Irish households are continuing to pay off debt, according to new figures from the Central Bank.

But the Central Bank's quarterly financial accounts for the last three months of 2011 show that the amount of money the Government owes has reached its highest level ever.

The bank said that Irish households have been reducing their debts over the past three years, paying down more than €27 billion in that period.

Today's figures show the amount households owe now stands at €184.5 billion - which works out at an average €41,169 per head.

But the total wealth of Irish households - their net worth - far exceeds what is owed, and totals €457 billion.

Average net wealth per capita - that is what we own less what we owe - works out at €101,962.

But that is a crude average as some people have a lot more net wealth and some have a lot less.

Overall the net wealth of Irish households has fallen by 37% since the peak in 2007, mostly as a result of falling house values. However, the fall was partly offset by repaying debt and a small rise in financial assets.

But the Central Bank figures show that the Government sector is faring less well, and Government liabilities increased to €173.3 billion, their highest level to date.

The net Government wealth - offsetting financial assets - leaves the Government in the red to the tune of €109 billion. Almost one fifth of the Government's debts are to the EU/IMF.