Financial advisory firm Davy has forecast GDP growth of 3.7% this year for Ireland - a slight downgrade on its previous prediction.

Davy also suggested the country's economy grew by 4.8% last year, which was weaker than it had expected.

The firm had previously forecast 6% growth in 2016 and 4% for 2017, but said weaker export and manufacturing data on the back of the Brexit vote have had an impact.

Despite that, it still anticipates Ireland will be the fastest growing economy in Europe this year, as employment and consumer consumption increases.

Its report said housing construction and "resilient" foreign direct investment will benefit Irish banks and the REIT sector.

Davy also predicts an 8% rise in house prices, as the Government's help-to-buy scheme and the easing of Central Bank rules fuel activity.

The scheme provides a tax rebate worth 5% of the purchase price of newly built homes.

The company believes price gains and stronger transaction values will lead to an expansion in new mortgage lending from €5 billion to €6 billion, but will remain below what it said were "normal lending levels" of around €10 billion.