Minister for Transport, Environment and Climate Eamon Ryan has said it was "absolutely critical" that Cabinet approved a plan today to legislate for the banning of future oil and gas exploration.

The Green Party leader said the Government was "tackling the problem at source" by stipulating that no new licences for oil or gas exploration be issued.

He told RTÉ News that it was "important to send-out a signal" that Ireland was "moving away from fossil fuels ... divesting ourselves from them".

The minister said the approach would be now to "get our planning right" so that Ireland would move to developing floating off-shore wind platforms.

Asked about his upcoming Climate Action Bill, he said he hoped it would be published "within a short number of weeks", adding that the "vast majority" of amendments put forward by the committee would be accepted by the Government.

However, Bríd Smith of People Before Profit said that while today's decision was "good news and a vindication of the climate movement", the Government needed to do more.

She said the decision did not deal with existing licences, some of which are due to run until 2035.

Ms Smith, who campaigned on the issue in the last Dáil, called on Mr Ryan not to either "renew or extend" any existing licences for oil or gas exploration.

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