Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have released a joint statement saying that engagement is to continue over the weekend on outstanding issues with direct negotiations between both parties resuming on Monday. 

There is now a stand-off between both sides as talks between Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin earlier today failed to break the deadlock on water charges.

While contact between the parties will continue over the weekend, some Fianna Fáil sources say there is no point in direct negotiations until it is clear there is a basis for resolving the impasse on water charges.

Mr Kenny and Mr Martin met for under an hour in Government Buildings and examined options for resolving the deadlock on the future of water charges and other issues.

Leaving Government Buildings earlier, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan cast doubt on the two teams of negotiators resuming talks over the weekend and suggested it was more likely to be on Monday.

However, he said he could not predict the outcome.

Despite the direct engagement of the Taoiseach and the Fianna Fáil leader today they have been unable to reach a common ground on water charges.

Fine Gael wants water charges to remain in some form but Fianna Fáil wants them suspended. As of now, neither side is willing to budge.

With no agreement yet in sight, the prospect of a minority government being formed next week looks in doubt as any deal would still have to be endorsed by independents.


Analysis from Brian Dowling of RTÉ's Political Staff

The prospects of a minority government being formed next week are fast receding: