Over a third of mortgage applications were turned down by Irish banks last year.

The figures were contained in a letter from Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath.

The letter, seen by RTÉ News, says that there were more than 28,500 applications for mortgages to Irish banks last year.

However, only 17,700 were approved by the banks - AIB, Bank of Ireland, EBS and Permanent TSB.

That indicates that 38% of applications were turned down.

The true figure is likely to be even higher, as a number of applications did not include information from EBS.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr McGrath said the figures fly in the face of attempts to reignite the property market.

He said: "I think these figures are very worrying at a time when the Government is trying to put in place initiatives to kick-start the property sector."