Irish finance minister Charlie McCreevy may force publicans to slash the price of soft and alcoholic drinks in an attempt to control inflation.If the plan is put in action it could see a pint of beer in Irish pubs cut by up to 40 Irish pence. Inflation has reached a 15 year high in Ireland of 5.2%, the highest in the EU. The Consumers Association of Ireland has blamed the rise in drinks prices for 20% of the current inflation rate.The Association's spokesman believes that forcing pubs to drop their prices would reduce inflation at a stroke, even if it did not tackle the underlying causes. He went on to say that "the drinks industry in Ireland is a protected cartel which needs to be broken up".Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said there had been "very substantial and unwarranted increases by publicans" and the government would have to look at ways of reversing the situation.Chris Brook-Carter