The Nevin Economic Research Institute has said Ireland needs an enhanced level of investment in order to grow the domestic economy.

The economic think tank, which is supported by a number of unions affiliated to the Congress of Trade Unions, has forecast low growth and high unemployment for the next three years.

It believes an extension to Ireland's loan period would ease the burden somewhat, but the Government will need to counteract tough Budget measures that are planned for the next two years.

NERI has also predicted low growth and high unemployment for the next three years as its projections remain downbeat.

In its latest quarterly Economic Observer, NERI predicts low GDP growth of 1% and 1.2% over the next two years, increasing to 2% in 2015.

A further shrinking of the numbers employed has been forecast for 2013, and the institute expects employment levels to remain static in 2014 and 2015.

In the Republic of Ireland, it says the general Government deficit will fall to 7.1% in 2013, while Government debt is expected to peak at 121.1% of GDP.

Published this morning, the Nevin Institute's Quarterly Economic Observer also focuses on the youth unemployment crisis in Northern Ireland.

Almost 20% (34,000) of 18 to 24-year-olds in Northern Ireland are currently not in "employment, education or training" it finds.