A TOTAL of 100,000 non-nationals left Ireland this year -- three times the previous estimate, new government figures show.
But immigrant numbers remain at record levels and Integration Minister Conor Lenihan has warned of "tensions" between groups competing for jobs as unemployment soars.
Mr Lenihan says confidential research suggests that an army of 100,000 migrants have left Ireland in the last 12 months with the collapse of the Celtic Tiger. The number is three times the official estimate of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) that 35,000 immigrants have left Ireland over the last year.
In a circular to TDs, Mr Lenihan said that nearly 140,000 fresh PPS numbers were issued to non-nationals in the first 10 months of the year now ending.
"Given these latter figures, the integration of immigrants remains a significant challenge," the minister warned.