Fianna Fáil's finance spokesperson has said legislation needs to be prioritised and passed within months that gives the Central Bank the power to directly regulate so-called vulture funds that acquire mortgages in arrears.

Michael McGrath said this needs to be achieved before the sale of such mortgages by Permanent TSB.

He also said the code of conduct in relation to mortgages in arrears needs to be reviewed.

It comes after Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said he would brief his colleagues on a bill by Fianna Fáil to ensure that vulture funds that acquire mortgages in arrears are directly regulated by the Central Bank.

Following a meeting with Mr McGrath, the minister said he is confident an agreement can be reached.

The Cabinet was also due to be briefed today on the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement.

The legal text, which is set to be published tomorrow by the European Commission, will give effect to what was agreed at the end of the first phase of the Brexit negotiations in December. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Theresa May last night spoke by telephone about the latest development in the UK's exit from the EU.

Both leaders want last December's commitments on the border to be examined in detail in the EU's draft legal text.

The Government wants the text to include the commitment that if there is no agreed solution, then the UK will maintain full alignment with the customs union and single market in relation to the border.

Separately, Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe sought approval for two naval vessels to be deployed later this year as part of the EU operation to combat human smugglers in the Mediterranean.

The previous deployment of LE Niamh resulted in 613 migrants being rescued.

Also on the agenda were plans by the child and family agency Tusla to address the needs of homeless families and their children.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone was to brief ministers on the plans, which will see Tusla teams assigned to family hubs.

They will also be instructed to visit and meet families on a regular basis to "assist with and provide necessary services".

Local community family resource centres will also be used to help children who cannot access emergency accommodation during the day.

There was also to be a discussion on preparations being put in place for this week's cold weather.