Fast food chain McDonald's is to create 700 new jobs in Ireland over the next three years.

Up to 12 new restaurants will open around the country in an investment worth over €20m.

McDonald's has been operating in Ireland for 35 years, and already employs over 4,000 people here.

The company said that some of the new restaurants will be in Dublin, Kilkenny, Ballina, and Kildare Village. McDonalds is also actively looking at other locations.

Recruitment for the new positions will begin in January, it said.

A new economic analysis of the contribution of McDonald's to the Irish economy shows the company spent over €280m here last year. It also contributes more than €390m in exports.

McDonald's is one of the biggest exporters of Irish beef - worth €110m last year - and also accounted for €66m worth of exports of Irish cheese in 2011.