For the first time since 2009, the number of people coming to Ireland exceeds those leaving the country.
Latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that the number of immigrants to the State in the year to April increased by almost 15%.
In particular, the number of Irish nationals returning to Ireland rose from 12,100 to 21,100 over the year — a 74% increase.
There was an overall increase of 79,300 in the number of people coming to the country, up from 69,300, with the number of emigrants falling from 80,900 to 76,200.
Most people leaving the country were students or had been employed before their departure, with one in 10 (10.4%) unemployed.
A breakdown of education attainment shows that more than half (57.1%) of those aged 15 and over emigrating had a third-level degree.
The combined changes resulted in a return to net inward migration for Ireland at 3,100 for the first time in seven years. This compares to a net outward migration of 11,600 in the previous year.
Irish nationals continue to leave the country but at a much lower level than the previous year, falling from 23,200 to 10,700.
Of the 76,200 people who emigrated in the year to April 2016, 41.7% were Irish nationals.
The number of Irish nationals leaving the country had fallen by 3,500 (9.9%) in the year to April 2015 when 35,300 emigrated.
Nationals from outside the EU accounted for 31,800 (40.1%) of immigrants and 18,500 (24.3%) of emigrants, resulting in a net inward migration of 13,300.
Over the 12-month period, there were 65,000 births and 30,000 deaths, resulting in a natural population increase of 35,300. The previous year, there was a natural increase of 37,400 when there were 67,000 births and 29,600 deaths.
The combined effect of all the changes was an increase in the estimated total population from 4,635,400 in April 2015 to 4,673,700 in April 2016, a rise of 38,400.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan welcomed the CSO figures showing that net inward migration over the year to April had “turned positive” for the first time since 2009.
The National Youth Council of Ireland welcomed the return of 19,700 young migrants over the 12-month period to June 2016, up from 14,700 last year.
It called on the Government to do more to ensure the availability of quality jobs and affordable housing so more people would return to Ireland.
The representative body for youth organisations said substantial work was still needed to stem the tide of young people having to leave Ireland and provide opportunities for them to return in the future.
Around 31,700 young people aged 15 to 24 emigrated over the year, up 1,300 on the 30,400 in 2015. With 19,700 young people coming back into the country, net emigration was 12,000, down from 15,700 in 2015.
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