TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has ruled out a Labour Party vote transfer pact with Fine Gael in the upcoming local and European elections.
However, Labour's deputy leader Joan Burton says that it is too early to say whether a formal deal between the two parties will be struck.
Mr Gilmore's stance comes as Labour seeks to distance itself from Fine Gael in the eyes of voters, despite the parties being in coalition.
However, Fine Gael is open to a vote transfer pact with Labour and the party is expected to ask its supporters to pass on their support to their coalition partners.
The Tanaiste is the most senior Government figure to dismiss the possibility of such an arrangement, which has been proposed by Government Chief Whip and Fine Gael junior minister Paul Kehoe.
Although Ms Burton suggested that there may be merits in such a vote transfer pact, Mr Gilmore dismissed the view outright.
"You can't direct people how to vote. People vote as they choose to vote," the Tanaiste said.
"I think elections are competitive. And I think the reality of any election is sometimes it's very difficult to get two candidates from the one party to encourage second preferences for each other," he said.
"I think what you find in an election is, you find people who go out, they look for the first preference vote."
Mr Gilmore's remarks are expected to be welcomed by a number of Labour TDs who believe Fine Gael would benefit most from a formal vote transfer pact.
However, the clear division between Mr Gilmore and Ms Burton on the issue is sure to unnerve Labour members ahead of the party's conference on Saturday.