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THE number of fathers forced to leave their families in Ireland to look for work abroad has increased.

Migration company Visafirst said it has identified a 70pc increase in the number of fathers leaving for Australia without their families.

The majority intend to bring their partners and children over at a later date.

A significant 2,000 family men obtained visas for the continent throughout last year, research has shown.

The vast majority of these men work in the construction sector.

"They usually travel out four to six months before their family members," said Visafirst migration expert Edwina Shanahan. "While they are there for the first few months, they look for accommodation, schools, child-minding facilities, etc.

"At the same time, they send money home for flights and other costs associated with moving."

Visafirst says Canada is also popular, more so with fathers whose families are not relocating, due to its proximity.

Employment opportunities in Australia are still looking up as job offers grew by 38,900 last year.