The President of the Court of Appeal has warned that the court is close to being overwhelmed by its caseload.

Mr Justice Sean Ryan said delays of over a year for most appeal hearings would get worse unless action was taken, as the court was "coming to the point of being overwhelmed".

The judge said he was confident the government would take effective measures to address the problem.

He said the Attorney General and Minister for Justice were sympathetic to the court's difficulties.

He also welcomed an offer from the Supreme Court to hear some of the appeals which were originally inherited from a Supreme Court backlog, in December.

The Appeal Court was established in October 2014. It inherited around 1,650 appeals from the Supreme Court and has reduced that number to around 650.

However, with around 600 new appeals from the High Court each year, the delay before an appeal can be heard now stands at at least a year, and Mr Justice Ryan warned the delays were likely to get worse.

He said the Appeal Court could deal with about 320 appeals each year.

He said it was well known, despite the best efforts of "an extremely talented and dedicated team", the court was not only being "outpaced" by the appeals from the High Court in civil cases but was coming to the point of being overwhelmed.

Mr Justice Ryan said he did not want to sound over pessimistic and there were some encouraging signs, including an offer from the Chief Justice to provide four judges from the Supreme Court to assist in hearing some legacy appeals over two weeks from 4 December.

He said he and his colleagues were extremely appreciative of the approach of the Supreme Court judges, which reflected, he said, "the very best collegiate spirit of the judiciary."

Litigants who wanted to avail of this offer could apply to the Supreme Court registrar for hearings he said and this could result in their appeals being heard five months earlier.

The Court of Appeal has prioritised the hearing of criminal appeals, matters involving a person's liberty or urgent matters such as child abductions.

Four of the ten judges are allocated to criminal appeals.

The waiting time for those is within three to six months.

Six judges are available to hear Supreme Court appeals due to retirements and Mr Justice Peter Charleton's chairing of the Disclosures tribunal.

It hears about 70 appeals every year.

Appeals to the Supreme Court must involve a point of law of public importance or must be considered important in the interests of justice.