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More than 1,700 mortgages to the value of €317m were approved by lenders during the month of December.

The latest figures from the IBF Mortgage Approvals Report showed 18,520 mortgages were approved last year, up 4.1pc.

The vast majority of these – 17,058 – were for house purchases, a 6.1pc rise on 2012.

Noel Brett, of the Irish Banking Federation, said the picture for 2013 shows growth in both volume and value in the level of mortgage approvals.

"Banks are well positioned to lend to customers who meet the criteria for a mortgage, the key consideration being the borrower's capacity to repay," he said.