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Number of houses being built up 55pc

HOUSE building is on the increase in Ireland as new homes increased by 55pc on an annual basis.

New figures provided by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) identified that 342 new houses were started during the first month of the year, compared to 220 in January 2012. Although the figures are minute compared to those at the height of the boom, CIF said that it represents a pick up in the residential market.

Among the areas to see more housing starts were Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, Fingal, Galway County, Carlow, Meath and Wicklow.

However, there was less positive news for the construction industry on house completions, with the number of houses finished falling by 18.5pc in January compared to the year before.

CIF Director Hubert Fitzpatrick said that the statistics highlight a two-speed nature of the residential market at the moment.

"We're seeing activity picking up in the more urban areas on a general level while the rural areas are suffering from the overhang in residential housing stock," he said.