The State body established to administer insolvency deals has said the number of agreements approved to date is lower than expected. 

The Insolvency Service of Ireland has published statistics which showed only four insolvency deals involving mortgage debt have been approved by creditors. 

However its director, Lorcan O'Connor, has said that there is a significant number of new cases in the pipeline. 

So far there have been 51 agreements to reduce unsecured debt, such as credit card or Credit Union debt. 

The write-offs have been significant, at an average of 77%.

There has also been a rise in bankruptcies, with 66 cases approved in the past three months. That is more than the number for all of last year.  

The ISI has also seen an increase in its caseload, with the body now receiving around 50 new cases per week.

However the key concern is the dearth of deals covering mortgage debt. There have been 320 applications for agreements but only four deals were completed.   

Of the agreements, the average write-off of mortgage debt was 19%. 

Advocates for distressed borrowers have said the problem is that banks are vetoing deals. 

The figures from the ISI also show that 128 people had been authorised to act as Personal Insolvency Practitioners by the end of March 2014.

A further 73 have been designated as approved intermediaries.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of the Irish League of Credit Unions has defended the use of the courts to recover a reported €35 million in debts over last three years.

Independent TD Stephen Donnelly has said that the figures for the number of insolvency agreements approved to date is very disappointing given that the government target was that all unsustainable mortages would have an offer of a new sustainable restructure made by the end of this year.

Speaking on RTÉ's Six One News Mr Donnelly said that current legislation, and not the ISI, is at fault, adding that present legislation is only suitable for a normally functioning economy and not one in crisis.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Kieran Brennan said where people had not engaged properly with credit unions prior to the last 12 months, the only recovery options open to them was the courts [prior to insolvency services becoming available].

Mr Brennan said credit unions welcomed the setting up of the Insolvency Service and were willing to take a hit to help people in difficulty to get out of debt.

However, he said they would not stand over a case where the banks used the system to “bleed people dry” for interest and created further distress.