Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has stated that he deeply regrets that thousands of young people have to emigrate.

He was speaking to the Irish media in an end of year interview.

"I don't like to see people having to go away," said Kenny. "This is something that I have seen as a child on so many occasions. Where I come from emigration was endemic unfortunately because of the economic crisis."

Kenny grew up in rural County Mayo during the 1950s when emigration was rampant.

He says people must realize that hard choices lie ahead.



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"Nobody's going to walk in here and say, 'I'll fix this for you'," Kenny said. "It's only going to get worse unless we deal with it and the choices are unpalatable. But I find genuinely from talking to people they know this and in many ways, the public are ahead of the political process."

He said the previous government had failed to make use of so many talented young people.

"I really feel that we've wasted so many years and wasted so much money on not actually focusing on how best we could deliver what we have," said  Kenny.

"My preference, obviously, is to have a situation where they can have jobs and careers here, but young people always want to be where the action is," he said.

Job creation, Kenny said, was the only way to tackle the long-term problem of emigration.