One of the country's top industrial relations mediators has been given less than a week to conclude talks with trade unions over pay cuts.
The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform was briefed by Kieran Mulvey, chief executive of the Labour Relations Commission (LRC), on developments with union leaders over the last 10 days.
"Mr Mulvey has requested that the Minister would grant the LRC additional time to explore with the trade unions and relevant management potential areas for progress that have emerged as part of the above engagement process," his department said in a statement.
"The Minister agreed to this request on the basis that this limited and intensive process would conclude over the coming week in order that the Minister may provide a full report to the Cabinet on Tuesday May 14."
The initiative was taken after several unions overwhelmingly rejected pay cuts and reforms under Croke Park II.
But Mr Howlin has warned the Government remains committed to taking 300 million euro off the public sector pay and pensions bill this year, and one billion euro by 2015.
Among the unions to vote against the deal were Siptu, the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO), the Association of Secondary Teachers' of Ireland (Asti), the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI), the Irish Nurses' and Midwives' Organisation (INMO) and the Civil and Public Services Union (CPSU).