A 0.2 percent dip in GDP at the end of 2011, which followed a drastic decline in the third quarter, has thrown Ireland back into recession, alongside Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal and Greece, and begs the question of whether austerity is the answer to Europe’s economic woes. —ARK
The Irish finance minister, Michael Noonan, promised a swift recovery last year after record export figures appeared to show foreign trade would galvanise the economy, which had to be bailed out with €90bn by the European commission, IMF and European Central Bank in December 2010. However, the euro crisis and a slowdown in some key export markets dampened demand for Irish goods.
Dublin has focused on exports after it was forced to impose a dramatic squeeze on public spending by Brussels as the price of a multibillion-euro rescue package. The housing crisis that resulted from the largest property boom in the eurozone has also restricted domestic demand.