Coalition talks between the Fine Gael and Labour Party negotiating teams concluded for the evening before 10pm.

They are due to resume tomorrow. Neither side is commenting on the progress of the discussions.

It is understood that Government officials are providing information and assistance to the negotiating teams.

The talks began at midday, earlier than had been anticipated.

Fine Gael is represented in the negotiations by TDs Phil Hogan, Michael Noonan and Alan Shatter.

Labour's team is comprised of Joan Burton, Pat Rabbitte and Brendan Howlin, along with economic adviser Colm O'Riordan.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen offered the parties facilities to help in the talks.

Party leaders Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore held their second meeting in two days this morning.

The talks face a weekend deadline, when Labour is due to hold a special conference.

Independents meet over technical group

Seven Independent TDs met in Leinster House this evening to discuss the formation of a technical Group in the new Dáil.

Another TD expressed interest but was unable to attend.

The group is to contact all remaining TDs who are not members of recognised party groups - Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Féin - to invite them to a further meeting next Tuesday.

A Technical Group needs a majority of the unaligned TDs, which in this Dáil means at least ten.

It seems certain that such a group will be formed, guaranteeing speaking rights in the Chamber.

It is understood that none of the Independents has been approached by Fine Gael to see if they would be prepared to support a minority government.