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Emigration 'at famine levels' as 200 leave country each day

MORE than 200 people a day left Ireland during 2012, as emigration surged to levels not experienced since the famine.

The scale of the exodus is such that it dented Ireland's baby boom, as so many young women were among those who left.

Figures obtained by the Irish Independent show where many of those emigrants went during the last year.

Some 87,000 people emigrated from Ireland in the year to April 2012, three times as many as the annual exodus during the boom years.

Almost 16,000 headed to Britain, according to figures from the UK Department of Work and Pensions, which show the nationality of new applicants for social insurance numbers there.

The figure was around twice as many as headed across the Irish Sea during the boom, and does not include children and non-working spouses who moved with their families.

Australia remained a big draw, with the number of permanent migrants from Ireland soaring by 33pc to 4,938 in a year.

Ireland was now among the top 10 source countries for migration to Australia, the authorities there noted.

The number of Irish availing of temporary work permits and working holiday visas in 2012 is not yet available, but it's likely to be on a par with the previous year's tally of 21,753.

Some 4,564 Irish people received work visas for New Zealand in the 2011/12 tax year, up nearly 40pc on four years ago.

And the outflow looks set to continue as another 2,199 Irish citizens were granted work visas to New Zealand between July 1 and December 1, 2012.

Edwina Shanahan of Dublin-based migration company Visafirst said there was a huge amount of country-hopping by Irish people in the Australia/ New Zealand region.

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"So many are on temporary work visas or working holiday visas that last for a year, so when that is up they look to go to the other country if they can't find a way of staying longer," she said.

On the other side of the world, Canada's booming economy made it one of the hotspots of Irish emigration in the past few years.

This will continue as a fresh round of visas is opened for skilled tradespeople in the building sector.

Some 5,293 temporary work visas were issued to Irish people last year, which was up 42pc on 2010, while another 662 got permanent status.

The western towns of Calgary and Edmonton were growing rapidly to challenge Toronto and Vancouver as favoured destinations for Irish emigrants, said Vancouver-based relocation expert Ruairi Spillane, who is originally from Killarney.


He said he'd been getting so many requests from Canadian construction companies looking for Irish workers that he quit his job last summer to set up moving2Canada.com.

"The mood is really positive in general. I love it here and I'm pretty sure most Irish people enjoy their time, though homesickness is an issue for many as it's a long way from home," said Mr Spillane.

Some 17,143 Irish people and their families were granted temporary work permits to the United States, while another 1,533 obtained permanent resident status, according to the US Office of Immigration Statistics for 2011 – the most recent available.

Those figures were up from around 14,000 the previous year.

Central Statistics Office figures show that 87,000 people left Ireland in the 12 months to April 2012, including 46,500 Irish nationals.

Official figures also show the wave of emigration is taking its toll on the Irish birth rate.

There were 1,200 fewer born in 2011 than the previous year, as there were fewer women around to have babies.

Professor Michael Turner of the UCD Centre for Human Reproduction said the fact that many women in their twenties and thirties were leaving Ireland was having a noticeable effect on the birth rate.

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