It is reported British Prime Minister Theresa May has secured concessions from Brussels to keep the whole of the UK in a customs union after Brexit.
According to the Sunday Times, that could provide a breakthrough in avoiding a hard border in Ireland.
The newspaper also says preparations for a final deal are “far more advanced than previously disclosed”.
But Downing Street says it is speculation and negotiations are ongoing.
Sinn Féin’s Brexit spokesperson Waterford’s David Cullinane says the backstop is still a necessary part of any withdrawal agreement.
“Our focus in Ireland has to be to make sure that Irish interests are protected,” he said.
“That’s why our focus at this point in time, including the focus of the Irish government and, I would hope, all parties, is to make sure we get the insurance policy that we need, which is the backstop arrangement.
“That means that the North is as closely aligned to the customs union and the single market of the European Union as possible.”