Last year saw the lowest rate of job losses in Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies for 14 years as the agency reported a net loss of 37 jobs.

Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies created 700 new jobs last year and total employment at these companies stood at 7,553 by the end of last year.

There are 6,933 full-time jobs and 620 part-time jobs.

In today's annual report, Údarás na Gaeltachta said its client companies have stabilised their employment base, are more competitive and have a stronger export focus.

It noted that firms involved in the pharmaceutical, medical devices, food and niche manufacturing sectors increased their employment levels during the year, while export-led companies continued to grow sales and employment.

But companies trading in the domestic market experienced ongoing difficulties during the year and firms in the services, tourism and traditional manufacturing sectors reduced their employment numbers during the year.

Údarás na Gaeltachta cautioned that although the level of job losses has stabilised, the number of new jobs being created is not sufficient to maintain employment levels in the Gaeltacht.

It said: "The fall-off in job approvals is due to a number of factors, which include the challenging global economic conditions, companies deferring expansion and capital investment plans, and also a substantial reduction in capital budget provision to Údarás.

"In order to attract inward investment, the Gaeltacht needs to be in a position to offer modern enterprises the most up-to-date physical, business and telecommunications infrastructure. The absence of access to high-speed broadband is still a challenge for companies in some Gaeltacht areas."