The Central Bank says the number of people in personal debt is growing rapidly and this is being driven by mortgage borrowings.

At an Oireachtas Committee this morning, the head of statistics at the Central Bank, John Kelly, said the number of people in debt in Ireland is rising faster than any other eurozone country.

Mr Kelly also said the number of people in mortgage debt is three times higher in Ireland compared to other countries in the eurozone.

He also said that the large number of mortgage holders on variable or tracker rates is positive.

Separately, the number of people presenting themselves at the Money Advice Budgeting Service has increased substantially since 2006.

Ann Marie O’Connor told the committee the amount of debt people are in who attend the service is also increasing.

She said her organisation was also concerned about the tactics the some debt collection agencies.

Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority’s Mary O’Dea said a code was now in place to offer some protection for people in mortgage arrears.

But the code was criticised as not going far enough by the representatives from the Free Legal Advice Centre.