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Low demand will keep prices down

ALCOHOL and beverage prices have risen by 5.3pc within the last year, but the headline inflation rate remained flat.

Consumer prices rose by just 0.5pc, and the price of goods fell by 1pc.

The Central Statistics Office said overall prices last month were unchanged from March, as increases in health insurance premiums and certain foods were offset by a fall in air fares.

Alcohol, education and miscellaneous goods and services all recorded rises.

But communication costs fell by 4.6pc, while furnishings and household equipment prices fell by 3.4pc.

Economist Alan McQuaid said continued weak consumer demand will put downward pressure on prices

"The austerity measures announced in the Budget will weigh negatively on spending power," he said.

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association said that the Government shouldn't be complacent over the figures.