Irish national debt equates to €43,357 for every man, woman and child in the State

CSO statistics show State’s headline debt fell by €11.4bn to €224.8bn at the end of 2022

The Republic’s national debt stood at €224.8 billion at the end of last year, equating to €43,357 for every man, woman and child in the State, which is high internationally in per-capita terms.

The latest government financial statistics produced by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show the State’s headline debt fell by €11.4 billion to €224.8 billion at the end of 2022.

However, with significant borrowing required during the pandemic years, the level of debt remains €21.4 billion higher than in 2019, the agency said.

It also noted that with the continued strong performance of GDP (gross domestic product), the State’s debt ratio has decreased from 54.4 per cent at the end of 2021 to 44.4 per cent at the end of last year.


“This is largely due to the continued strong performance of GDP in the year,” it said.

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The Irish Fiscal Advisory Council (Ifac) has warned that the State is unlikely to face any major scrutiny of its financial position or be constrained from spending under the European Union’s new fiscal rules because of the inflated nature of its GDP figures.

The budgetary watchdog recently noted that “given the use of GDP, Ireland will most likely be classified as a low-debt country”.

Compliance with the deficit rules will also continue to be helped by “surges in corporation tax receipts”, it said.

With EU rules unlikely to act as a guardrail, Ifac believes the Government should adhere to its own 5 per cent spending rule but its revised spending plans, contained in the budget, will see this broken every year out to 2026.

The EU’s debt and deficit rules were suspended during Covid-19. However, a revamped version, allowing governments greater leeway to invest while attempting to rein in fiscal recklessness, is now being proposed by the European Commission.

The CSO figures showed the Coalition recorded a positive general government balance of €8.5 billion in 2022, an improvement of €15.1 billion on the 2021 deficit of €6.6 billion.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times