Lending to businesses not associated with financial services or property fell by just under 6%, or €1.6 billion, in the year to the end of March.

Lending in the three months to the end of March was down €417 million or 1.6%, according to the figures from the Central Bank.

The total amount of credit advanced to SMEs in these sectors stood at €25.7 billion at end-March 2013.

Gross new lending in these sectors amounted to €464 million during the first quarter of this year.

The total amount of outstanding credit advanced to Irish SMEs in all sectors stood at €70.7 billion at the end of March, a decrease of 1.4% in the quarter and a decline of 3.2% over the year.

Deposits held by Irish resident private-sector enterprises in credit institutions in Ireland rose by €12.4 billion in the first quarter, a 15.6% increase.