UPDATE 1-Ireland back in recession as bailout exit approaches
* GDP shrank 0.6 percent on quarterly basis in Jan-March
* Revised data shows three quarters of contraction
* Data, debt costs may raise questions over bailout exit
(Adds comment, detail on economy, consumption and exports)
DUBLIN, June 27 (Reuters) - Ireland's economy slipped into recession with 2012 growth revised sharply lower, indicating the bailed-out euro member's recovery from financial crisis will be much slower than previously thought.
Gross domestic product shrank 0.6 percent in the first quarter from the previous three months, data showed on Thursday, while revised figures also showed quarterly shrinkage of 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012.
The latest figure was far behind analysts' forecast of 0.3 percent growth and combined with the unexpectedly sharp 2012 downturn, means Ireland has had three successive quarters of contraction and is in its first recession since 2009.
"It clearly shows that we're not immune to what's going on globally. Given these numbers you'd be hard pushed to have growth for the year as a whole," said Alan McQuaid, economist at Merrion Stockbrokers.
Ireland has been one of the few euro zone countries to have eked out mild growth as the currency bloc's debt crisis has unfolded, despite harsh spending cuts and tax hikes imposed to help bring down one of Europe's highest budget deficits.
The second euro member to be rescued in November 2010, it is due to complete its bailout later this year and has already made a limited return to bond markets, although yields on its bonds have started to rise again.
Analysts say it has enough cash to cover most of its funding needs through next year, however, and should exit the aid deal on schedule, providing the European Union with a success story for austerity.
Overall, the economy grew by just 0.2 percent last year, rather than the 0.9 percent initially thought, and an export-led recovery stalled in the second half of 2012 due to the slowdown in the rest of the euro zone.
The Irish government is targeting growth to bounce back this year to about 1.5 percent and return towards the level seen in 2011 when the economy expanded by 2.2 percent, a figure that was revised up on Thursday.
But that now looks unrealistic after personal consumption fell 3.0 percent in the first quarter, its sharpest drop in four years. Exports of goods and services had an even steeper decline of 3.2 percent, the sharpest since Ireland's economic crisis took hold. ($1 = 0.7691 euros)
(Additional reporting by Padraic Halpin and Sam Cage.)