FEWER people have left Ireland in 2014 than at any time throughout the last three years, new statistics show.
The stream of people emigrating during the recession appears to be slowing, according to Central Statistics Office figures.
The CSO says that 81,900 people left Ireland in the 12 months to April 2014, down from the recession high of 89,000 the previous year.
Net emigration of Irish nationals - obtained when you subtract the number who returned from the number who left - also fell by 17pc in the year to 29,200.
The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) welcomed the reduction in the number of young people leaving last year.
But it pointed out that the figures were still extremely high, and many of those leaving were highly skilled and educated and Ireland was losing out.
"As the economy starts to show signs of economic recovery, the development of a strategy on return migration is essential to remove barriers to return and to support, facilitate and indeed welcome emigrants back," said NYCI policy officer Marie Claire McAleer.
"We hope the forthcoming Government policy on the diaspora will have a focus on facilitating return migration and responding to the needs of young Irish emigrants abroad," she added.
Difficulties highlighted by the NYCI include issues for emigrants getting their credit history or car insurance record recognised here when they return.
Minister of State for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan is developing a package of measures for emigrants in the US which is believed will include the right to vote in Irish presidential elections for emigrants.
CSO figures show that while 81,900 people left Ireland in the last year, some 60,600 people returned or moved here from other countries, meaning that net migration from the country - including all nationalities - has fallen by 35pc to 21,400 people.
Statistics show that the numbers travelling to most key destinations were down, with a 50pc fall in the numbers going to Australia, an 11pc drop to Canada, and an 18pc drop to Britain.