Cowen slammed over jobless figures
The opposition has launched a fierce attack on Taoiseach Brian Cowen's Cabinet reshuffle after official figures showed more than 13pc of the workforce is unemployed.
Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Fein rounded on Mr Cowen after he chose not to create a single ministry charged with driving recovery in the devastated jobs market.
More than a quarter of a million people are out of work with twice as many men languishing on growing dole queues as women.
Richard Bruton, Fine Gael finance spokesman, said the report showed 69,100 fewer people were in the labour force at the end of the year after disenchanted jobseekers left in their droves.
"The scourge of emigration is rife again as our best and brightest are fleeing the country to find work. Other countries are reaping the reward of our skilled and talented workforce. Ireland's future recovery depends on a new generation, but this future is being hollowed out," he said.
The Central Statistics Office said more than 267,000 people were unemployed at the end of last year - 189,100 men and 78,400 women. Some 77,000 men, mostly from construction, joined the hunt for scarce jobs during 2009.
The latest quarterly national household survey showed 1,887,700 people in work in the last three months of 2009, an annual decrease of 166,900.
Joan Burton, Labour's spokeswoman on finance, said the big let down in the re-shuffle was no single minister has responsibility for jobs. We need to focus like a laser on the jobs crisis which shows no sign of abating," she said.
"One startling aspect of the final 2009 figures, is the massive cohort of young people who are now out of work in Ireland."
Labour warned the normal unemployment rate in the future could be as high as 8pc.