The Tánaiste Simon Coveney is in Belfast to head up Government efforts to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland.
He is co-chairing all party talks at Stormont alongside the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Julian Smith.
Discussions took place today aimed at restoring devolved government, ahead of a deadline in less than two weeks.
Sinn Féin said they believed a deal could be achieved in the short term, while the DUP has insisted they want the institutions back up-and-running as soon as possible.
Both the Irish and British Governments have said a potential deal is close.
The two sides have set a deadline of January 13th to form a new executive, or else fresh election will be called there.
Quiet road, on way back to #Belfast early morning for talks to get #Stormont working again. 2020 can be a new beginning for politics in NI with leadership & generosity from all sides - we’ve got less than 2 weeks - let’s not disappoint again! NEW YEAR, NEW BEGINNING! pic.twitter.com/FlYzoJ6X1W
— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) January 1, 2020
There has been no executive at Stormont since it collapsed amid the 'Cash for Ash' scandal in 2017.
The scandal revolved around the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI), which was designed to encourage businesses to replace older heating sources with eco-friendly alternatives.
Problems with the scheme - introduced under the watch of DUP leader Arlene Foster while she was enterprise minister - meant that subsidies exceeded the cost price of the fuel, effectively encouraging users to burn extra fuel in order to claim money.
The region marked a milestone of 1,000 days without a working devolved government in October.
The DUP was blamed after efforts to reach a deal were delayed again last month.
The party had claimed it was working to get the "right deal for a sustainable executive and a sustainable assembly".
As a result of no sitting executive, London has introduced legislation to bring Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK around the issues of same-sex marriage and abortion services.
Mr Coveney says he is hopeful of a breakthrough in the next few days.
"Northern Ireland has not had government for three years now; we've been working on this for many months.
"And I believe that the two governments - working together and working with all of the parties in Northern Ireland - can find a basis in the next few days to get devolved institutions back up and running again in Northern Ireland to ensure that the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement are actually functioning again.
"Not only for political parties, but much more importantly for communities across Northern Ireland that need their own government making decisions for Northern Ireland again".
The DUP today insisted it wants a deal on the restoration of a devolved government in the North as soon as possible.
The party's Westminster leader Jeffrey Donaldson said "talking about going to the wire" is never a sensible way to negotiate, and that they want a deal done as quickly as possible.
However, he added: "We also want to ensure that the agreement is fair and balanced... that it is sustainable... that the political institutions that are restored are sustainable... [and] that we have a lengthy period of political stability."