A deal has been agreed between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil on the formation of a minority government "in the first initiative of its kind".
Negotiating teams from the two parties spent the day in Trinity College teasing out the final details of the arrangement which sources say has a review date of September 2018.
Members of the Independent Alliance have summoned to Government Buildings for a briefing on the latest developments.
However, they will not be shown the finer details of the deal between the two big parties as Fianna Fáil want their TDs and senators to endorse it before it’s made public.
Talks between Fine Gael and 13 Independents will now continue over the bank holiday weekend with a view to Enda Kenny being re-elected as Taoiseach next Wednesday.
Speaking Friday evening, Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath told reporters he was “pleased and relieved” that the formal negotiations had ended.
“We are hoping that the drafting process can be concluded as quickly as possible. Our own parliamentary party members remain on stand-by for a special meeting of the party to be called at any time over the weekend if necessary to approve or not approve at their discretion the document.”
He described the process as having been “tortuous and long and difficult at times” but said the document would hopefully be a blueprint for future minority governments.
“Hopefully the next number of days will go without any hiccups. And from a Fianna Fáil perspective it is the full body of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party that will make the decision.”
He said that Fianna Fáil had been “very clear from the outset” that they are not entering government but would facilitate a minority government in “the national interest”.
However, Mr McGrath said they wanted their stamp on how that government would operate and people would see that in the final document.
“The housing emergency is the single most important issue facing this country and the single biggest challenging facing the incoming government,” he said, adding that they had brought forward solutions during the talks.
Asked if he believes the deal is historic, Mr McGrath replied: “I know it has been a lengthy and tortuous process but if you think about it we have been talking to Fine Gael for less than three weeks.
"When you consider the history of those parties, the near 100 year history of our state, this is the first initiative of its kind. I think it will be an achievement if we can get this over the line to have a document for the formation of a minority led government.”
As he left Trinity College tonight, Fine Gael’s Paschal Donohoe said: “Both negotiation teams have now concluded their work.
“We have an arrangement across a variety of areas. Intense work will now continue in relation to the text of the agreement between both parties. That will then be shared with the Taoiseach and the leader of Fianna Fáil and our respective parliamentary parties.”
He warned that while the talks are finished said there is still “much work” to be done on the wording of the agreement.
“We look forward to the fruits of that being shared with both parties,” he said.
“I am certain that those people who voted for us in the recent General Election the values of our party, the achievements and work of our party over the last number of years will not only be recognised but will be clear in the agreement that we are now working on with both parties,” Mr Donohoe said.
“Politics is always full of learning and the last few weeks have been particularly rich in that.
The important thing is that the work we have been doing here has come to an end. We have agreement between the negotiating teams,” he said.
He added: “I’ll call it a historic deal when and if it’s concluded.”
If Enda Kenny wants to be re-elected as Taoiseach he needs to do a deal on Irish Water and water charges and, after that, if he wants to remain as Taoiseach for a reasonable period of time he also needs to fundamentally change the way he does business.