Ireland back in recession

Ireland has fallen back into recession, according to preliminary figures released today by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The country’s GDP declined by 0.2% over the fourth quarter of 2011, marking the second consecutive quarterly decline. Over the same period GNP (Gross National Product) declined by 2.2%.

While the figures are still subject to revision, if they prove accurate it would mean that Ireland joins Belgium, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Slovenia in recession.

A major drag on growth came from the building and construction sector, which saw a contraction of 13.5% over the quarter. Meanwhile personal consumption, which accounts for two-thirds of domestic demand, fell by 2.7%. (article continues below)

For the Irish government the GNP is a particularly worrying figure as it represents a substantial decline in taxable income from Irish firms. Problems in Ireland might also pose a difficulty for European politicians who have seen the country as the poster-child for the value of austerity measures.