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Ireland in severe recession due to Covid-19, says Donohoe

GDP is set to fall by 10.5% and unemployment is set to peak at 22%.

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Paschal Donohoe during a press conference at Government Buildings, Dublin (Photocall Ireland/PA)

Paschal Donohoe during a press conference at Government Buildings, Dublin (Photocall Ireland/PA)

Paschal Donohoe during a press conference at Government Buildings, Dublin (Photocall Ireland/PA)

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a severe recession both domestically and globally, Ireland’s Finance Minister says.

Paschal Donohoe set out the Government’s Stability Programme Update which gives its economic projections for the year.

Mr Donohoe said the Department of Finance fiscal projections suggest Ireland will run a deficit of 23 billion euro this year and GDP will fall by 10.5%.

Mr Donohoe said total employment will fall by 9.3%  this year, with approximately 220,000 jobs being lost.

It will take until 2022 to get back to where Ireland was pre-crisis, he said.

“We are in the midst of a severe recession both domestically and globally.

“In the space of 12 weeks our jobs market has gone from almost full employment to a scale of unprecedented unemployment that has risen with a speed and scale that is unprecedented.”

Mr Donohoe said that under Department of Finance projections, employment will begin to grow in 2021, with the number of people out of work falling 10%.

He said: “There is no doubt that, along with the rest of the world, Ireland is on a difficult road.

We are in the midst of a severe recession both domestically and globallyPaschal Donohoe

“However, we face into this journey from a position of strength. We can and we will rebuild our economy, continue to provide for society, get our people back to work and keep them safe while doing so.”

He said: “While the economic deterioration has been unprecedented in terms of speed and scale, so has the response from Government.

“This has been possible because of the prudent policies implemented in recent years.”

He said Ireland is in a position of strength as it seeks to rebuild the economy after the coronavirus emergency.

“We will rebuild our economy again. As with the recovery of our public health, it will require focus.

“We do start from a position of strength. We have had a budget surplus over recent years and have significant cash reserves. We have a restored reputation in the financial markets.”

Meanwhile, mass gatherings of more than 5,000 will not be permitted up to the end of August, the Irish Government said.

Several large-scale future events are planned which would have required licensing under normal circumstances.

The summer time normally sees large crowds attending Gaelic Athletic Association fixtures across the country as inter-county competition reaches its latter stages, as well as live music festivals.

All such events have been restricted since March 24 due to coronavirus and further health advice will be updated before May 5.

Businesses should start to plan how they will come back when Covid-19 restrictions lift, a minister has said.

And the National Public Health Emergency Team will also meet on Tuesday to discuss options aimed at easing restrictions, which are due to expire on May 5.

However, Ireland’s chief medical officer, Tony Holohan, has cautioned that there will not be a significant lifting of restrictions and warned against complacency among the general public.

It comes as 77 Covid-19 related deaths were confirmed on Monday, the highest number of deaths in the Republic to date. It brings the total number of deaths to 687.

Speaking to Ireland AM, Heather Humphreys said businesses should make preparations for reopening.

The business minister said: “What we want businesses to do in the meantime is to think about coming back and to plan for it.

“The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) have drawn up a number of guidelines for retailers on how to manage social distancing and what they need to do. There are also guidelines for manufacturing companies.

“I would suggest that they contact the NSAI, find out the information and start to plan to come back.”

Health minister Simon Harris is to meet Nursing Homes Ireland on Tuesday to discuss the situation regarding Covid-19 in nursing homes and other residential settings.

PA