Department of Finance officials have briefed employer and union representatives on the state of the economy at separate meetings.

Government sources stressed that the meetings were information briefings only.

They said the meetings did not signal a formal re-engagement in social partnership negotiations, which broke down last month.

Speaking on his way in to the briefing, SIPTU President Jack O'Connor said as far as he was aware it was only a technical briefing and that there were no plans for talks.

He said he was not aware of any formal invitation from Government so far to resume discussions on an economic recovery plan.

Mr O'Connor said that if the economic and fiscal situation is deteriorating, then people have a right to expect a plan to be put forward that is fair and to expect that those who are best able to contribute the most do so.

Thus far, he said, such a plan is absent. What unions have sought all along is the application of fair principles, he said.

INTO General Secretary John Carr said the country is in crisis and today is about getting everybody together to discuss that.

He said we need to make sure that the vulnerable are protected, that banks release money and that lower paid and those whose pensions are in trouble are protected.

Unions are prepared to make a contribution, he said, and will do everything in their power to reach a consensus.

Jerry Shanahan of Unite said formal talks with Government could only resume if the Government shows a willingness to engage in a positive way with the proposals contained on the ICTU's 10 point plan.

He said the fact that 120,000 people had taken to the streets a couple of weeks ago seems to have made no impression on Government.