Construction activity rose sharply last month with April marking the 68th consecutive month of stronger construction activity in Ireland.

The Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers' Index - which tracks changes in total construction activity - rose to 56.6 in April up from 55.9 in March.

Ulster Bank said that housing activity was the strongest performing sub-sector as growth in residential activity continues to show welcome signs of rapid expansion.

Commercial activity also increased last month, though at the slowest pace in six months. But for the eighth successive month, civil engineering activity declined, though at a weaker pace than in March.

The index shows that new orders continued to rise sharply amid reports from companies of improving demand conditions in April. 

But some companies also cautioned that Brexit uncertainty was weighing negatively on customers. 

Some firms also said they had raised their input purchases in order to mitigate any supply disruptions resulting from Brexit.

Ulster Bank said that in contrast to the faster rise in new business, employment growth in the Irish construction industry eased slightly during April. 

Despite this, the rate of job creation was sharp and quicker than the long-run series average with companies indicating that extra staff had been hired in order to keep up with customer demand.