Leo Varadkar has predicted “real difficulty” in forming a government after the election.
“If the polls are correct, then I think we are going to have real difficulty forming a government,” he told Clare FM.
The election “three-horse race” has taken everyone by surprise.
“No election is easy. It has turned into is a three-horse race - Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Sinn Fein - which I think nobody would have anticipated at the start of this campaign, that it would be a three-horse race, but it is,” he said.
“My fear is that a Fianna Fail-led government or a Sinn Fein-led government - or the two of them in bed together. That could set us backwards, so people have a big decision to make.”
Mr Varadkar also revealed he would fight to retain leadership of Fine Gael in the event of his party losing the general election.
Under party rules, he would have to submit himself to a confidence vote.
“If that were to happen, I would ask to stay on as party leader and lead the Opposition, and be ready to pick up the pieces in five years time after Fianna Fail do to the country what they usually do,” he said.
On health, Mr Varadkar said he “deeply regrets” that anyone has to spend any time on a hospital trolley.
“In a wealthy country like Ireland no-one should have to experience that, certainly their relatives should not have to either, and I know what it is like for the staff too.”
But he said it is not true to say nothing was happening to fix the problems.
The housing crisis has come up “in so many different ways” during the election campaign, he accepted, saying issues ranged “from people who are paying rents that are far too high, to people in their thirties living at home who are trying to buy their first home, struggling to get a deposit, to the really sharp end of things which is families in emergency accommodation.”
“But I actually, genuinely think we are making progress on this,” he said.
Mr Varadkar said more houses are being built, house prices are levelling off, rents are going down and the number in emergency accommodation is falling back.
Promises from other parties to double housing within a year “is not honest”, he added.
On regional disparity in Ireland, Mr Varadkar said: “There is an east-west divide and it is very hard actually for governments to turn that around. It exists in every country, London and the rest (of Britain), Paris and the rest of the country. It is not that that happens because of government policy, it is just because of the drift of the cities - it is an international phenomenon. But we do try to push back against that as a government.”
The Taoiseach cited the National Broadband Plan and Shannon Airport as examples.