Motorists in the Republic set to pay more for fuel than Northern Ireland

The average pump price of a litre of unleaded petrol has risen by 9p since early June (Lewis Whyld/PA)

PETROL and diesel prices in the Republic could soon rise above those in Northern Ireland, creating major concerns for garage owners in border areas.

Conversely, business owners in Northern Ireland could now be looking forward to a boost in trade as drivers cross the border for the best price at the pump.

Last week, the UK chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced he would freeze fuel duty for another year.

A 5p per litre cut was implemented in March 2022 after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with oil costs rising over supply concerns.

The Irish government had also reduced excise duty in 2022, but this is expected to increase again from April 1.

The Irish Independent report the increase will be an extra 4c a litre and 3c for diesel from April 1, with a similar amount in August when the government will have restored the full excise duty on petrol, diesel and green diesel.

In October, the Irish budget also saw carbon tax increase the cost of a litre of motor fuels by 3c.

The Irish Petrol Retailers Association (IPRA) has said that although reversing the return of excise duty would be difficult, it was necessary to keep the balance of fuel prices on either side of the border.

“Forecourt retailers are often the backbone of the community, sponsoring GAA, employing locals and their voice can be strong,” a spokesperson said.

With around 390 petrol stations in the Republic’s five border counties, they said many would simply not be able to compete.

The Irish finance minister, Michael McGrath, said that from a peak of €2 in 2022, last month’s figures showed prices had dropped for both fuels to €1.72.

Chairman of the Consumer’s Association of Ireland, Michael Kilcoyne, accused the minister of “snubbing motorists”.

“The cost of motor fuel, energy and food are all still high. Motorists should not have to pay this,” he said.

He pointed out that half of the cost of petrol and diesel already goes towards taxes, duty and levies and were among “the highest in Europe”.

Blake Boland from AA Ireland said it appeared the government “will refuse to budge” over the planned changes.

“With continuing unrest in the Middle East, the markets are far from settled,” he said.

According to the Consumer Council in Northern Ireland, the current average prices are 139.0p for petrol and 147.9p for diesel – a slight increase from the start of the year.

The Republic’s current average of €1.72 equates to £1.47 in sterling.