Minister for Business Heather Humphreys has said that it is hoped government negotiations will conclude "towards the end of this week".

Talks resumed this morning in what is likely to be an intensive 48 hours of negotiations to reach agreement between Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.

Minister for Climate Richard Bruton said there was a belief that a deadline of this week was "achievable".

He said the list of remaining issues were "short and manageable".

He said the programme for government would have to recognise a lot of Fine Gael priorities but all parties would have to make compromises and persuade their memberships that those compromises were in the best interest of the country to provide stable government.

However, there appears to be growing concern in the Green Party this evening about a number of issues under discussion in the programme for government negotiations.

On the 7% target for greenhouse gas emission reductions, Mr Bruton said it was ambitious and challenging, and he said they would have to be imaginative in framing the programme for government.

The programme for government talks are also looking at a plan to further ease commercial rates for companies in the third quarter of the year.

The rates were waived initially for a three-month period from 27 March.

As many businesses are now in the process of reopening, the exact details of a new rates relief plan are being worked on.

Compromises are still needed in the area of taxation, paying the financial deficit, the size of the national herd in the future and the plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 7% annually.

The details of how that plan will impact on sectors such as agriculture and transport still have to be finalised.


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A major jobs initiative to help boost employment in the tourism and hospitality sector as well as a new Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) for farmers are among the measures that could be included in a programme for government deal.

A meeting of the party leaders lasting more than three hours yesterday evening is said to have brought a renewed sense of momentum and got the talks back on track after what appeared to be an impasse.

In a joint statement, they said they had made progress on many outstanding issues.

The parties are understood to be close to agreement on what has been one of the biggest policy differences: whether to defer the increase of the state pension age from 66 to 67.

Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar had suggested a transitional payment would be paid from age 66 and this appears to be the basis for an agreement. 

Fianna Fáil sources expressed confidence that the pension age will remain at 66.

There will also be a longer-term independent review of the entire pensions sector.

There is a move towards what the leaders will hope is good news for the agriculture sector with a REPS mark-two payment scheme that would reward environmentally friendly farm practices that play a role in reducing emissions.

If agreement is reached and approved by party members, one of the first big actions of a new government could be a so-called "July jobs boost", a Fine Gael proposal which would roll out major initiatives to create jobs in sectors such as retail, tourism and hospitality.

As the talks enter their final days, there are policy gaps to bridge. 

It is understood that Fine Gael is insisting that there should be no increases in income taxes or the USC to meet any demands for more spending.

It is expected that negotiations will continue late into tomorrow night and possibly beyond, with the expectation of a final sign off in the second half of the week.

Additional reporting: Mary O'Regan