The most recent figures show that 6,280 of all local authority mortgages are in arrears of more than 90 days, the Dáil has heard.

Minister of State Jan O'Sullivan said this amounted to 28% of the total number of loans.

She said the Central Bank's data for the same period showed that 10.9% of mortgages in the private sector, including those whose repayments had been restructured, were in arrears for more than 90 days.

A further 5% of mortgages had been restructured and were performing in accordance with the revised terms, she added.

Ms O'Sullivan said it was to be expected that the rate of arrears among local authority mortgage holders would be higher than the rate of arrears generally, given the local authority's position as lenders of last resort.

She said that local authorities had the legislative freedom to deal sensitively and flexibly with those in mortgage arrears.

Phil Hogan links property tax to local democracy

Minister Phil Hogan has said the Government is committed to the introduction of a local property tax for the provision of an appropriate level of local government financial responsibility, to underpin local democratic decision making.

He said no decisions had been taken beyond that, and that it would not be appropriate to discuss such matters prior to Government consideration.

However, the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government said it was his personal view that the local property tax would improve the governance of local authorities, by strengthening their accountability to local taxpayers.

He said the tax would strengthen the relationship between the citizen and their local authority.

Mr Hogan said that if local representatives had responsibility in gathering revenue, then their ability to prioritise its allocation would be diminished.

He said the Government had decided that the local property tax would be collected by the Revenue Commissioners.

He said that an independently-chaired expert group was compiling a report on the issue of a property tax to replace the Household Charge.

Mr Hogan said this group had submitted its report to him, and that it would be brought to Government in due course.

Fianna Fáil's Barry Cowen called on the minister to publish the Thornhill Report.

He asked if Mr Hogan anticipated local authorities augmenting the property tax for their benefit in relation to services they provide.

Mr Hogan said the Thornhill Report was commissioned by his party to look at the implementation of the property tax, which was a proposal put forward by the previous government.

The minister told Mr Cowen that he would not be pre-empting the Minister for Finance's Budget announcement by going into any detail on what was contained in the Thornhill Report.

He said the report would be informing Minister Noonan’s decision.