The value of construction projects started in the first three months of this year has fallen by 20pc to €1.69bn compared with the first quarter of 2014, according to the Building Information Index, which is produced by a team of researchers at Building Information Ireland (BII).

Danny O’Shea, managing director of BII, said five of the seven sectors measured by the index recorded a fall.

“The residential sector saw the most significant drop, falling from €874m in the first quarter of 2014 to €600m in the first quarter of 2015.

“Education also suffered a major decrease, falling by 68pc. By comparison, there was a significant increase of 54pc in the value of industrial construction projects started in the first three months of 2015, rising €154m in the first quarter of 2015.”

However, the value of construction project applications increased by 42pc to €3.64bn when compared to the same period in 2014.

The index reveals that the best performing sectors for the first three months of 2015 for applications were residential (+91pc) and commercial and retail (+59pc) with social recording the biggest fall (-78pc) followed by education (-15pc).

“The good news for the construction industry is that despite the drop recorded in the value of construction activity in the first quarter of 2015, overall, the data in the Building Information Index shows that the construction sector in Ireland is in recovery,” said O’Shea.