Figures released today by insolvency firm Kavanagh Fennel show that insolvencies increased by 140% in the first three months of this year, compared with the same period last year.

Total insolvencies in January, February and March came to 329 compared to 137 for the same time last year, and 78 for the first quarter of 2007.

The construction sector has seen the most firms, at 108, unable to pay their debts, followed by those in the hospitality sector at 58 and retail, 57.

The company says that if the trend were to continue throughout the year total insolvencies could double to 1,500 for the year, compared with 773 for 2008.

So far this year the have been 276 cases of creditors voluntary liquidation; 32 cases of court liquidation; 45 receiverships and 12 examinerships.