Bill Gates has told RTÉ News that if it were certain the rest of Europe was strong it would be easier to say that the Irish economic recovery could come at the short end of a two to four year time-frame.

The Microsoft founder and chairman said the basic qualities of the Irish workforce and its attractions as a place to live still shine through.

Mr Gates said Ireland is a good example that countries can get through and austerity, tough as it is, can come to an end.

He said that compared to countries where their ability to collect taxes is not as good as Ireland, this country has a lot of strengths but it is a little hard to predict when the country will be back in a "good story position".

In an interview for the new Morning Edition TV programme to air next Monday, Mr Gates said Ireland suffered from a ''pretty extreme real estate problem'. He said the country took a certain approach on to how the banks were bailed out after that bubble and it took a gigantic hit as a percentage of GDP.

Morning Edition will air from 9am Monday to Friday from January 28.

Earlier, Mr Gates met the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore. During an hour-long meeting they discussed overseas aid, the EU budget and the campaign to end polio.

Mr Gilmore said Mr Gates also expressed strong hope that Ireland would make a full economic recovery.

In a press conference afterwards, the Tánaiste said Mr Gates is a significant person in the world of business and a "friend of Ireland".

Mr Gates is visiting a number of European countries ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.