Europe

Irish economy grows Europe-leading 7.8 percent in 2015

Government statisticians say Ireland's economy grew by a Europe-leading 7.8 percent in 2015, its fastest rate in 15 years.

Ireland's rapid recovery from a 2010-2013 international bailout despite imposing stern austerity measures has surprised many economists.

Thursday's report found that gross domestic product — driven by the exports of 1,000 Ireland-based multinationals — experienced its strongest growth since 2000 during Ireland's construction-driven Celtic Tiger boom. Reckless bank lending to property developers forced Ireland to nationalize credit-starved banks starting in 2008 and ultimately overwhelmed the state's ability to finance itself.

Economists say they expect Ireland's growth to lead Europe again in 2016, barring shocks at home or abroad.

Ireland's lawmakers are currently trying to form a new coalition government following an inconclusive Feb. 26 election. That process could take weeks.