s positive economic data is to be welcomed. I am pleased to see Personal Consumption, which is an important measure of the domestic economy, increase by 3% in 2016. However, we are undoubtedly in a very uncertain economic climate and Ireland, as an open trading economy, remains exposed to key external factors. The imminent triggering of Article 50 by the UK government on their departure from the EU is of paramount importance to Ireland’s economic future.

“On the domestic front, we need to step up our efforts to boost housing supply as this has become a key economic issue as well as an enormous social issue. We are under investing in our economy at present and need to explore new ways of achieving greater capital investment in our infrastructure. We have to remain alert to the increase in costs facing businesses and the associated loss of competitiveness. In that regard, decisive action on, for example, the unsustainable increases in insurance must be a priority.

“We have to ensure that Ireland remains an attractive destination for inward investment, while not becoming overly dependent on the corporation tax receipts from a small number of companies. Ensuring that the fruits of economic growth are experienced in all parts of the country remains a central challenge and the Government needs to give greater priority to developing the regions.

“I have asked the Minister for Finance to outline the impact of the better than expected GDP performance for 2016 on Ireland’s deficit, our debt to GDP ratio and the estimated fiscal space for 2018,” concluded McGrath,