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Most people leaving are foreign workers

MOST people emigrating are foreign workers, new statistics show.

Of the 65,300 people who emigrated in the year up to April 2010, just 27,700 were Irish while the rest were foreign nationals either returning home or moving to countries with better economic conditions.

"This issue has been over-hyped and you have to look at the figures behind the headline numbers," said Deirdre Cullen, a senior statistician at the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Before the election, Taoiseach Enda Kenny described emigration as a "national heartache", quoting figures from the Economic Social and Research Institute that showed 1,000 people a week were leaving the country.

The new census figures, due to be released at the end of June, will paint a more updated picture and will show whether Irish emigration is at mass levels, Ms Cullen said.

She added that while there was evidence the figures had been increasing in the past year, she was not expecting the figure to be dramatically higher than the 65,300 for last year.

"You also have to remember that 250,000 people moved to Ireland during the boom years and many are continuing to return home," she said.

Migration expert and Trinity College sociology professor James Wickham warned that panic surrounding the issue could become a self-fulfilling prophesy unless addressed.

"There is a danger that you assume there are no jobs here, life here is intolerable and that makes you overestimate the problems here and underestimate those abroad and that is a standard emigration issue."

Irish Independent