LEO VARADKAR has urged Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil to form a coalition government after admitting that his party are preparing for life in opposition.
Speaking after a six-hour meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party on Monday, Mr Varadkar once again failed to rule out the possibility of a striking a deal with Fianna Fáil, but added that it was unlikely.
"I don't foresee that happening," he said after the meeting in Leinster House.
"The future is about leading the party into opposition."
Party leaders are in the process of meeting one another in an attempt to form a coalition government in the coming weeks, after no party emerged with an overall majority in last week's General Election.
Varadkar has consistently ruled out any possibility of his party joining forces with Sinn Féin. Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin on the other hand made the same pledge prior to the election results, but has failed to double down on the claim since the polls closed.
During Fine Gael's meeting, the overwhelming consensus was that the party should regroup and go into opposition, according to the Irish Times, following what was one of the poorest election results in their history.
The possibility of remaining in government is believed to be viewed by members of the party as something of a last resort.
Following the election, Fianna Fáil ended up with 38 seats, Sinn Féin with 37 and Fine Gael 35, and Varadkar now insists that the ball is now in the court of Michael Martin and Mary Lou McDonald to form a government.
Mr Varadkar said: "For the last three or four years now, the Opposition parties voted together on so many different matters - Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil, the parties of the left, the Independents - more often than not they voted with each other.
"They make up nearly 80 per cent of the new Dáil. The onus is on them to form a government, not us."