UCC economist Seamus Coffey has been appointed chair of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council.

The Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has appointed Mr Coffey to replace outgoing chair Professor John McHale. He will take up the new role in January.

The minister has also appointed Martina Lawless, an associate research professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute, as a new member of the council.

Sebastian Barnes has been reappointed for a further four year term on the Council.

"I congratulate Seamus Coffey on his appointment as Chairperson of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council. I also welcome the appointment of Martina Lawless and the re-appointment of Sebastian Barnes as Members of the Fiscal Council.  I wish them well in these important roles," Mr Noonan said in a statement on the Department of Finance website.

The Irish Fiscal Advisory Council is an independent body set up under statute to assess and comment on government fiscal policy.

It reports on budgetary matters and makes a determination as to whether or not it believes the government is sticking to its own budgetary targets and objectives.

The Council can also decide whether or not to endorse the economic forecasts produced by the Department of Finance which frame the budget.

In its most recent assessment, published in November, the council stated that the package of measures announced by the government in Budget 2017 went beyond what it considered prudent.

It expressed concern that unexpectedly high corporation tax receipts which may not recur were being used for "difficult to reverse spending increases".