Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said the economy is projected to grow by 4.3% this year. 

This compares with a GDP growth forecast of 3.5% from the Department of Finance last October.

Speaking at the Joint Central Bank of Ireland & European Investment Bank Conference, Mr Noonan also said the department is now predicting 3.7% GDP growth for 2018.

He added the recovery in the economy is continuing at a robust pace, with GDP increasing by 5.2% last year.

This resulted in Ireland having the best performing economy in the European Union for the third year in a row in 2016, beating forecasts that were trimmed back following Brexit.

He said the increase in economic activity is broad-based and that export growth in recent years has been robust.

The new 4.3% forecast for 2017 is in contrast with the Central Bank's own estimate, with the regulator predicting growth of 3.5% for the year (which was upgraded last week from a previous estimate of 3.3%).

On Brexit, the finance minister said we now have two quarters of hard data since the Brexit referendum and they show the immediate impact from Brexit has been "more muted than initially anticipated".

"This is consistent with the trends emerging in the UK, US and Euro Area economies," he added.

However, Mr Noonan warned that the principal risk for Ireland at the moment is the fallout from Brexit. 

He said the Irish economy is particularly exposed to the UK's decision to leave the EU and "in the long-run any barriers to trade will impact on Irish growth while in the short run, the depreciation of sterling has led to a loss of competitiveness".