It is understood progress has been made in talks on the formation of government.

Negotiations today focused on the economy with some of those involved describing the meeting as one of the most important yet. Members of the Green Party, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil spent six hours focused on macro-financial issues.

One negotiator described the talks as "lengthy" but added "progress was made", while another from a different party said they still looked on course to conclude their negotiations early next week.

Tomorrow's talks are due to centre on the issues of childcare and transport.

The Fine Gael steering group on the talks told its deputy leader Simon Coveney last night that any economic recovery plan will have to be based on realism.

Overall though, Mr Coveney is understood to have delivered a fairly upbeat assessment on the talks to date, as they now enter what is likely to be the most difficult phase.

There is some optimism that an agreement is possible between the parties early next week, and then at that point detailed talks with some Independent TDs could commence.

If things were to proceed along these lines it raises the possibility at least that the membership of the Greens and Fianna Fáil plus Fine Gael's electoral college, could get to give their verdict on an agreement during the second week in June.

Some sources are indicating that the final agreement will not put an undue burden on agriculture as part of the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 7% annually.

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Agreement on govt formation could be reached next week
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