Twenty two percent of people in Ireland now see emigration as a possibility for them and their loved ones because of the ongoing economic crisis. The shock figure is released in a new Sunday Independent newspaper poll.

Opposition parties have long maintained that unemployment is being held lower than the 500,000 mark because of forced emigration. Canada and Australia have become the destinations of choice for emigrants.

Meanwhile the level of personal debt has reached record levels according to the survey, with 27 percent saying they feel ashamed because they cannot pay a bill while 20 percent are worried that they may lose their homes.

There are now 16 full-time sheriff's bailiffs employed to seize goods and force evictions, the highest number ever. However, the newspaper reports that even in posh homes they visit there is usually very little left to take.

Now the Sheriffs’ Association has asked the government to come up with new laws that they say are needed to deal with the current crisis.

"A lot of the rules we are working on date back to 1926. We asked for powers to deal with the modern-day situation. The main thing we wanted was to get the information on what is owned, such as properties and bank accounts," said a spokesman.

Mainly they want to be able to distinguish between those who can afford to pay back but won't and those who are unable to.

Canada and Australia are favored destinations for Irish emigrants.