By Olivia Kelleher
Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said that a minority Government could not be allowed to "limp from week to week" and that an election would have to be called if a new confidence and supply agreement was not negotiated.
Speaking during the launch of a new branding initiative in Cork the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade said that his hope was that a new agreement with Fianna Fáil could be agreed.
He insisted that his party wasn't one for getting "carried away" with polls.
"Fine Gael does not get carried away with one or two or even half a dozen polls," said Mr Coveney.
"I am glad that opinion polls seem to be showing that what we are trying to do in government is being recognised as moving the country in the right direction.
"As soon as the budget is over, I would expect Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will have negotiating teams talking to each other about whether or not the 'confidence & supply' agreement can and will be extended.
One thing is certain though - if we don't have an extension of the 'confidence & supply' agreement, we won't have stable Government.
He stressed the country "cannot limp from week to week or month to month not knowing whether the Government will survive or not because there isn't an agreement in place with the main opposition party."
"In that scenario we would have to go to the country for the certainty that we need to provide good Government."
He said that he hoped that an agreement could be hammered out between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.
"As the Taoiseach and I have both stated, we would have liked to have started those negotiations in the summer.
"As opposed to the middle of probably the busiest period this Government has faced yet in terms of trying to finalise a deal on Brexit, trying to finalise a budget - but we have to respect Fianna Fáil's perspective on that.
[quote]There are big, big challenges ahead not least of which is Brexit. Housing is now our number one priority going into this budget followed very closely in second by healthcare.[/quote]
He added that the Irish economy is in a much better place now than it was when Fine Gael was asked to take over the Government seven years ago with the Labour Party.
"Here in Cork we are now looking at close to 4% unemployment which is about the lowest in the country.
"Seven years ago that was close to 15%. Huge strides have been made - the Irish economy will again be the fastest growing in the EU this year for the fourth year running.
"We want the opportunity to continue to build not only a stronger economy but a fairer and stronger society as well."