New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the annual rate of inflation eased to 1.9% in April from 2.2% in March.

The CSO says that consumer prices in April were unchanged in the month. This compares to an increase of 0.4% the same time last year.

The fall in the rate of inflation last month was due to decreases in the price of alcoholic drinks and cheaper airfares, but this was partly offset by increases in petrol and diesel prices.

The price of ''miscellaneous goods and services'' also rose due to the introduction of the household charge and rising health insurance premiums. 

Some food prices were also more expensive last month, the CSO noted.

The CSO said that the biggest changes in the year to April were seen in the cost of education, which rose by 9.4%. Transport costs were 5.7% higher. Prices of miscellaneous goods and services rose by 4.1% while alcoholic drinks and tobacco climbed 3.2%.

The cost of furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance fell by 2.3%, while recreation and culture costs eased by 1.1% and clothing and footwear prices fell by 0.4%.