A leading insolvency practitioner has apologised for comments made yesterday in which he appeared to draw a distinction between professional classes and PAYE workers over the new insolvency bill.

Yesterday, speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Jim Stafford said a personal insolvency practitioner would have to assess "the type of house that might be needed for a professional person such as a solicitor, accountant or a hospital consultant as opposed to a house that's needed by someone who is in the PAYE sector for example".

He continued: "I would be making a very strong case, for example, that a solicitor should have a bigger house that accords with his professional status in society so that his neighbours and clients can see that, yes, this person is a good solicitor who's is living in a good house etc etc."

However, in a statement tonight Mr Stafford said: "I would like to acknowledge and sincerely apologise for the hurt and distress that my comments to RTÉ have undoubtedly caused.

"Simply it was not my intention to offend.

"In particular, it was not my intention to create a distinction between so called professional classes and PAYE workers nor appear to further the causes of a particular debtor type.

"I believe that every person has a passionate concern to retain their family home.

"I fully appreciate the distress that financial difficulties cause any one, no matter what their financial circumstances may be."