New provisional figures from the Central Statistics Office show that industrial production slowed by 16.2% in February compared to January.

The CSO said that on an annual basis, industrial production fell by 10.6% in February from the same month last year.

Today's figures show that production in the 'modern' sector slumped by 22.2% on a monthly basis in February, while there was an annual decrease of 17.3% compared with February of last year. 

Meanwhile, there was a monthly decrease of 2.9% in the 'traditional' sector in February. But on an annual basis, production in the sector rose by 0.5% compared with February 2016 - the third annual rise in a row. 

The CSO said that in the three months from December to February, manufacturing output was down 5.5% on the preceding three-month period.

Commenting on today's figures, Merrion economist Alan McQuaid said the data in recent years underline how important the multi-national sector is to the overall production figures, but also show how erratic and volatile the numbers can be on a monthly basis. 

Mr McQuaid said the annual increase in production in the country's 'traditional' sector was down to currency movements. 

He said there have been worries about the fall in sterling against the euro since the Brexit referendum and its potential negative impact on the industry's exports, of which just under a half go to the UK. 

"Indeed, following Brexit" the biggest losers going forward will most likely be the indigenous companies. However, producers will take some encouragement from the more stable performance of the pound in the past few months," he added.