Tánaiste Micheál Martin has said that the Government and other groups have received "no verification of proof of life" of Emily Hand or other Hamas hostages.

He made the comments as hopes grow that Hamas and Israel may be close to a truce agreement that would see women and children being held hostage released.

It is hoped that this would include nine-year-old Irish-Israeli citizen Emily Hand who has been missing since the Hamas strike on Israel on October 7.

READ MORE - Emily Hand's family and friends hold vigil on birthday of Irish girl held hostage in Gaza

It was initially presumed that the child was dead but her family was later told her DNA had not been found at the Kibbutz Be’rei. It is now assumed that she is being held hostage by Hamas.

Speaking in Dublin Castle on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Martin, who is also the Foreign Affairs Minister, said that while he "hopes and prays" Emily is alive, there has been "no verification" of the status of any hostages.

"There has been some considerable speculation about a deal now for the last 10 days in respect of hostages," he said.

Tanaiste Micheal Martin speaking to the media on the situation in the Middle East during the officially opening of the Joe and Helen O'Toole Community Nursing Unit in Tuam, Co Galway. Picture date: Monday October 16, 2023.

"We want all hostages released. We have raised the case of Emily Hand with all of the key Governments and key agencies that may have influence with people and that have channels with people who could affect the release of the hostages.

"We have prioritised the needs of children and older people and that is our focus.

"I hope and I pray that Emily Hand will be freed along with other hostages.

"The International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent have not had access to the hostages in terms of verification of proof of life of any hostage and that obviously remains a matter of deep anxiety for the families of all those involved.

"I’ve heard commentary from Qatar and others. I spoke to the Egyptian foreign minister last week, and you've been in touch with the Qataris as well.

"We know that the bones of an agreement is there. I think what we're all awaiting now is the realisation of it."

17/11/2023 2nd cousin of Emily Hand, Anna Byrne from Wexford during a birthday for Emily Hand at the entrance of Stephens Green Park, Dublin. Emily celebrated her 9th birthday as a hostage in Hamas captivity following the Hamas attack on Isreal on Saturday, 7 October 2023. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The Tánaiste also said that it is "beyond him" why protestors would deface the Department of Foreign Affairs headquarters in Dublin.

Red paint was put on Iveagh House on St Stephen’s Green during a pro-Palestinian protest last week.

"I mean our diplomats and the headquarter team on the consular side have worked flat out since this began to get Irish civilians out of Gaza," Mr Martin said.

"We've welcomed the fact that we have 51 out. There are more there, some have not yet opted to come out because of family issues and so forth.

"We continue to work with both the Israeli authorities and the Egyptian authorities to get the remaining Irish citizens out of Gaza.

"Why you would attack the Department of Foreign Affairs is simply beyond me.

"Then for Sinn Féin candidates to endorse it is even worse and highly irresponsible and outrageous."

The Irish Mirror contacted Sinn Féin for comment.