Buying wreaths for All Soul's Day or socks for your children is "not essential", Minister of State Damien English has said. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Prime Time, the Minister of State for Employment Affairs and Retail Businesses defended the Government's policy of ensuring that mixed retailers only sold goods that were classed as "essential".

When asked if it was the case that someone can buy a bottle of wine but not socks for their child, Mr English said "socks come under clothes".

Mr English also said that people could not buy wreaths for All Soul's Day on 2 November.

"They can't," he said, "because it's not essential trade, what's essential is food".

He added: "If you're at home tonight in your house, do you really need to go out and buy that wreath this week or next week?"

Mr English also stressed that he understood the importance of November for many people and that they could still say a prayer for their loved one and go and visit a grave.