The Tanaiste 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 Fail later on Tuesday.
It is the first time Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin will hold talks since the general election.
Today we had the first of a set of exploratory talks, starting with Sinn FÃ©in. 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 Fein following on from discussions with the party on Monday.
Meanwhile Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said the party’s rallies are to “continue the conversation” with people.
On Monday the party held their first in a series of meetings to rally support for Sinn Fein’s efforts to get into government.
Between 800 and 1,000 people attended the meeting in Cork.
Over the next fortnight, further meetings are planned for Dublin, Galway, Cavan and Newry.
“I am very conscience that election day came and went but the issues didn’t come and go,” she said.
“We still have a housing crisis, we still have huge difficulties in our health services, people are still under real pressure.
“I don’t believe that you have the election and then politicians retreat behind high walls and have a private discussion.
“I think it’s really important that you come out, that you set out your stall for people, that you report on progress and also that you take questions and you answer them and you listen to people’s ideas.
“Faith has been fractured in politics.
“A lot of people are very cynical about the entire political process, that’s negative, that’s a bad thing and I want us to rebuild confidence and hope and that sense of connectedness between people and the political system, and between people and their government.”
Ms McDonald added that Sinn Fein has been elected on a mandate of change.
“People have told me that – people told me they voted for Sinn Fein because they wanted a new government,” she added.
“They don’t want Fianna Fail and Fine Gael back in government, they want a new approach to government, they want the priorities of ordinary working people to be put front and centre.
“They want a government of change, so I want to continue that conversation with people around that government for change, and I have said to people my job as a political leader is to do everything that I can to ensure that government comes to be.
“This is for me a priority as the leader of the party, that we consistently engage with people and that people have every opportunity to be connected and involved in politics and in the processes that make critical decisions that affect their live.
“I think that’s real democracy in action.”
Ms McDonald said they are continuing their talks with the Greens, Social Democrats and Solidarity-People Before Profit this week
“We are knuckling down beyond generalities and into specific policy areas and proposals,” she added.
“I think it’s important everyone talks to each other and people are grown up and mature and they don’t adopt an attitude that would seek to set aside the mandate of Sinn Fein.”