Irish emigration at highest point since Famine -- 3,000 leaving per month

Union of Students in Ireland protest forced emigration from Ireland next to the Famine memorial in Dublin

The latest figures from the Central Statistics office show that more than 3,000 Irish people are leaving the country each month, the highest number since the Famine.

Up to 76,000 people left Ireland in the 12 months leading up to April, including an estimated 40,000 Irish nationals. Despite the alarming numbers leaving Irish shores, CSO statisticians say that many who are leaving are not necessarily Irish citizens.

CSO figures show that 42,300 people moved to Ireland over the last twelve months, with almost half of these returning to Irish soil after their year long visas expired  in Australia and other countries. Some 8,400 moved to Ireland from the UK and the old EU member countries. A further 7,900 came from other countries throughout the world.

According to an Irish Independent report, the number of people leaving Ireland has more than doubled over the last two years. New figures show that on average, 111 Irish people are now departing Ireland each day.

"You'd have to go back to the 1800s to get levels like that," CSO's Deirdre Cullen told the newspaper.

The vast majority of Irish emigrants are heading to English speaking countries such as Britain, Canada, Australia, US and New Zealand.

Based in Co. Kilkenny, spokesman Declan Clune told the Irish Independent that  more than 30,000 people have emigrated to Australia in the twelve months leading up to June 30.

“All of these people are people who have the right to work -- permanent residency, sponsorships and working holiday makers -- not tourists,"  Clune said

According to the CSO, Dublin residents are least likely to move abroad while people living in the Leinster region are more likely to emigrate.

The Unions of Students in Ireland president Gary Redmond said that soaring unemployment and emigration were hampering the Government’s ambition of creating a smart economy.

"Masses of highly skilled graduates are leaving for distant shores, taking with them the future prosperity of this island,” he told the newspaper.

Commenting on the figures, the CSO said it was difficult to capture the true extent of the immigration crisis.