The number of mortgages in arrears for 90 days or more has risen by 0.4% to 95,554, according to the latest figures from the Central Bank.

More than 12% of residential mortgages for principle dwellings were in arrears for more than three months by the end of March - 3,205 more than the figure recorded at the end of December 2012.

Meanwhile, the number of mortgages in arrears for 180 days or more was up 4.8% in the first three months of 2013 when compared with October to December of last year.

The number of accounts in arrears for over 720 days was up 12% during the same period.

However, the number of mortgages in arrears of fewer than 90 days was down slightly, falling 0.7% to 46,564 accounts.

More than 79,760 accounts were also classified as restructured by the end of March, with indications that 76% of those were deemed to be meeting their new arrangements.

By the end of March, there were 29,369 buy-to-let mortgages in arrears for 90 days or more, representing 19.7% of all such accounts.

This is an increase of more than 1,000 mortgages compared to the last three months of 2012.

Fianna Fáil's Willie O'Dea said it was "ironic" that new figures on mortgages in arrears should be published at the same time as news of a new code of conduct that will make it much easier for the banks to carry out repossessions.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One News, David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders' Organisation described the figures as a “catastrophic disaster for Government policy, Central Bank policy and for banking institutions governed in this State.”

Mr Hall said an expert group involving various departments had been ”spinning a story” over the last six months but, “today their story is smashed to smithereens in relation to deals and alleged deals that have been done. “

The Free Legal Aid Centre has said homeowners in mortgage arrears are at the mercy of lenders when it comes to sorting out their debts.

FLAC director general Noeline Blackwell said banks "almost have a free hand" when determining how to recover debt owed to them by householders.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, she said banks are choosing to do what they like and they will continue to do so as there is no obligation on them to do otherwise.