Noonan questions emigrants' motives for the second time
FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan has again flirted with the controversial issue of "lifestyle" emigration after pointing out that not everyone was leaving for work.
Mr Noonan last year faced the wrath of thousands of families blighted by emigration after saying young people were leaving for "lifestyle reasons".
Yesterday, while stopping short of repeating the phrase, he said it was interesting that the vast majority of those leaving weren't looking for jobs.
He was speaking after research from University College Cork (UCC) warned that the country is experiencing a severe brain-drain, with almost two-thirds of emigrants having a third-level qualification.
Almost half of all emigrants left full-time jobs, while one in eight worked part-time. They reported much higher levels of satisfaction with the quality of their lifestyles abroad.
Mr Noonan said: "The interesting finding was that three-quarters of the young Irish emigrating have jobs. Half of them are in permanent jobs.
"So there are issues other than unemployment driving them abroad," he said.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government would be working to rectify the situation and provide more highly skilled jobs such as the 150 announced by US online research company Qualtrics in Dublin.
However, Mr Kenny said there were signs of confidence beginning to return to the economy, with 3,000 new jobs being created each month.
The UCC research found Ireland has the highest levels of emigration in the EU, even though other countries had the same problems. It also found that 82pc of emigrants would love to return home if economic conditions improved.
Sinn Fein European elections candidate Cllr Matt Carthy said emigration levels were a sign that austerity was not working.
"The fact that so many young people see no future in Ireland is an indictment of the failed politicies of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael," he said.