The Tánaiste has said that the coronavirus and ongoing Brexit negotiations add further urgency to forming a government in Ireland.
Simon Coveney was speaking in Brussels ahead of the special EU Council summit.
Mr Coveney warned Brexit will dominate Irish politics for the foreseeable future.
“I think it will because the future relationship with the UK is something that is going to fundamentally impact on the health of the Irish economy, its growth rates and how goods come and go in and out of our markets which is based on exports with the rest of the EU, but also with the rest of the world,” he said.
“So, of course if we could have a government in place following on from the general election recognising the mandates that all parties have that would be great, but I’m afraid it’s not as simple as that, if it was we would making more progress on it.
🇪🇺🇮🇪 Ahead of the Council today, good to touch base with @simoncoveney, @HMcEntee and team. We will keep a very close eye on the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement – this will be key for building a solid future partnership with the #UK. pic.twitter.com/8zqaLbYHWI
— Michel Barnier (@MichelBarnier) February 25, 2020
“I think it’s going to take some more time to deal with the new realities of Irish politics which is that the political landscape is quite fractured, and certainly Fine Gael will try to be be constructive in terms of how we move forward.
“In many ways the meetings that Helen (McEntee) and I are having today are a reminder of why it’s important for a new government to be formed soon.”
His comments come ahead of a meeting between the leaders of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil later on Tuesday.
It is the first time Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin will hold talks since the general election.
Today we had the first of a set of exploratory talks, starting with Sinn Féin. Mostly overview, tomorrow we’ll be getting into the nitty gritty policy debates. We’ll meet other parties later in the week. (Not just me and @pippa_hackett btw! 😁😬) pic.twitter.com/dohWhtdb56
— Neasa Hourigan TD (@neasa_neasa) February 24, 2020
On Monday, Mr Varadkar described the meeting as “exploratory discussions”, adding that his party is still preparing to go into opposition.
The Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has also scheduled talks with Sinn Féin following on from discussions with the party on Monday.