New British prime minister Rishi Sunak has told Taoiseach Micheál Martin that he would prefers a “negotiated outcome” to issues caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The two leaders held a phone conversation on Wednesday evening.
Mr Martin said they discussed the need to find “agreed solutions” on the protocol.
The post-Brexit trading treaty, which is fiercely opposed by unionists in Northern Ireland, has led to the collapse of the Stormont Assembly and Executive.
The DUP has said it will not engage with the devolved institutions in Belfast until decisive action is taken to remove the protocol’s effect on trade between Britain and Northern Ireland.
The UK government has vowed to secure changes to the protocol, either by a negotiated compromise with the EU or through proposed domestic legislation – the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill – which would empower ministers to scrap the arrangements without the approval of Brussels.
The European Commission has warned that such unilateral action at Westminster would be in breach of international law and could prompt retaliatory action.
Good conversation with British PM @RishiSunak this evening. Discussed cooperation on Ukraine and ongoing developments in NI.
Agreed on importance of EU-UK negotiations to find agreed solutions on the Protocol.
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) October 26, 2022
Following his conversation with Mr Sunak, the Taoiseach tweeted: “Good conversation with British PM @RishiSunak this evening.
“Discussed co-operation on Ukraine and ongoing developments in NI. Agreed on importance of EU-UK negotiations to find agreed solutions on the protocol.”
A spokesman for the Taoiseach said: “The Taoiseach and Prime Minister Sunak spoke this evening.
“The Taoiseach congratulated PM Sunak on his appointment and looked forward to the two Governments working closely together. They discussed cooperation in the response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“They both agreed on the importance of EU-UK engagement to find agreed solutions to the issues around the Northern Ireland Protocol, and they discussed ongoing developments in Northern Ireland.
“The Taoiseach and the Prime Minister reiterated their commitment to a strong British-Irish relationship and looked forward to an early opportunity to meet.”
Pleased to speak to @MichealMartinTD tonight, discussing how the UK and Ireland as close neighbours & friends can work together in the coming months.
I also thanked him for Ireland’s steadfast support for Ukraine.
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) October 26, 2022
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke to Taoiseach Micheál Martin this evening.
“The leaders agreed on the vital importance of a strong relationship between the UK and Ireland and expressed their determination to build on that friendship in the coming months.
“The Prime Minister welcomed Ireland’s ongoing support for Ukraine, and the leaders agreed on the importance of continued international unity in the face of [Vladimir] Putin’s aggression.
“Discussing the Northern Ireland Protocol, the Prime Minister set out that his preference remained a negotiated outcome and hoped all parties would approach the current challenges with pragmatism and goodwill.
“The leaders agreed on the urgent need for a functioning executive in Northern Ireland. Both undertook to continue discussions in the coming weeks and months.”
Very good phone call with UK PM @RishiSunak
🇪🇺🇬🇧 are strategic partners.
Looking forward to working on crucial issues such as Russia’s war on Ukraine and climate change.
And on finding joint solutions under the Protocol on IE/NI that will provide stability and predictability. pic.twitter.com/iJ8czqwQoB
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) October 26, 2022
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen also had a phone conversation with Mr Sunak.
She tweeted: “Very good phone call with UK PM @RishiSunak. [The EU and UK] are strategic partners.
“Looking forward to working on crucial issues such as Russia’s war on Ukraine and climate change. And on finding joint solutions under the [Northern Ireland] Protocol on IE/NI that will provide stability and predictability.”