Operating profit for Aviva's Irish life assurance business fell very sharply over the first six months of the year from £32m sterling to £8m.

The British insurer said the poor result was expected following the closure of its joint venture with AIB.

Aviva was also hit by the fall in the value of the euro relative to sterling which impacts results here when they are translated back into sterling.

It also said the adverse weather conditions and the continuing difficult market conditions affected profitability.

Aviva said that all its businesses across the euro zone are suffering from what the ''adverse market and economic conditions''.

''While this has been a subdued and challenging half, we are taking the necessary steps to build the company's financial strength,'' commented Seán Egan, Aviva Ireland's chief executive.

''Our restructuring plan, agreed and announced in May, is enabling us to address our cost base and become a more responsive, more competitive company,'' he added.

There is a renewed focus on growth across the three divisions of the business and Mr Egan said that the Irish business secured additional services which was a significant endorsement of its continued commitment to Ireland.

Aviva has 1.3 million customers in Ireland and announced several hundred redundancies in Ireland earlier this year.

Its UK parent said its overall operating profit for the six months (including restructuring costs) fell by 10% to £935m as a result of the sale of RAC, adverse foreign exchange movements, the adverse impact of recent UK weather and higher restructuring costs as its implements its strategic plan.

Interim operating profit before restructuring costs was down 2% to £1.1 billion, while there was a net loss after tax of £681m. This compares to a profit after tax of £465m the same time last year..

Last month the company said that it was planning to exit 16 non-core business areas, while it also announced senior management changes following a major strategic review of the embattled group. Its chief executive Andrew Moss sensationally quit in May as head of Aviva amid spreading shareholder revolts over pay for top managers viewed as underperforming.