A call for the abolition of the Irish Republic's Groceries Order ­ which bans below price selling ­ has re-ignited the long-running dispute over the legislation. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, an influential European trade forum, sparked furore by recommending the Order be repealed in a report on regulatory practices in Ireland. But its criticism of the Order has been slammed as rash and ill-considered by food and retailer groups across the Republic. And the comments come some six months after the Irish government decided to retain the measure after extended consultations. The Irish Food and Drink Federation said OECD's findings are not grounded in fact or analysis. Director Ciaran Fitzgerald said: "Thankfully, the government's decision to retain the Order last October was based on a more practical real world view of the issues." And Ailish Forde, director general of independent retailer group RGDATA, said criticism of the Groceries Order is misplaced. She said: "The OECD findings are not based on empirical data. The facts do not back its comments up. The government decision made last October is in the best interests of retailers and consumers. It is a simple fact the Groceries Order has endured so long because it has had a positive impact on competition and has contributed to Irish consumers getting low prices and good service." Tesco Ireland was steering clear of the debate. Corporate affairs manager Sara Morris said: "We are not getting involved in this debate, and as such we do not have a position on the Groceries Order." The Irish Competition Authority had sought the abolition of the order, arguing that its restrictions keep food prices artificially high. {{NEWS }}