Irish users of the popular online e-mail service Hotmail were unable to access their e-mail accounts today due to a major technical fault.

Microsoft Ireland confirmed that many users had been unable to log on to their accounts and engineers were investigating a fault with servers.

Hotmail has more than 280 million registered users worldwide.

There have also been reports that Hotmail users on the US east coast have also been unable to get into their e-mail accounts.

Meanwhile, Ryanair says it is making 'significant progress' on eliminating some of the glitches involved with its new online reservations system.

It said internet access on www.ryanair.com was temporarily reduced for 'some hours' today, and the airline and its software supplier are working to eliminate the problems.

'We expect to continue to deliver improved internet access and faster booking speeds this evening and tomorrow,' the airline said.