Almost 500 jobs are to be created in Belfast by accountancy and consultancy firm EY, formerly Ernst and Young.

The jobs will be created over the next four years, with 130 positions to be filled this year.

The company already employs almost 1,500 people at its offices in the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Mike McKerr, a managing partner at EY Ireland, said the average salary at the development will be more than £39,000 (€47,000).

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson said it is a significant boost for the local economy to see the creation of almost 500 high-end jobs.

EY said the Belfast project will target public and private sector consultancy work much of it in the UK, but it will also seek contracts in places such as the Middle East.  

Several other locations, including centres in Poland and Hungary, were considered before the decision was made to base the project in Belfast.

Invest Northern Ireland is providing £3.2m in grant aid and Northern Ireland's Department of Employment and Learning is also providing training support for the project.

Meanwhile, Irish technology company Diona is to recruit 40 high-quality positions following a $5.5 million investment.

Diona already employs over 90 staff, with revenue at the company hitting €6 million last year. 

The 40 new jobs are in areas such as software engineering, services and global business support.