SINCLAIR, Ireland (Reuters) – Irish retailers will have to advertise in Irish in future adverts and social media accounts as part of a campaign to encourage consumers to buy from Irish-owned businesses, the country’s chief consumer protection official said on Thursday.

The country’s Department of Consumer Affairs said it had begun consultations with the Irish Retail Association to create an online advertising campaign to help consumers buy Irish-made products.

The department said it would use the Irish retailer brand of JCPenney as the base for its ad campaign, which will also run on the company’s social media channels and through its website.

“We want to encourage people to buy Irish products from Irish businesses, and if they buy from JCPensney they will be getting a great deal for it,” said Brendan Kelly, the department’s chief information officer.

The Irish retailer, which has more than 1,200 stores in the United States, will run the campaign through its official website, which is run by JCP.

It will also use its own online marketing channels including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to promote the campaign, it said.

In response to a question about the Irish government’s plans to promote Irish products, Kelly said there was no change to its policies on the matter.

“As long as the consumer is not paying for a product, they are entitled to buy it,” he said.

He said consumers had been told for a number of years that there were certain products which would be banned in Ireland, and the department was committed to maintaining a level playing field in the sector.

“But we also want to make sure consumers know that we have the right to make our own decisions,” he added.

Kelly also said the department had not yet made any decisions on how much money it would spend on the campaign.

“There are a number things that we are still looking at and it’s something that we will continue to explore,” he told reporters.

In a report published in December, the European Commission said the government’s approach to promoting Irish-produced products was “a significant departure from the policies of the past”.

“The new measures may lead to a reduction in the amount of advertising the department spends in its own advertising and social channels,” the commission said.

The commission warned that “the current advertising campaign may be insufficient to drive sales of goods in the Irish market, because of the high price tag of the products”.

The Irish government said the change was designed to reduce the cost of imports and that it had been considering a range of measures, including increasing tariffs.

“The department has decided that it will not be adopting the new measures for the 2017/18 marketing season,” the department said.

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