Irish premier Micheal Martin said he “fervently” hopes a deal will be struck in the Brexit trade talks.
Mr Martin said “intensive talks” have been ongoing between the UK and EU’s negotiating teams in a bid to hammer out a deal before the deadline.
He said that further talks and engagement is likely to continue over the weekend, as both sides hope to make progress on the sticking points of the negotiations.
“I fervently hope there will be a deal,” Mr Martin said.
“I think a deal is in the best interests of the United Kingdom, it’s in the best interests of the island of Ireland, it’s in the best interests of the EU.
“Particularly in the people we represent, workers, businesses, people involved in education across the board.
“We need to give people certainty about the future.
“A sensible trade deal would be a very important step in the right direction for all of our people now, given the enormous negative impact of Covid-19 on our economic and social life.”
Fishing and the so-called “level playing field” aimed at preventing unfair competition on state subsidies and standards remain the main issues to be resolved in the talks.
With the Brexit transition deadline ending on December 31, time is running out to secure a trade deal which needs to be approved by the EU’s leaders, Westminster and the European Parliament.
Mr Martin said the shock a no-deal Brexit would bring would be the “last thing” citizens need.
“I have faith and trust in the EU negotiating team, in Michel Barnier and in president Ursula von der Leyen of the (European) Commission,” he said in Dublin on Friday.
“There have been some countries putting pressure on wanting to seek additional information – 27 states can’t negotiate collectively.
“We’ve got to allow them (the negotiating teams) the space to conclude their talks and hopefully achieve an agreement out of this.”