A senior figure in New Beginning, the group which assists debtors dealing with creditors, has described as a "milestone" the first case in which a debtor has secured court protection of his assets under the state's new personal insolvency regime.

A Donegal man was granted protection from his creditors for 70 days in Monaghan Circuit Court yesterday.

Under the new insolvency regime, the man's Personal Insolvency Practitioner, or PIP, will attempt to agree a deal with his borrowers in relation to his debts within the next ten weeks.

Barrister Vincent P Martin said that the protection of the man's assets under the new insolvency regime was "a red letter day" and a milestone.

"It represents real hope for debtors. Many of our wealthiest have long since achieved lasting sustainable debt resolutions. Now it's the time of middle Ireland, ordinary debtors," Mr Martin said.

He said that while a debt resolution had yet to be achieved in the case, the move which was taken yesterday to afford court protection to the man's assets was "an essential step".

Mr Martin speculated that several hundred such cases would proceed "in the short term" under the new personal insolvency regime. He also predicted that there would be an "avalanche of bankruptcies".