CSO defends its surprising Irish growth claim

Did GDP really jump over 26% in a year?

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) is standing by its claim that the Irish economy expanded by over a quarter last year.

New figures released today suggested that Ireland's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 26.3% in 2015.

That far exceeds the 7.8% growth rate estimated in March.

While Michael Connolly of the CSO accepts that people are shocked by the sizeable percentage, he stands by the calculations about the state of the nation's economy.

"That's how we understand it," Connolly said.

"We are a very small economy and if we get a big increase in assets, this is what happens.

"We were obviously looking over countries where these sort of numbers occur and they occur when something very dramatic happens or a collection of things comes together."

The comments come after economist Jim Power told the Irish Independent that the figure was "meaningless".

He said:

"There’s clearly a lot of balance sheet accounting transactions going on that are seriously distorting what is happening in the economy.

"What we have to do is look at what is happening on the ground. We need to look at employment, unemployment, tax revenues and consumer spending and consumer confidence.

"What they suggested in 2015 and what they’re suggesting in the first half of 2016 is that there is a reasonable level of economic activity going on.

"It feels like an economy growing at a rate of 4%, 4.5%, but it certainly doesn’t feel like a 26% economy. I think in terms of international interpretation to what’s going on here, it’s a meaningless exercise."