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The SUNDAY can today reveal the devastating extent of emigration in the north west.

Derry’s politicians say the official figures - released to the ‘SUNDAY’ by Stormont’s Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) - highlight a failure to stimulate the region’s economy.

The startling figures show that between mid 2010 and 2011 just almost 2500 people emigrated from Derry, Strabane and Limavady.

SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood says the figures throw failed economic policy into sharp focus.

“This city is currently in overdrive trying to bring people here,” he says.

“It would be a very hollow victory however if we succeed in attracting more tourists but fail to stem the tide of emigration.

“This is why the highest priority in this city has to be focused in growing jobs, high quality jobs which match the quality of our young people.

“A failure to provide these opportunities, a failure to enact this change, will mean losing more of our sons and daughters.”

The DFP data shows that between mid 2010 and mid 2011, a total of 1721 people - almost 2% of the city’s population - emigrated from Derry.

Almost 72% of Derry emigrants were aged between 16 and 39. Of those to have left the city, 782 were bound for Britain, while almost 940 migrated outside of the UK.

Sinn Fein MLA Maeve McLaughlin says the figures show the need for policies to change.

“Our constituency offices in Derry would deal with a growing number of young people calling in getting passports signed who are heading off to the likes of Australia and Canada in search of work and a new life.

“It is clear that the ability of the Executive to achieve economic growth is seriously hampered by the decisions of governments around us and our lack of fiscal powers; it is imperative that we send a message to both governments that enough is enough

“We need to replace the austerity led approach of Dublin and London Conservatives with one that is based on investment in people, in jobs and in growth,” she says.

The DFP statistics show that 426 people left Strabane and 284 left Limavady over the same time period.