"For now, it's still plan A," he told reporters at a Fine Gael conference in Co Kildare.
"We still believe it's possible to have the executive and assembly, all institutions of the Good Friday Agreement up and running, perhaps the next few weeks, perhaps in the new year.
"And there are contacts, there are discussions going on behind the scenes at the moment, and they're making some progress."
He added: "I'm probably a little bit more encouraged now than maybe I was a few weeks ago, but not by any means complacent about the difficulties that are going to arise.
"And I think the British-Irish Council next week in Dublin, and the (British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference) is an opportunity to further develop that.
"I believe there is a real possibility that we could get the assembly and executive up and running again, either before Christmas or in the new year."