Talks between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil - the first time the two parties have sat down for discussions since the General Election was held on 8 February - have concluded for the day.

Both will hold parliamentary party meetings tomorrow.

Fine Gael sources continue to stress that the talks are not about government formation, but rather exchanges of policy positions.

It is understood that party leaders Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin are not participating in the process.

Instead, senior frontbench members like Simon Coveney and Paschal Donohoe, Dara Calleary and Michael McGrath are in attendance and discussing topics such as housing, health, the economy and climate change.

The meetings were agreed following contact between Mr Varadkar and Mr Martin a week ago.

Fine Gael continues to characterise this process as a means of facilitating other parties to form a government - rather than examining the compatibility of their policies for a Programme for Government.

Despite that position, it is expected that the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil leaders will meet to review the talks' outcome in the near future.

The discussions took place in advance of the Dáil returning tomorrow for a second time since the election.

Fianna Fáil's finance spokesperson Michael McGrath said his party had a "very good" discussion today with Fine Gael about the economy, the National Development Plan, health, housing, and climate action.

TDs from the parties met for two sessions this morning and later in the afternoon.

The Cork South Central TD said that his party stands ready to take the next step and begin talks about government formation as soon as possible.

In a statement, Fine Gael said that it held "good discussions today in a policy exchange" with Fianna Fáil, and that a range of policy issues were discussed.  

The Fine Gael talks team today included Simon Coveney, Paschal Donohoe, Heather Humphreys, Josepha Madigan and Eoghan Murphy.

Fianna Fáil was represented by Michael McGrath, Dara Calleary, Ann Rabbitte, Barry Cowen, Darragh O'Brien, Thomas Byrne and Jack Chambers.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has accused Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael of game playing.

She said the two parties were looking for cover as they tried to return to government.

The idea of a Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael government is not what the people want, Ms McDonald said.

The Sinn Féin leader also said that her party's talks with other parties and Independents have reached the substantial phase.

Asked about an invitation from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to Sinn Féin to hold policy discussions, Ms McDonald said that any talks would have to be based on mutual respect.

Additional reporting Paul Cunningham & Sorcha Ní Riada