New figures show strong exports lifted the economy's performance in the first three months of this year, but the domestic economy continued to struggle.

The Central Statistics Office also revised its figures for 2010 to show a stronger performance than it previously estimated.

Economic activity, measured by Gross Domestic Product, grew by 1.3% in the first three months.

However, this figure includes profits made by multi-nationals based in Ireland.

Many economists prefer to focus on Gross National Product, which showed a drop of 4.3% in the first quarter.

Industrial production also slipped, while construction output dropped sharply again.

The CSO also said the economy's performance in 2010 was not as bad as it had first thought.

It said GDP fell by 0.4%, instead of the 1% drop previously reported, while the domestic economy actually grew slightly last year.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said today's figures were consistent with the Department of Finance growth figures.

Mr Noonan said the quantity of Ireland's debt was fixed but 'we have control over growth'.

He added: 'We need people to go into the shops and start buying again.'

Mr Noonan acknowledged the domestic economy was 'flat', but said Ireland was on target and this was acknowledged by external partners.

He said opposition to Ireland's interest rate cut 'was being run out the Élysée Palace'.