38,000 mortgages now two years in arrears - and rising
The continuing rise in the number of people in long-term mortgage arrears has been described as a "travesty".
Close to 38,000 residential mortgage accounts are now more than two years behind on their repayments.
This represents close to one in 20 of all mortgages, with arrears of €52,400 on average.
The numbers in long-term arrears rose by 155, figures for the first three months of this year from the Central Bank show.
Long-term cases make up 36pc of all residential mortgage accounts that are in arrears.
However, the number going into arrears for the first time continues to fall.
A total of 105,000 residential home-loan accounts are in some form of arrears, down 5pc on the last three months of last year.
The number of accounts that are more than three months in arrears was 74,395, down for the sixth quarter in a row.
Legal proceedings were issued to 2,788 mortgage holders during the first three months of the year, with courts granting repossession orders in 468 cases.
A total of 351 properties were taken into possession by banks during the January to March period, with 156 of these repossessed on foot of a court order and the others voluntarily surrendered.
The Government last month said it would expand the mortgage-to-rent scheme to ensure more people unable to meet their mortgage payments stay in the home.
It also intends to change the law to require banks to justify in court why it has turned down a formal debt deal.
But a number of commentators were highly critical of the fact that long-term arrears figures continue to rise seven years into the financial crash.
The Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation accused the banks of restructuring simpler cases and failing to deal with those in the most difficulty.
David Hall said: "It is now clear that the recent announcements by the Government in relation to the mortgage crisis were simply an exercise in taking repossessions off the political agenda until after the next election."
Rachel Doyle of the Professional Insurance Brokers Association (PIBA) said the high level of long-term arrears was "a travesty seven years after the crash and indicated an inability of the system to deal with it".
Fianna Fáil's finance spokesman Michael McGrath said families most at risk of losing their homes were those in long-term arrears. "The Government has continually failed to get a grip on the mortgage crisis," he said.