The man who chaired the Task Force on Policy Regarding Emigrants has urged the Government to implement the key recommendations of his report which was published 16 months ago.

Paddy O'Hanlon said alleviating poverty amongst the generation of emigrants who sent billions home to Ireland during the 50s and 60s will not wait another year.

He was speaking after last night's RTÉ PrimeTime programme on poverty amongst Irish emigrants in Britain.

Mr O'Hanlon added that a key problem to be overcome was ensuring access to welfare services.

The Bishop of Derry, Dr Seamus Hegarty, has called on the Government to establish an agency for the Irish abroad as a matter of urgency.

Bishop Hegarty said the Government should do more than pay lip service to the post-World War Two Irish emigrants in England.

Dr Hegarty said findings of the Prime Time programme mirrored the Church's own research and experiences of marginalised Irish people in London.

These included the highest mortality rates of all ethnic groups in the UK and above average suicide rates compared to other ethnic minorities.

The Bishop said they also included high levels of alcohol abuse and alarming rates of mental illness.