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People returning home at highest level in 13 years after HSE's appeal

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Health workers returned

Health workers returned

Health workers returned

The number of people returning to live in Ireland from abroad is at its highest level since 2007.

New figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that 28,900 Irish nationals returned to live in Ireland in the year to April 2020, up from 26,900 from April 2019.

CSO statistician James Hegarty said the increase in returning Irish is in large part due to the Covid-19 pandemic which saw a HSE drive for the return of emigrant healthcare workers.

"Last year 26,900 Irish nationals returned from abroad. This year to April it was 28,900.

"We know between March and April there was a substantial enough repatriation due to the 'Be on Call for Ireland' HSE drive for healthcare workers.

"That would certainly play a part in increasing the number.

"The biggest previous number was in 2007, which was 30,700," he said.

The number of Irish returning dropped to a low of around 23,000 during the recession years but recovered in recent years.

"For the last few years it has been hovering around the 27,000/28,000 figure so it is marginally higher than other years, but a good bit higher than last year.

"More Irish nationals returned to live in Ireland in 2020 than left to live abroad, with 28,300 leaving and 28,900 returning, this is just the second time that this has happened since 2010," he said.

"There is a variety of reasons for fluctuations and the pandemic certainly had an impact in terms of those leaving there is not that many countries of choice to go to either.

"The US, for example, is closed off now and Brexit looming in the UK is also a factor," he said.

Deaths

The new figures also show Ireland's population has increased by an estimated 55,900 (1.1pc) to 4.98 million. This is compared to an increase of 64,500 (1.3pc) in the year to April 2019.

The number of non-Irish nationals estimated to be resident in Ireland now stands at 644,400, making up 12.9pc of the total population.

For the fifth consecutive year, non-Irish nationals from outside the EU were the largest single group of inward migrants.

Mr Hegarty says there are two elements underpinning this population increase.

"Ireland is one of the few countries still displaying strong natural increase - we still have more births than deaths," he said. "Due to this and the strong inward migration, Ireland has one of the fastest growing populations in the EU."

In the EU since 2012 more people have died than have been born.