Ireland's debt could near record levels

Ireland's debt could return to near record levels due to Covid-19.

The Irish Fiscal Advisory Council says it could reach 160% of gross national income - up from 99% in 2019.

In its latest financial assessment, it also warns it could take up to three and a half years for the economy to return to pre-crisis levels.

But IFAC chairman Sebastian Barnes says a scenario similar to the financial crash in 2008 can be avoided.

"We think that as the economy recovers, there will be a need for a sizeable need for an economic stimulus package to support the economy while employment is high.

"But further ahead there will be another phase where the economy will have reached some kind of new normal state.

"There will need to be some fiscal adjustment to get the public finances back into shape given the high levels of debt, but it should be possible to avoid a return to severe austerity."

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