|Irish manufacturing output contracted at its fastest rate in almost four years in April, as sluggish demand both at home and abroad dragged down the eurozone economy.
The NCB Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 48 in April, from 48.6 in March. The latest deterioration was the sharpest since September 2011.
Irish manufacturing had been a bright spot in a generally bleak eurozone landscape until March, when it fell below the 50 line separating growth from contraction for the first time in more than a year.
The sector, which accounts for about a quarter of Ireland's economy, compared with 10.5pc in Britain, saw the steepest decline in output since August 2009, while the rate of job cuts was the fastest in 19 months.
"On the evidence of today's report, Q2 has gotten off to an uninspiring start for the Irish manufacturing sector," said Philip O'Sullivan, chief economist at NCB Stockbrokers.
"Panellists cited weakening market demand, fuelled by deteriorating economic conditions in Ireland and across Europe, as a key factor behind this softer reading. The sluggish new orders, new export orders and stocks of purchases readings suggest that a near-term recovery in output is unlikely."
Bailed-out Ireland expects its economy to grow modestly for the third year in a row this year, but trimmed its forecast for growth on Tuesday after the economy contracted in the third quarter of 2012 and was flat in the fourth.
The government now expects the Irish economy to grow by 1.3pc this year, from a December estimate of 1.5pc. The finance ministry had hoped for GDP growth of 2.2pc this time last year.
Elsewhere, Dutch manufacturing shrank in April for the third month running as new orders continued to slide.
The NEVI/DPA Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) stood at 48.2 for April, edging up from 48 a month earlier. Index compiler Markit said the decline came as production fell for the second month running while new orders were down for the seventh month in a row.
"Survey respondents commented on strong competition, squeezed client budgets and lacklustre market demand as factors constraining new orders," Markit said in a statement.