Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has attacked the Irish government for driving "nine Irish people an hour" out of the country.

Adams highlighted the Republic’s shocking rise in emigration as he renewed calls for a united Ireland at his party’s annual congress.

Delegates to the meeting in Killarney gave Adams a standing ovation after he criticized the government on emigration.

“We now have continued exodus of our young people due to the recession,” said Adams.

“In this State, around 70,000 people are emigrating each year. That’s nine citizens every hour.

“Rural Ireland, and especially the West, is being devastated. But it is an indictment of the two men from the West who lead this bad Government. Shame on you, Taoiseach (Prime Minister). Shame on you, Tanaiste (deputy PM).

“Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore are out of their depth. The Government simply cannot be trusted on the fiscal stability treaty.”

The Louth deputy again called for a United Ireland at a meeting dominated by the recession and the forthcoming referendum on the EU Fiscal Treaty.

Adams said: “A united Ireland makes sense, a single Island economy makes sense.

“It does not make sense on an island this size and with a population of six million to have two states, two bureaucracies, two sets of government departments and two sets of agencies competing for inward investment.

“Harmonising our systems will save money, improve efficiency and create jobs.”

Adams also claimed: “A new, agreed, united Ireland will emerge through a genuine process of national reconciliation.

“But that union must happen through a cordial union.”