Fianna Fáil has confirmed that its leader, Micheál Martin, has written to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar seeking to strike a deal on a date for a general election next year.

The party is not releasing the letter to the media, however a report in the Sunday Independent said Mr Martin wrote to Mr Varadkar stating it was time to "step in and give some certainty".

The paper quotes from the letter as Mr Martin saying: "The responsible thing to do at this point is to end the speculation and agree a date for the dissolution of the Dáil, a date for the holding of an election."

He continued: "Nothing positive can be achieved if we allow growing escalation of speculation."

This afternoon, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney refused to be drawn on an election date, stating it is up to the two party leaders to decide "when the time is right".

However, speaking on RTÉ's This Week, he said Mr Martin was "slow off the mark" on the issue as 18 months ago the Taoiseach had written to the Fianna Fáil leader requesting they agree a date for an election in May.

"It is Micheál Martin who hasn't shown consistency," Mr Coveney said.

The two party leaders are due to meet at the end of this coming week to discuss the matter, Mr Coveney added.

He said he thinks the Confidence and Supply Agreement has worked to date and maintained stability, especially if you compare politics in Ireland to how it has been in the UK.

He described it as "mature politics dealing with complex issues" and that is to the credit of both parties.

The focus now is trying to get the timing right for a general election and not to play party politics, he added.

Mr Coveney said his own attention is not on an election but on Belfast, where he will be hoping to make progress there this week to get Stormont back up and running.

On RTÉ Radio 1 yesterday, the Taoiseach said his preference was still a summer election "for a lot of reasons".

Mr Varadkar said his attention at the moment is not on election planning, but on doing his day-to-day job.

He said: "When this Government was formed I don't think anyone thought it would last this long. The reason it has is because of a truce between the two main parties over Brexit."

Mr Varadkar said there now essentially is "Brexit moving on to another phase. What we have achieved is avoiding a hard no-deal Brexit".

He added that they will have a new Government for the new phase of Brexit.

Mr Varadkar also said the timing of the election may not be his or the Fianna Fáil leader's call due to the tight numbers in the Dáil for the minority Government.

Mr Martin told Newstalk today that he had written to the Taoiseach requesting they agree what he called a "sensible timeline" for the next general election.

Mr Martin said a deal was necessary because it was not credible for the Dáil to return after the Easter break, and it was not tenable for the Oireachtas to operate on a week-by-week basis from January.

However, the offer received a lukewarm response from the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed on RTÉ's The Week In Politics.

He said Fine Gael wanted to have an election when it is right for the country, "not for Fianna Fáil".