New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the annual rate of inflation rose to 4.8% in February, from 4.3% the previous month.

The rise is mainly as a result of continuing increases in food prices as well as the ending of the January sales.

The CSO says that consumer prices in February rose by 1.2% in the month. This compares with a rise of 0.8% the same time last year.

Inflation last stood at 4.8% in October of last year.

The prices of clothing and footwear rose by 12.7% due to a recovery in prices after the ending of the traditional January sales.

Furnishings and household equipment prices also rose by 2.8% after the sales.

Food prices grew by 1.8% with higher prices seen in a wide range of products including milk, meat, bread and cereals.

Health costs rose by 1% due to an increase in doctors' fees, while transport costs increased by 0.8% due to increases in airfares and motor taxation.

Last month also saw increases in average mortgage interest repayments and rents.

The CSO says that the annual rate of inflation for services was 5.6% last month, while goods increased by 3.9% in the year.