Despite the projection that 45,000 Irish will emigrate next year, Prime Minister Brian Cown denies that the country will experience the mass exodus levels seen in the 1950s and 1980s.

"No, we're not going back to those days. What we're talking about here is that we've many people who have come to Ireland over the past 10 years, some of whom are returning home because the job opportunities are no longer there which brought them here in the first place," he said.

Cowen said that some of the people were emigrating “voluntarily” and some of it was due to foreign nationals heading home.

"This year I think we've around 65,000 who left and 30,000 who came in, so it's a flow of people coming and going and we're simply reflecting that in the projections we're making for the four-year plan," he said.

Cowen was asked if there was a new emigration problem in the country, he said there was a need to get a “net employment situation” in Ireland.

"The only way we can do that is bring our public finances back into order," said Cowen.

"That's how you get confidence and investment going again."