Inflation in Ireland is now at its highest rate in fifteen years.

Ireland has enjoyed relatively low inflation levels in recent years but since July 1999 the rate has surged to 5.2%.

The highest rate in fifteen years.

John Dunne, Director General of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC), says that a cool approach is needed to tackle the issue of high inflation. However, Peter Cassells of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions wants government action on the issue. He advocates the need for greater competition to bring down the cost of housing, food, drink and petrol.

The government points to external factors as the reason for Ireland's high inflation. However, if that is the case why are Ireland’s inflation figures so much higher than the rest of Europe?

Food inflation in Ireland is at 1.5% while in Europe is just 0.2%. The cost of housing, water and fuel in Ireland are up 6.1% while in Europe the figure is at 2.9%. Health inflation in Ireland is at 6.4% and just 2% in Europe.

The question now is how to reverse this trend for Ireland. The government has been accused of fuelling inflation through measures introduced in the last budget. However, speaking in the Dáil today, the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern tried to lay some of the blame on the alcohol industry as a result of anti-competitive practices.

Minister for Health Micheál Martin said that the government was looking into price controls. Minister for Justice Mr John O’Donoghue is in favour of the introduction of the prices order to control the cost of alcohol.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 13 June 2000. The reporter is Susan Byrne.