Reuters International

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny casts a shadow as he addresses supporters in Dublin, in this February 26, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Darren Staples

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DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland's political parties are edging towards an agreement that will enable the formation of a new government, Acting Finance Minister Michael Noonan said on Thursday, after weeks of talks aimed at breaking a post-election deadlock.

Ireland joined a growing list of euro zone countries with splintered parliaments in late February, when voters angry at not feeling any lift from posting Europe's fastest economic growth ousted the coalition government but failed to pick a clear alternative.

"There'll be a government, I think. It's more likely now. It's moving in that direction," Noonan told reporters on Thursday. "Things are moving slowly but satisfactorily. I don't want to put a timeline on it."

Noonan's Fine Gael party is in talks to persuade its long-time rival, the centre-right Fianna Fail, to enable a minority government by abstaining on key votes.

Fine Gael would then need to secure the support of six lawmakers outside its own party to give it the 58 votes it needs to pass legislation.

Noonan added that there had been no perceived change in market sentiment towards Ireland from the election or Britain's upcoming referendum on European Union membership, and that neither had delayed any foreign direct investment into Ireland.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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