Ireland not heading for mass emigration -- Cowen
Ireland is not returning to the dark days of mass emigration, Taoiseach Brian Cowen pledged today.
With 100,000 people predicted to flee over the next four years, Mr Cowen accepted the Government had been unable to create enough jobs.
But the Taoiseach said the country was not facing the prospect of a repeat of the huge exodus of young workers in the 1950s and 1980s.
"We're not going back to those days," Mr Cowen said.
"What we're talking about here is the fact that we have many people who have come to Ireland over the past 10 years, many of whom are also returning home because the job opportunities obviously are no longer there in the numbers that there were.
"And there are also many of our own people who are leaving, some voluntarily, some because we haven't been able to produce enough jobs in the immediate term."
Mr Cowen said 65,000 people left the country this year, while 30,000 came in.
The Government yesterday revealed taxpayers would be hit with a €6bn slash-and-burn budget next month, with spending cuts making up two-thirds of the package.
Outlining details of the four-year budgetary plan the Department of Finance revealed it expects 100,000 people to emigrate up to 2014, with 45,000 to go next year.
"There's a flow of people coming and going so we're simply reflecting that in the projections for the four-year plan," Mr Cowen added.
Meanwhile, efforts to calm investors' fears by revealing the Budget target for next year appear to have had little impact, with the cost of borrowing on international markets hitting 7.7pc.
But in a boost to the Government's efforts the EU's Internal Markets Commissioner Michel Barnier predicted the situation would improve.
"I know your government and you as a parliament are taking courageous measures," Mr Barnier told the Oireachtas European Affairs Committee.
"I am confident that there is light at the end of the tunnel."
Mr Barnier also moved to assuage fears that Europe could force a hike in Ireland's 12.5% corporation tax by insisting the country would keep control of its tax policies.