Cost of living rises again
The cost of living rose in February for the first time in 14 months, official figures have revealed.
The inflation rate jumped by almost half a percentage point after the January sales ended and the price of household goods and maintenance went up slightly.
The Central Statistics Office said the overall cost of living has come down 3.2pc in the last year.
Richard Bruton, Fine Gael deputy leader, accused the Government of failing to rein in state regulated costs.
The finance spokesman said: "Households which are struggling to make ends meet are being ripped off by the very Government which is supposed to be helping them. Not only are businesses being starved of credit, they are also being fleeced by the State. And after one of the harshest winters in recent years, homes and businesses are now dealing with soaring energy bills. This is the price that everyone has to pay for 13 years of Fianna Fail Government and its refusal to reform Ireland's monolithic and inefficient energy industry."
Isme, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, said the report masked the real costs of state run services.
"While overall inflation is negative, the State continues to increase business costs, without consideration of the damage being done to companies," Mark Fielding, the group's chief executive, said.
"It is absolutely crazy that the Government will not reduce the cost environment to assist the business community to maintain and retain jobs."
Isme said the cost of living would continue to ease over the next few months, giving the Government an opportunity to address its costs.