Nearly all of the country's chief financial officers believe the Irish economy has either returned to growth or will do so this year. 

That is according to the latest Chief Financial Offices' survey by Deloitte, which also reveals that nine out of ten CFOs believe that the unemployment rate will continue to fall during 2014.

A majority of CFO surveyed believe that exports and GDP will increase over the year, as well as foreign direct investment.

Deloitte said that for the first time since the survey began in the third quarter of 2009, no respondent noted a decrease in optimism about their company's financial prospects. 

Chief financial officers exercise a large degree of control over the purse strings in companies and as a result, their views on the economy and the business environment in general are keenly watched. 

However, despite the rebound in confidence and growth, Irish businesses remain concerned about tight credit conditions, which continued to restrict business growth. Today's survey shows that 19% of CFOs believe that new credit is difficult to get from domestic banks and 33% consider it difficult to obtain credit from foreign banks.

"It has been a long time coming but our survey results suggest that Irish CFOs are increasingly buoyant in relation to the financial prospects of their companies with no survey respondents citing a decrease in optimism compared to three months ago - a first in the history of the survey," commented Shane Mohan, a partner at Deloitte.

Mr Mohan said companies are prioritising the pursuit of opportunities ahead of limiting risk, and growing and scaling their business ahead of contracting and rationalising.

"Interestingly, the renewed optimism among finance officers is broadly based around a range of factors such as the economy, specific market trends, availability of financing and other operational items. This is positive as it does not leave companies exposed or vulnerable to a single contributory factor that may change over the coming period," he added.