The Government has said it plans to have its Brexit Omnibus Bill pass all stages in the Oireachtas by Friday 15 March and be signed into law by the President on Friday 29 March - the deadline for the UK to leave the EU.

However, if TDs or Senators require more time, the Oireachtas could be recalled on Monday 18 March, or Monday 25 March, or for both weeks.

The legislation, which was signed-off by Cabinet today, will now be subject to some drafting changes before being published on Friday. 

The mammoth debate on the legislation will start next week.

Given that the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs is taking the lead in bringing the legislation through the Dáil and Seanad, Simon Coveney will remain in Europe over St Patrick's weekend. 

He is due to visit France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands – all of which are key Irish allies in the Brexit negotiations.

The Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe confirmed earlier today that the key features of the Brexit Omnibus Bill had been approved by Cabinet.

Mr Donohoe said the Government will be reliant on the goodwill of the Oireachtas to ensure the legislation is passed before the UK withdrawal deadline on 29 March.

The Omnibus Bill is the Government's legislative response to a no-deal Brexit situation.

Today's Cabinet meeting came with just 38 days left until the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union, amid the continuing diplomatic wrangling over the Withdrawal Agreement.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Mr Donohoe said key details were in place across a variety of departments to help "maintain status quo in the most sensitive areas".

Mr Donohoe also defended the expenditure to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, saying the degree of risk facing Irish businesses is such that the appropriate thing to do is to invest and be ready for it.

He added that while it might turn out that money does not need to be spent this year if a deal is reached, it will still need to be spent in a few years' time.

Mr Donohoe cited the construction of additional customs facilities, as an example.

Earlier, Mr Coveney said a no-deal Brexit would be a "crazy outcome" that would put both the Irish and British economies under unnecessary strain.

Mr Coveney, who will brief party leaders on Thursday, said that Ireland was working with the European Union and listening to the UK to try to find a way forward that does not undermine the Withdrawal Agreement.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney

He reiterated that Ireland was investing "millions and millions of euro" in a contingency plan for a no-deal Brexit.

The Tánaiste said that the Government was finalising a huge piece of legislation that will ensure practical steps are taken in cross-border areas, such as health, education, justice and pension provision.

Mr Coveney said that the Omnibus Bill will involve nine different Government departments and incorporate 16 pieces of legislation in one big bill.

Mr Coveney said in the event of a no-deal scenario there will be have to be some very difficult discussions between Ireland, the UK and the EU to find a way of preventing border infrastructure on the island of Ireland.

While there has been a huge reliance on sourcing medicines from the UK, Mr Coveney said there are no medicines on a 'risk list' that will be unavailable at the end of March.

He said that there is between eight and 12 weeks' supply of all medicines in Ireland and new supply streams are in place in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

The European Parliament

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also told the Dáil that if Article 50 was extended into the summer, then the UK may have to hold elections to the European Parliament and Ireland will be temporarily unable to take up its extra two seats.

The Taoiseach said in this event, the person last elected in the constituencies of Dublin and Ireland South will not take up their seat in the European Parliament until the UK has left.

Mr Varadkar also told the Dáil that should the UK leave before the European Elections take place, UK citizens resident in Ireland will not be able to vote in the elections as they will not be EU citizens.

He said this was "unfortunate", but they could find no way around it, as it would require an amendment to the relevant treaties.

Mr Varadkar added that UK citizens in Ireland will continue to be able to vote in local, Dáil and Seanad elections.