Foreign direct investment to Ireland will fall this year due to the Covid-19 crisis, according to EY Ireland.

The latest report from the professional services firm, reveals that while the pandemic will disrupt 20% of Irish projects, the remaining 80% will be maintained.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Feargal De Freine, Partner and Head of FDI with EY Ireland said the picture "isn't entirely gloomy".

He said while investment may slow, it will continue.

"What we will see throughout 2020 is either a delay of investment that might spill over into next year, or that investment will continue but that it will be slightly curtailed," he said.

On a Europe wide level, the report reveals a more cautious approach from investors.

It states that 65% of projects announced in 2019 will be delivered on time, while a further 25% are expected to de delayed and 10% to be cancelled.

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Before the outbreak, Europe had one of its strongest years ever in terms of FDI, attracting 6,412 projects in 47 countries.

The report also reveals that in 2019, Ireland ranked eighth most attractive European country for foreign investors, up from tenth place in 2018.

France became Europe's top destination for FDI, attracting 1,197 new projects, a 17% annual increase.

Despite Brexit uncertainty, FDI in the UK climbed 5%, placing it second in the rankings, losing its top rank for the first time.

Investment in Germany was in third place, while Spain took fourth place.

Despite moving up in the rankings, Ireland did report a 7% drop in the number of FDI projects in 2019, attracting 191 projects, compared to 205 in 2018.

Mr De Freine said the 2019 decline does not worry him, as it follows "exceptionally strong" levels of investment in 2018.

"In 2018 the level of investment increased by 40%, so I think when I look at the performance in 2019, I take great encouragement from the fact that we have essentially sustained that big step increase that we saw after the Brexit impact," he said.

The analysis shows that investment projects from European companies into other European countries represented more than half of FDI in the past three years.

The US continues to be the most active investor country in Ireland, accounting for 61% of 2019 projects.

A number of different factors are set to drive investment decisions in a post Covid-19 world.

Mr De Freine explained, "Investors in the immediate term are looking at governments policy responses to Covid-19 and what types of assistance might be available. Investors are also looking into the three to five year time period. Encouragingly for Ireland, some of the key areas that investors will be focused on will firstly be the space of digital and technology, and Ireland is already very strong in what we call high value added services, certainly compared to the rest of Europe".

He added that the report indicated that Ireland is well placed moving forward.

"I think what we are seeing in terms of people being able to work from home, being able to leverage technology in their daily lives, that investment will continue and the talent pool and track record for Ireland in this space is going to be important," he said.