Emigration at highest level in a decade

Emigration figures reached their highest level in almost a decade in 2012, with an estimated 63,100 leaving the country.

Preliminary CSO estimates indicate emigration jumped 12% last year as the effects of the economic downturn continued to force many people to seek employment abroad.

The figures show the number of people emigrating has risen steadily since 2004, when 21,500 left the country.

The numbers have accelerated sharply since the start of the downturn in 2008, when an estimated 31,300 left the country.

The figures also show that fewer than half of emigrants who left Ireland last year moved to the traditional destinations of the UK and the US.

Australia and New Zealand surpassed the UK in 2012 as the destination of choice for most new emigrants. A total of 19,700 moved to the antipodean countries last year compared to the 19,000 who emig-rated to Britain.

However, the number of people moving to the US in 2012 almost doubled — up from 4,700 in 2011 to 8,600 last year.

Another 15,800 emigrated to “other countries” — which would include popular destinations such as Canada and EU states including Spain, France, and Germany.

In response to a parliamentary question, Eamon Gilmore, the Tánaiste and foreign affairs minister, said the Government had provided over €104m to non-profit organisations in the last decade to support Irish communities overseas.

Mr Gilmore said the Government had maintained such funding for the emigrant support programme in 2013 with an allocation of €11.6m, despite the difficult financial situation of the exchequer.

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