Executive ministers have adjourned a five-hour long meeting aimed at resolving the impasse over the future of local government.
Ministers are due to meet again on Monday after further discussions over the weekend about a plan to reduce the 26 councils to 11.
The Executive is under pressure to decide in time to allow elections planned for May next year to go ahead.
The environment minster has said councils should pay the cost of reform.
Edwin Poots has said the cost of the streamlining process is estimated to be about £118m.
Cutting the number of councils was part of the wider Review of Public Adminstration, which, including reforms to the health and education sectors, was meant to save the Executive more than £400m over the next 25 years.