New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that Irish multinationals employed almost 249,000 people abroad in 2010.

These foreign affiliates generated turnover of €71.9 billion the CSO notes in research on outward foreign affiliates, which it has published for the first time.

In terms of employment, distribution was the main sector for Irish firms abroad with 42.4% of total persons engaged in this type of work.

This was followed by manufacturing (30.2%) and services (25.2%).

But in terms of turnover, services was the most important sector for Irish affiliates abroad and accounted for 40.1% of total turnover. Distribution was second with 36.1% and then manufacturing (21.5%).

The figures reveal that the UK was the most important destination for Irish multinationals with employment there of almost 73,000 and turnover of €28 billion. This was followed by the US with employment of almost €55,000 and turnover of 13.8 billion.

Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and France were also important destinations.