Signs that the construction sector operating in the province may finally be heading towards recovery have been welcomed by government and the industry.
It follows the publication of the Northern Ireland Construction Bulletin which shows the latest estimates of construction output in Northern Ireland rose by six per cent in the last quarter of 2014.
Although the figures are preliminary, they suggest that the sector hardest hit by the property crash may now be back in growth within the province itself althoug local firms have continued to expand their business in GB and beyond.
“The construction industry is vitally important to the economy in Northern Ireland, employing nearly 60,000 people,” said Finance Minister Simon Hamilton, whose department produces the bulletin.
“The figures published today are very encouraging, with a notable increase in new work here signalling an important step in the recovery of the local building trade.”
Construction of new houses accounted for the sharpest increase at 8.9 per cent while infrastructure building was up by 3.6 per cent.
“Public sector investment is a substantial part of total construction investment,” added Mr Hamilton.
“This investment shows the Executive’s ongoing commitment to investing in infrastructure projects that will improve public services, support the construction sector and boost the Northern Ireland economy.”
The figures were also welcomed by industry body the Construction Employers Federation which also sounded a cautinoary note however.
“The increase in construction output in the final quarter of 2014 is positive news for the local industry,” said a spokesman.
“Overall, 2014 marks the first year since 2007 in which output has not significantly declined year on year.
“It is too early to say for certain, but we firmly hope that this means we have reached the bottom.”