The government has today awarded new oil and gas exploration licences for the Rockall and Slyne basins off the west and Northwest coast.
Licences were granted for the Porcupine basin off the south east coast.
Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte said the licences were granted following an assessment of 15 applications submitted last May.
The move has been slammed by Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins who says granting licences to private companies to drill for oil and gas amounts to giving away our valuable natural resources.
But Minister Rabbitte says Ireland simply doesn't have the capability to explore on our own: