Ireland’s international reputation will receive a major boost if it exits its bailout programme this year as planned, according to IDA Ireland chief Barry O’Leary.

Speaking to members of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, Mr O’Leary said sentiment towards the country had already improved and pointed to recent Government bond sales as evidence of this.

“Looking at things today, there is no doubt the sentiment is improving, and in the US in particular it has improved significantly,” he said.

“Any challenges about Ireland now are just not raised. In any of the interactions we have with companies, there is a lot of positivity about Ireland”.

Mr O’Leary’s talk to chamber members focused on the health of Ireland’s ‘brand’ and how it had suffered in recent years.

He said that much of the work to undo this damage was now taking place online, particularly via social media.