Thousands of people will be making their way home for Christmas over the coming days, but a new survey suggests that the majority of Irish executives living abroad would prefer to be coming back for good.

A MERC Partners survey, conducted by Amárach Research, found that three quarters of Irish executives want to come home in the near future with many checking job listings each week to find an opportunity. But there are factors putting them off in the short-term - many of which echo the concerns of workers already living here.

Key findings of the report include the fact that 54% of respondents plan to be back in Ireland within 10 years, and of those which plan to be back in Ireland by 2028, a large number of respondents have children under the age of 18. It also revealed that 45% of respondents based in the UK are more likely to return to Ireland as a result of Brexit.

Kieran Duff, a partner at MERC Partners, said the company talked to 500 Irish professionals around the world to both gauge their desire to come home and to also understand what is preventing them from coming home and what would serve to entice them back here. 

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Mr Duff said the key finding in the report that three out of four Irish executives living abroad have a strong appetite to come home did not really surprise the company as it engages every day with Irish executives working with companies abroad. 

The strong desire by so many business executives to come home to work represents a great opportunity for Irish companies to tap into an enlarged talent pool, according to Kieran Duff. But he said that at the same time the executives do need to hear a compelling story from the businesses to entice them home and that the process is not without its challenges. 

Pressure points in the country's health system, housing and infrastructure as well as the personal taxation all factor in an executive's decision to come to work in Ireland and Mr Duff said that the businesses and the Government have to do their best to address these concerns. 

He also pointed out that the National Competitiveness Council said yesterday that international protectionist policies, potential disruption to the global trading system, the changing international tax landscape and Brexit all pose risks for the country's economy. But returning Irish executives can only be of benefit to the Irish community at large, Mr Duff concluded.