Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar has said a government led by either Fianna Fáil or Sinn Féin would lead Ireland back into austerity within a few years.

Speaking in Co Wexford, he said Fianna Fáil had been badly exposed on policy so far - having to change their housing numbers and proposing "quite extraordinarily only a €2 a week increase for people with disabilities, carers, widows, when they can find €260m to cut taxes for the best off."

On Sinn Féin, he said the party manifesto "could have been written by Jeremy Corbyn" and did not take the transient nature of business into account.

"[They're promising] €20 billion in extra spending, much more than recommended by the Department of Finance or the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, and making up the difference through punitive taxes on business, on property, on pension funds and on wealth," he said.

"What Sinn Féin doesn't seem to understand is that businesses can leave and in the 21st century wealth funds can be moved offshore within a matter of weeks.

"I think that if we saw either Fianna Fáil or Sinn Féin lead the next government we'd be on the pathway back to austerity within a few years."

A panel of Independent candidates has said that both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil should engage with Sinn Féin after the general election.

Speaking on RTÉ's The Week In Politics, Thomas Pringle said it was "very disingenuous" for the big parties to say they would not speak with Sinn Féin, adding "... we will see what happens after the election."

Michael Fitzmaurice said voters were "sick of the idea" that big parties refused to talk to smaller parties and argued they "need to get over it".

Mattie McGrath maintained that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have to "respect the mandate" of anyone who is elected and he predicted  "... they will have to talk to everyone".

Joan Collins said she would be looking to help form a "progressive left" block in the Dáil.

Verona Murphy said she would be a voice for Wexford if elected, adding: "If FIne Gael, Fianna Fáil or anyone produces a proposal... that meets my red lines, then I will vote for it."

Meanwhile, Fine Gael's Richard Bruton has dismissed an Irish Times report which suggested that his party has "paused" the constituency voting divide between himself and running mate Catherine Noone.

Ms Noone was involved in controversy earlier this week for calling party leader Leo Varadkar "autistic" - but later issued a statement in which she "unequivocally" apologised for "all of my remarks".

Speaking on Virgin Media One tonight, Mr Bruton said he had spoken with Fine Gael's Director of Elections today and the story was as "not accurate".

He added: "The newspapers have it wrong... the strategy that we have in place will continue.... I am calling for number ones for her in I suppose in what would be about half the constituency".

The Irish Times deputy political editor Fiach Kelly is standing over his story, tweeting: "It was sourced at both local and national level in Fine Gael. We used the word 'paused' on the constituency divide very deliberately."

Additional reporting: Paul Cunningham