The amount of money being taken in by Government was slightly ahead of target in the first half of the year, though the Exchequer deficit has also increased.

The latest Exchequer returns put the deficit at €823m at the end of June, an increase of €323m when the impact of last year's AIB share sale is removed. The Department of Finance said that was primarily due to higher expenditure, though it was offset somewhat by a higher tax take.

Almost €25 billion was taken in by the Exchequer in the first six months of 2018, €168m or 0.7% higher than was anticipated at the start of the year. The figure is also €1.27bn or 5.4% higher than what was received in the same period of 2017.

Between January and June, more than €9.7bn was received in Income Tax - which is €92m (1%) higher than predicted. Meanwhile Corporation Tax take was €335m (9.1%) higher than expected at over €4bn.

That more than offset the weaker-than-expected take from VAT and Excise Duties, which were behind target by €69m (1%) and €118m (7.1%), respectively.

On the spending side the Government's net voted expenditure stood at almost €23.7bn by the end of June, which was 8.5% higher than a year ago but slightly below the amount planned for in Budget 2018.

However spending in certain areas of the Government was running higher than planned, with the Department of Health €168m over-target in the first half of 2018.

Non-voted expenditure stood at €5.5bn, an increase of 5% caused by higher debt servicing costs and a bigger contribution to the European Union budget.

The Exchequer deficit of €823m compares to a surplus of almost €2.5bn a year ago, though this figure was boosted by the Government's sale of some AIB shares.