THE Government has put a hold on granting any more licences for drilling by controversial hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking.
Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said there is "considerable genuine concern" about the potential environmental and health considerations related to the activity.
He said no new licences will be granted until the completion of an All-Ireland scientific study of the process by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The research will start in the second half of the year, the minister said.
"The conduct of the study is expected to take at least 12 months. Any applications for exploration licences that may be received in the interim will be put on hold, pending publication of this important research," he said.
The minster was speaking at an information session on fracking at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin.