The Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) has temporarily stopped charging application fees for those seeking relief from their debts. 

The ISI said it had undertaken research which suggested the perceived cost of applying to the service was a barrier for the heavily indebted. 

Fees of between €100 and €500 were due in order to apply for protection from creditors and seek debt relief through the ISI. 

Those fees have now been suspended until the end of 2015. 

The Insolvency Service has also published figures showing it has dealt with cases involving €1 billion worth of debt so far this year. 

It says the number of applications is still low but is increasing each month.

The number of personal insolvency arrangements, which can involve secured debts of up to €3m, doubled over the past three months compared with the previous quarter. 

Three out of every four applications dealt with by the Insolvency Service resulted in a deal successfully being concluded with creditors to write down debt, including mortgage debt.

The service's director, Lorcan O'Connor, cites this statistiic as proof that the ISI can get results. 

Those who advocate on behalf of debtors, including Vincent P Martin of New Beginning, had lobbied for the ISI fees to be cut. He welcomed that move but, he says, further reform is needed.

New Beginning today also released details of 100 bankruptcy cases it has handled under the new regime:

Over a quarter of those declared bankrupt were unemployed, the average age of those applying for bankruptcy was 41 and the average debt written off through the process was just over €400,000.

According to the Insolvency Service, in time Ireland will see around 2,000 bankruptcies and 7,000 insolvency arrangements a year.

To date the ISI has handled just 1,200 cases in total since last year. It hopes waiving fees will significantly boost the numbers of debtors availing of the service.