TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has set himself against Fine Gael claims that our "brightest and best" are emigrating because tax is too high.
Mr Gilmore was responding to Transport Minister Leo Varadkar's claim in the Irish Independent that highly qualified, younger workers are going to Canada, the US and Australia because they are getting "a better lifestyle, higher pay and lower taxes".
But Mr Gilmore was adamant that "taxation isn't the issue" in relation to emigration.
"The issue in relation to emigration, in my view, is much more about the availability of work here rather than the issue of taxation," the Tanaiste said.
Mr Varadkar said tax cuts must be put on the agenda once Ireland gets out of the bailout, since younger workers are being forced into the higher tax brackets as they move up the career ladder.
A spokesman for Mr Varadkar said he and the Tanaiste had a "difference of opinion", but the Transport Minister repeated his point yesterday.
"Even if you do get promoted, the Government takes 52pc of that away from you, or even higher if you are a public servant, and people who are calling for even more tax need to think about that because there is a risk we will drive overseas some of our best people," Mr Varadkar said.
But Mr Gilmore said: "We have to draw a distinction between people who leave because they want to work elsewhere.
"The people I'm really concerned with are the people who leave the country because they can't get work, and that's why our focus is the creation of jobs so people, everybody, can have the opportunity of working here," he said.
"There will always be people who want to work abroad. I know people myself who have gone because they have been promoted or something else.
"That's a natural part of the movement of people in employment these days. But as far as emigration goes, we have to provide the jobs here so that those who want to work in Ireland will have opportunities."