Household debt as a proportion of disposable income fell by almost almost ten percentage points over the year to March, the biggest fall among all EU countries. 

It is now at its lowest level since the start of 2004.  

New figures from the Central Bank also show that the value of houses increased by €9.5 billion in the first three months of the year.

The rise in house prices was the main cause of a near €7bn rise in the net worth of Irish households to a new record high of €732bn, equivalent to just over €150,000 per capita.

Household net worth is the value of all housing and financial assets owned by individuals, minus the debt they owe. It has gone up by 70% from its low point in 2012.

The debt of the household sector at the end of March stood at €140bn, down from €204bn at its peak ten years ago. 

But Irish households continue to be the fourth most indebted in the EU, behind Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, while the rate of debt reduction in Ireland has slowed in recent years.

The latest Quarterly Financial Accounts from the Central Bank - which record the financial position of the household, government and non-financial corporate sectors - show household housing assets rose in value by €9.6bn in the first quarter of the year. 

However their financial assets declined by €2.2bn in the same period, while their liabilities increased by €0.8bn, leaving the increase in net worth in the first quarter at €6.7bn - or 0.9%. 

The debt of the household sector at the end of March stood at €140 billion - down from €204bn at its peak ten years ago - a fall of €64bn or 31%.

 In the first quarter household debt increased marginally by €7.5m, the Central Bank said. 

Measures of debt sustainability continued to improve over the quarter, with debt as a percentage of disposable income falling by 1.4 percentage points to 133.3%. 

This was due to a 1.1% increase in annualised disposable income. Debt as a proportion of disposable income - at 15.9% - was at its lowest level since the start of 2004. 

But Irish households continue to be the fourth most indebted in the EU, behind Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, and the rate of debt reduction here has slowed in recent years. 

The ratio of debt to disposable income in Irish households fell by 19.8 percentage points between 20-14 and 2018. 

In the EU as a whole it fell by just 1.8 percentage points during the same period. The biggest increase in household debt in this period was in Sweden, which saw debt rise by 16.8%.

Meanwhile, Irish Government debt rose by almost €10bn in the first quarter, mostly due to the issuance of €6.6bn in government bonds. 

Total government debt stood at €233.2bn in the first quarter, compared to a peak debt of €235.6bn in third quarter of 2014. 

The net worth of the government sector fell by €3.2bn in the quarter, with financial liabilities increasing by €10.2bn, while financial assets increased by €7.1bn.

This left the Government's net financial wealth at -€155bn. 

The Central Bank figures also show that the Non-Financial Corporate (NFC) sector saw debt fall for the fifth consecutive quarter. 

The sector's ratio of debt to GDP is now 194.7%. 

This ratio has fallen by 132 percentage points since its peak at the start of 2015, when it stood at 326% of GDP. This reflects both a higher GDP, which has gone up by 42% since the start of 2015 - and debt reduction of €106bn or 15%.

Irish NFC debt remains high by European standards - slightly less than double the Euro area average - but is largely a function of the high level of multinational companies based here.

Luxembourg and Cyprus also have highly indebted NFC sectors, and both are also heavily dependent on multinational companies.