JUST why are prices so high in this country compared with our European neighbours?
It is a good question because whether it is mortgages, energy or food prices we pay some of the highest prices in the European Union.
The classic answer you will find in Leaving Cert economics text books is that Ireland has few natural resources, and we are a small island at the end of the line when it comes to imports of raw materials and the likes of gas.
But low levels of real competition, with rivals often happy to pretend rather than really compete with each other, high taxes and low levels of consumer protection are also huge factors explaining why there seems be a Paddy Premium on everything in Ireland.
Energy is expensive here. Households in this country pay €250 more for their electricity each year compared to the EU average.
Electricity prices in Ireland are way above the EU average, and are the fourth most expensive in the bloc.
Only Germany, Denmark and Belgium are more expensive.
The fact that we import so much of our gas and other inputs is cited by energy providers as one of the reasons we pay outsized prices for energy.
But European Union energy commissioner Kadri Simson cited a different reason when she was in Dublin this month.
Ms Simson referred to the “high” costs suppliers pay to connect to the electricity network.
“If we are looking at retail electricity bills that consumers do receive, then transmission costs are one of the top, highest, in the EU,” the Estonian commissioner told the Irish Independent.
The high cost of energy has a knock-on impact on costs of almost everything as it impacts transport costs, input costs for producers and production costs for farmers, to name a few impacts.
Energy suppliers are free to set their own prices, and there are around 10 competing for residential customers.
But some experts argue that they only compete with each on price for new customers, and are happy to allow loyalty to be punished with high and rising prices.
This country has the second highest mortgage rates in the eurozone, according to the Central Bank of Ireland.
The average interest rate on a new mortgage in Ireland is second only to Greece in the 19-country eurozone.
The gap between the average new mortgage rate in this country and the average in the eurozone means it costs around €2,000 more to service a home loan in Ireland than the average for the 19 countries.
Banks argue that the legacy of the financial collapse more than 12 years ago means regulators require them to put aside three times more capital when they issue a mortgage compared with their eurozone counterparts.
Banks also say they have difficulty enforcing security if a loan goes into arrears, but what they do not admit is that the entry of Spanish-owned Avant Money meant they could cut their mortgage rates.
So low levels of real competition are a big factor explaining high lending rates.
Insurance is a classic example of how a cosy situation is allowed to develop.
Insurers got what they wanted with a drastic cut in the award guidelines for personal injuries this year, something which has a huge impact on costs for insurers.
But there has only been a small cut in premiums for motorists, and few reductions in premiums for other types of insurance.
Insurers argue that the guidelines are being challenged by the legal lobby in the courts, and payouts in dubious claims cases are still the norm.
So we wait for better value.
As for why prices of other goods and services are so high, we know that Ireland is a small country with a small population, making the importation of products expensive.
And don’t discount that fact that we are a high tax country.
Prices and incomes are high as a result.
At 23pc, our main Vat rate is one of the highest in the Western world.
It is around 2 percentage points higher than the average in EU countries.
Vat and other taxes and levies explain why petrol, diesel and alcohol prices are so expensive in dear old Ireland.
While excuses for high prices are plentiful, the bottom line is that we often get ripped off because competition is weak, consumer protections are poor, taxes on consumers are high. So we pay, and pay through the nose.