Latest figures from the Central Bank published today confirm that almost 78,000 residential mortgages are in arrears of more than 90 days.
The figure compares to almost 71,000 at the end of December, and represents over 10% of all mortgages in the State.
Publishing its Residential Mortgage Arrears and Repossessions statistics for the first three months of 2012, the Central Bank said that there were some 764,138 private residential mortgage accounts for principal dwellings held in this country, to a value of €112.7bn.
Of these, some 77,630 accounts, or 10.2% were in arrears of more than 90 days.
This compares with 70,945 accounts (9.2%) that were in arrears of more than 90 days at end December
The number of accounts that were in arrears of more than 180 days was 59,437 at end March 2012, equivalent to 7.8% of the total stock.
At end-December 2011, the number of accounts in arrears of more than 180 days was 53,120, or 6.9%.
Meanwhile the number of repossessions increased by 28% in the first three months of the year to 961 properties.
The Q1 figures also revealed that some 79,712 mortgage accounts were categorised as 'restructured', an increase of 7.2%.
Of the total number of restructured mortgages at the end of March, some 38,658 were not in arrears and
were performing as per the restructured arrangement.
The remaining restructured accounts (41,054) were in arrears of varying lengths (both less than and greater than 90 days).
Therefore, 116,288 accounts were either in arrears of over 90 days or had been restructured and were performing.
The figures come amid increased pressure on lenders to introduce schemes to tackle the mortgage arrears crisis, described by Taoiseach Enda Kenny this week as the single biggest issue facing Irish people.
The Central Bank is reported to have already received a number of proposals from the banks to deal with the problem.
Proposals include negative equity mortgages and mortgage-to-rent schemes, which will tackle unsustainable long-term mortgages.
The pilot phase will be rolled out next month - to be completed by September - and may be rolled out on a wider scale, depending on success levels.
Mr Kenny said that the Government was also being pro-active on a number of solutions, including establishing a Cabinet sub-committee and increasing mortgage interest supplements for those worst hit by the property crash.
It was also working on the personal insolvency bill and had face-to-face meetings with banks on a number of occasions, he told the Dáil on Tuesday.
Meanwhile Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said today that the mortgage arresars figures are a real concern for the Government.
Speaking in Cork, Minister Coveney said the crisis is one that will have to be addressed urgently.
"It is a big concern, and it has been for quite some time," he said.
"We have two debt problems in Ireland - one is sovereign debt, which this Government has a responsibility to get a better deal on, particularly in relation to things like promissory notes and bank debt.
"We also have a responsibility to try and help people who are in personal debt over their heads."
Analysts said the numbers laid bare the extent of the crisis.
"These numbers will do nothing to ease the concern about the mortgage debt problem in Ireland," said Dermot O'Leary of Goodbody.
"The Central Bank statistics relate to the whole market and performances will vary by bank, but these trends are closer to the adverse case scenario in last year's bank stress tests.
"Given the impending introduction of new insolvency legislation, it is difficult to know at this stage what effect this will have on behaviour among borrowers."
The Irish Banking Federation said the figures were unsurprising as they reflect the lag effect of new customers who in 2011 were unable to meet their payments.
It insisted that banks were committed to working with customers to resolve the situation.
“While most borrowers continue to meet their mortgage repayments, those borrowers facing difficulties are being assisted by their lenders based on individual banks’ recovery strategies and in a manner which reflects direction and guidance from the Central Bank of Ireland which focuses on determining the sustainability, on a case-by-case basis, of each individual mortgage,” a spokesman added.
Head of mortgages at AIB Jim O'Keeffe said the bank was committed to providing long-term solutions for customers in difficulty with their mortgages.
"Details of these solutions will be communicated to customers as they come available over the coming months," Mr O'Keeffe added, saying the bank "fully accepted" that many customers were in trouble.
"AIB strongly urges anybody facing difficulties in relation to their mortgage repayments to come and talk to us at the earliest possible opportunity," he said.