Foreign countries that benefit from Irish emigration should pay the State in return, according to one Irish Jesuit priest.

Fr Micheál Mac Gréil SJ made the comments when he addressed the St Patrick’s Day pilgrimage on Máméan in Connemara’s Maamturk mountains on Saturday, reports the Irish Times.

“When it costs the State an average of €85,000 to educate people to third-level, it is time that host countries paid a tax in return for the benefits accruing,” he said.

He said that the current trends in Irish emigration was symptomatic of a free movement of labor which has become an “international scandal”.

Countries such as Ireland will “never develop” while there is a “push-pull” factor attracting younger generations to stronger economies.

“The push is the crisis at home, the pull is the opportunity abroad,” Fr Mac Gréil said.

Fr Mac Gréil, former professor of sociology at NUI Maynooth described the Irish emigrants as “great ambassadors for Ireland”.

“But the reality is that it is a great loss for the country, and it would be better for young Ireland to be on the dole – and be creative – than to be emigrating,” he said.

An Irish Times survey published over the weekend showed that 59 percent of emigrants left by choice while 41 percent said they were forced to leave.

Irish sociologist believes countries should pay for profiting from Irish immigrants.Google Images