Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said a Brexit deal is possible "this month, it may even be possible this week" - but has urged caution saying "we're not there yet".
Speaking to reporters as he arrived at the EU general assembly council meeting in Luxembourg on Monday morning, Mr Coveney said while progress has been made "there is still a lot of work to do".
Hopes of a deal at the EU summit of leaders on Thursday and Friday were raised late last week after
The hopes were based on the the widely expected view that both leaders were open to Northern Ireland continuing to implement EU customs rules while officially leaving with the rest of the UK.
After a weekend of intensive behind the scenes talks in Brussels, on Sunday night the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier dampened hopes of a deal this week.
The concern was raised further by the fact Brexiteers were quoted in British media saying the EU is asking for more concessions which they find unacceptable.
Hopes remain of a deal being struck by the EU summit on Thursday and Friday, a move needed to prevent either a crash-out, no-deal Brexit in just a fortnight's time or an extension to the current October 31 Brexit deadline.
However, while saying he still believes an agreement can be reached, speaking to reporters as he arrived at the EU general assembly council meeting - a meeting which will decide by Wednesday morning if a deal is possible - Mr Coveney said hurdles are still in the way.
I think when it comes to Brexit the less said the better. We need to give time and space to Michel Barnier and his negotiating team.
"I think it's pretty clear what we're trying to do, but there are pretty detailed discussions now and I think we need to give the time and space for that to happen.
"Hopefully we can make progress on those.
"The message I would give is we need to be cautious, this is not an easy job.
"We've spent three years trying to get an agreement between the two sides and [there has been] progress at different times, but certainly the last few months have been difficult.
"So certainly, as you know, my Taoiseach has said a deal is possible, it is possible this month, it may even be possible this week, but we're not there yet.
"As Michel Barnier said yesterday, there's still a lot of work to do, and I hope we can make progress today," Mr Coveney said.