The Minister for Health, Micheal Martin, has this evening announced he is repealing the 1996 regulations restricted the granting of community pharamacy contracts.

The move marks a significant move to deregulation in the sector which has been the subject of criticism from the Competition Authority and the OECD.

The minister's decision was made following legal advice from the attorney general.

Seamus Feeley, secretary general of the Irish Pharmacy Union, criticised the move saying it was done out of political expediency.