More migrants quitting Ireland than any EU state
The number of people leaving Ireland has swelled far beyond those of every other country in the EU, according to research.
An estimated 40,000 people emigrated last year, according to the EU's statistics office, Eurostat.
The rate of departure is almost twice as high as that of Lithuania, the next most-affected country.
The expectation is that the flow may worsen as the country faces years of severe financial difficulties.
A research institute has warned that 200,000 people, out of a population of 4.5 million, may emigrate by 2015 if employment prospects do not improve.
Some of those leaving are thought to be immigrants who arrived in large numbers from mainland Europe over the last decade and who, now jobless, are returning home.
But a large proportion are young Irish males who, with unemployment running at more than 13pc, see little prospect of obtaining work. In particular, large numbers in the building industry are on the dole with construction almost shuddered to a halt.
The unprecedented prosperity of the Celtic Tiger years seemed to have consigned the country's emigration woes to the history books. Its reappearance is viewed with dismay.
Willie Penrose of the Labour party said: "Ninety years after our state was established, Irish people should be able to expect to live and find work in their own country. It is a shocking indictment of Fianna Fail that they turned the successful economy handed over to them in 1997 into the current disastrous situation."