Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has told the Dáil the Brexit negotiations are "a very delicate stage".

He stressed "the need to find agreement" as "time is running out".

Yesterday, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said an agreement with Britain on Brexit was "within reach", and called for decisive progress in the talks in time for a EU summit next week.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Mr Coveney said he was "optimistic" that an agreement can be found.

However, he was said that to his knowledge, there was "no firm agreed position on the Irish backstop from the two negotiating teams that is agreed yet anyway.

"The work continues," he said.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary noted that Mr Barnier said yesterday that there must be customs checks on goods leaving the UK, but not at the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Mr Calleary said he welcomed this, but expressed concern about the language of the DUP and its talks of "blood red lines".

The Tánaiste said the majority of the withdrawal text is agreed, but added that the last 10-15% is "difficult" and it mostly involved Ireland. 

He said the British and EU approach to the backstop is "somewhat different" so they are trying to find a way that will respect the wishes of both sides.

He said we need to give the negotiators the "time and space" to complete this.

Mr Calleary said that uncertainty over Brexit negotiations makes it all the more important the Government engages with the DUP.

The Tanaiste told Mr Calleary that the Government has an ongoing engagement with the DUP and other parties in Northern Ireland.

He said "the DUP are an important voice in Northern Ireland and they are not the only one".

Meanwhile, the DUP's Brexit spokesman said that current negotiations between the EU and the UK would leave Northern Ireland as an "outpost of the EU rather than part of UK".

Speaking on RTÉ News at One, Sammy Wilson said that the DUP does not want to vote against British Prime Minister Theresa May's forthcoming Budget, but are concerned about the way the Brexit negotiations are going.

He said the UK government are being weak and urged Mrs May to stick to her promises.

Mr Wilson said the talks risked Northern Ireland being ruled by Brussels rather than by London and being separated from the rest of UK from participation in trade deals.

He said proposals to deal with EU customs checks are not necessary.

He also said that Northern Ireland does not need to be part of the single market to have "a frictionless trade deal" which the Government want so to work towards.

Mr WIlson said the backstop agreed last December also included no barriers between Northern Ireland and the UK.