Irish emigration – most to go Britain

I’m probably lagging behind on this so apologies if you’re au fait but I’ve just caught up with the Irish( republic)  emigrant figures for the last year  – 76, 400 to end of April 2011, up 17%, according to the Irish Times report. I decided to search for them as most of the news stories I saw last year highlighted the US and old Commonwealth countries as emigration destinations but barely mentioned Britain. Can that really be true I thought? And indeed it wasn’t, especially taking into account to difference between temporary work visits and longer ones. So I wonder if traces remain of an old reluctance to acknowledge GB, or the thought that making Britain as the destination of choice is somehow less sexy that further afield?  Granted that Oz is booming but none of the others is…


Some 16,130 (UK) national insurance numbers were issued to Irish citizens in the 12 months to the end of March, a 56 per cent increase on the previous year.

Australia, the number of temporary Irish residents increased by 6,193 to 20,493 in the first six months of this year. There was a rise of 3,311 in the number of working holidaymakers, aged between 18 and 30, in the six months to the end of June to 12,945.

The number of Irish people employed on sponsored skilled work (long stay) visas increased by 2,877 in the six months to the end of June to 7,421, highlighting that more Irish emigrants are filling posts where skill deficits exist.

Canada issued 3,869 work permits to Irish citizens in the first six months of this year, more than the 3,729 it issued during all of 2010.

The US issued a total of 17,755 non-immigrant visas – covering students’ work programmes, intra-company transfers and other temporary workers – in the 11 months to December, a 22 per cent increase on the previous year.

A total of 306 immigrant visas were issued to Irish people in the 11 months to December, a slight increase on the previous year. Irish immigrant groups in the US also reported an increase in the number of undocumented Irish who remained in the country after their visas expired.

New Zealand’s department of labour said a total of 4,400 Irish people were granted work permits in the year to the end of June, up 10 per cent. Year-long working holiday visas accounted for about 60 per cent of the total

Surprisingly perhaps…

There was also a rise in the number of Irish returning to the State in the same period (up 3,800 to 17,000) but net outward migration among Irish people increased by 60 per cent from 14,400 to 23,100 year on year.


Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London