The benefits of the abolition of the Irish groceries order have been called into question yet again after the inflation rate, including food prices, rose for the third successive month in the Irish Republic.

It provoked a fresh storm of criticism that repeal of the order has not delivered the reduced food bills promised. The Republic's inflation rate for May was 3.9% - almost double the EU average - with some economists predicting 5% by the end of the year.

Agriculture and food minister Mary Coughlan acknowledged "the groceries order was abolished to decrease prices, but does not seem to have had an impact so far". But she claimed one reason for high prices was that consumers "can't be bothered" to do tasks such as chopping up fruit and would rather pay extra for someone else to do it. She added that Irish prices in every food category were higher than in any other EU country.

The harshest criticism came from economist Jim Power, who claimed the groceries order had been abolished for "political reasons". Fellow economist Eddie Hobbs had predicted €500-€1,000 savings a year on family food bills. Power declared: "It has now been proved conclusively that what Hobbs was telling us was a load of rubbish".