Official figures show that the annual rate of inflation climbed last month, halting three months of declines.
The rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was mainly due to increased prices in restaurants and hotels, higher clothing prices, and rising transport costs.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said that the annual rate of inflation in February was 8.5% – up from 7.8% in January. Prices in February alone rose by 1.5%, having fallen in the previous two months.
Clothes prices up after sales
The CSO said that the category covering restaurants and hotels was one of the main contributors to the February increase.
This was due to higher prices for alcoholic drinks and food consumed in licensed premises, restaurants, and cafés, as well as an increase in the cost of hotel accommodation.
Clothing and footwear prices also rose after the January sales, while higher air fares and petrol prices lifted transport costs, though this was partly offset by a fall in diesel prices.
Food prices rose by 1.2% during February, and were 13.3% higher on an annual basis.
Energy prices drop
A breakdown shows that prices of electricity, gas and other fuels dropped by 0.9% during February, but were still up by 54.4% over the 12-month period.
Private rents were up 1% during February, and by 10.6% over the year.
Mortgage interest costs jumped 4.3% in the month as interest-rate rises continued to bite, and were up 31.6% on an annual basis.
The figures show that insurance costs crept up by 1.6% during February, but were down 0.7% compared with the same month last year.