Record high of 87,000 left State in year to April


EMIGRATION FROM the Republic continued to increase last year, with more than 87,000 people leaving the State, the highest number recorded to date.

Migration statistics published by the Central Statistics Office show 46,500 Irish people moved abroad in the year to April, a rise of 16 per cent on the previous 12 months and a 260 per cent increase on 2007 figures, when just 12,900 Irish people emigrated.

Some 87,100 people of all nationalities left the Republic in the period, up from 80,600 the previous year. Irish nationals accounted for 53 per cent of the total.

The United Kingdom attracted 19,000 people, while 8,600 went to the United States and 35,600 to “rest of the world” destinations, which could reflect the popularity of working holiday visa programmes in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The number of Irish women emigrating rose from 17,500 to 20,600, while the number of Irish men leaving rose from 24,500 to 26,000.

Emigration among foreign nationals increased for the third year in a row, to 40,600.

The number of immigrants fell slightly from 53,300 to 52,700 over the same period. This figure includes 20,600 Irish people who came back to live in Ireland, the third annual rise in a row. The number is still much lower than in 2007, when 30,700 Irish emigrants returned.

Just 2,200 people from the UK moved to Ireland, while 17,600 people arrived from EU countries and 12,400 from the rest of the world.

People aged 25-44 accounted for the largest number of emigrants, with 39,500 people in this age group leaving the State. This increased from 31,300 in the previous 12 months.

Some 35,800 in the 15-24 age group emigrated, up from 34,500 the previous year. A total of 900 under-14s left, in addition to 5,600 in the 45-64 age group and 1,200 aged over 65.

The UK was the most popular destination for emigrants, with 19,000 moving there. This marked a reduction of 1,000 on last year. Some 24,000 moved to EU countries.

A total of 52,700 people came to live in the Republic in the 12 months to April, a fall of 65 per cent since 2007, when immigration peaked. Some 25,000 men immigrated last year, compared with 80,000 in 2007.

Responding to the statistics, Piaras Mac Éinrí and Caitriona Ní Laoire of the Department of Geography in University College Cork said that although emigration has been “a consistent feature” of Irish life, the fact that the increase in emigration has coincided with the economic collapse would indicate that it is “not voluntary”.

A research project into recent Irish emigration by UCC beginning next month will investigate factors such as gender, education and class to establish what social factors influence emigration.

Assistant director of the National Youth Council of Ireland James Doorley expressed “serious concern” at the figures, saying they “underline the need for immediate and stronger Government action to stem the flow of young people leaving the country”.

Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín said more people left Ireland than sat the Leaving Cert last year. “A generation is being lost to emigration . . . It is time that the Government reflected on this and changed policies in favour of ones that place our people and employment above bankers and developers.”

The CSO figures also show 74,000 babies were born in the 12 months to April, while 29,200 people died. This brings the natural population growth for the year to 44,900, a fall of 2,600 on the previous year.

However, the rise in emigration has slowed population growth, with the overall population growing by 10,500 to 4.59 million.

The figures include revisions to the population and migration estimates for the 2007-2011 period using data from the Census 2011 published earlier this year.

The male population is estimated to have fallen by 900 in the year ending in April, the first time a reduction has been recorded since 1990. This fall is attributed to the fall of 8,900 non-Irish men.