Both sides said they had a 'constructive' first meeting

Talks between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil on the confidence and supply arrangement have gotten underway.

The deal is propping the current Fine Gael-led minority Government up - although only covered three budgets, the last of which was revealed earlier this month.

The teams entered negotiations at 3.30pm this afternoon.

Fine Gael had been due to give an update to the press at 5pm, but that was cancelled - with the two parties later saying they'd jointly agreed to not do media interviews following the talks.

In identical statements issued this evening, both parties said the first meeting today had been constructive.

They said: "Both parties have agreed a schedule for next week.

"Both parties will exchange papers next Tuesday, October 30 and these will be reviewed. This will be followed by a full plenary meeting next Thursday, November 1."

Both sides in the talks have already pledged not to bring down the Government while Brexit remains in the balance.

The prospect of an election before Christmas still looks remote – but the talks over the next few weeks will decide how long this Government will last.

Speaking as the talks got underway earlier, Leo Varadkar said he is pitching a two-year extension of the deal to keep his party in power.

He said: "The priority from our point of view - and our objective - is to make sure the country has a stable Government and a functioning Government, that could provide good Government to citizens over the next number of years.

"As I said in the letter that I wrote to Micheál 53 days ago now, a Government can't really function if it doesn't know if it's going to be around next week or next month."