More than 32,000 mortgage holders are in arrears with about two-thirds of them unable to meet payments for more than six months, official figures have revealed.
The Central Bank said that since the start of the year there has been a 13% increase in the number of homes falling behind in repayments.
Despite the increase, the amount of court actions taken against borrowers in difficulty dropped by 4.8% over the first three months.
Just over 3,000 cases, including moves toward repossession, were before the court at the end of March as banks chased arrears of 90 million euro.
In the first three months of the year, lenders took 161 cases to court - a fall of almost a third compared with the last three months of 2009.
The Central Bank said mortgages in arrears are worth a total 6.1 billion euro.