Ireland's Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Mary Coughlan has come under heavy criticism, after stating on British television that emigration in Ireland was a legitimate response to the current economic hardship there.

“Since when has it been a good thing to be exporting our best and brightest who have had an education that we have paid for and who won't be working at home,” questioned Fine Gael TC Pascal Donohoe.

Coughlan also said that emigration was used as a means for young people to discover the world and enjoy themselves.

Donohoe hit back saying, "Well, I challenge the Tánaiste to go to any of these airports from which our young people are leaving and find people who are enjoying themselves as they leave the country in which they were born.

"Emigration is not an entitlement. It's not about enjoyment. It's about the fact we have 20,000 young people in Dublin under the age of 25 who are signing on.

"It's about the fact that two thirds of young people in Limerick are signing on to the dole. It's a catastrophe. It’s not a policy."