Ireland's unemployment rate rose to 5.5% in March from 5.2% in February as a separate benefits scheme for those who lost their job due to COVID-19 disruption ends, the Central Statistics Office said on Wednesday.

The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) scheme was closed for new applications in January. Final payments were made to remaining claimants this week who will transition to regular jobseekers' payments, if they are deemed eligible.

The unemployment rate, including people on the PUP scheme, stood at 7% at the end of February.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by Jason Neely)