Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said a confidence and supply type agreement to form a government is “unlikely” and has categorically ruled out the possibility of Fine Gael working with Sinn Fein.
Arriving at Nemo Rangers count centre for the Cork South Central constituency, Mr Coveney said: "This is a very fragmented political landscape. It looks like nobody is going to get more than 45 seats.
"There is an obligation for parties to talk to each other to put together a government that will work for everybody,” he said.
“I think in the aftermath of this election, the likelihood of a confidence and supply type arrangement is unlikely.
"I think Ireland needs a government that has a majority that can make things happen and respond to what the electorate is looking for."
When questioned as to whether his party may now be willing to work with Sinn Féin following a huge surge in support for the party, he reiterated Fine Gael’s stance during the campaign.
“Clearly there have been huge changes in this election. Sinn Féin has done very well and we’re going to have to wait and see where the seats lie at the end of this process.
"I think we’re going to see a long and extended process of discussion between the political parties before we know what the next Government is going to look like.
“The Fine Gael position has been very clear during this campaign, the people voted on that basis and we are not going to change our position.
“We have made it very, very clear, Fine Gael will not be going into Government with Sinn Féin,” he added.
"Sinn Fein do have a mandate, a significant mandate and we respect that vote but that’s a different thing to trying to put a government together that can last, that’s compatible and can make decisions for the country in a coherent way. I just don’t believe in the policy platform that Sinn Féin are outlining.
"We’re open to talk to any party but we won’t be forming a Government with Sinn Féin. We have never ruled out Fianna Fáil. The country needs a government and Fine Gael will work towards that. If we have to move into opposition, so be it.
"We sensed during the campaign that a lot of people wanted something different and the electorate were restless. It wasn’t so much anger, it was more so a willingness to vote for something quite different and we see the result.
"It’s a significant achievement for Donnchadh O Laoghaire and I would say well done to him."