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Taoiseach Micheál Martin leaving 10 Downing Street today. PA

Taoiseach sees opportunity to ‘reset’ relations with UK after ‘warm’ meeting with Truss

Micheál Martin met Liz Truss during a trip to London to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN said he sees an opportunity to “reset” Ireland’s relationship with the UK after meeting UK Prime Minister Liz Truss today.

Martin said he had a “warm” meeting with Truss and refrained from answering questions on the Northern Ireland protocol of the Brexit agreement.

“I don’t think this is the time, if you don’t mind me saying so, to get into the detail about issues like the protocol,” he said during an interview on BBC Radio 4, adding that he respects the period of national mourning the UK is currently engaged in.

The talks during the UK’s mourning period, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, are being portrayed as chats rather than formal bilateral sessions, but the meeting comes against a backdrop of political tensions over post-Brexit trading arrangements.

The Taoiseach and President Michael D Higgins both paid their respects to the queen at her lying-in-state in Westminster Hall today.

Martin continued: “I had a good telephone conversation last week with the British Prime Minister, had an initial warm meeting this morning where we discussed many issues in the context of the British-Irish relationship.

“But I do think the opportunity is there for us to reset relationships and to be conscious of what we achieved in previous years, the obstacles that were overcome then.

And that gives us the strength to know that we have the capacity to overcome current obstacles, current issues that potentially could impede the relationship, and I believe we can overcome them.

The meeting comes as Britain is expected to push ahead with legislation to give ministers the power to scrap parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which was jointly agreed by the UK and EU in order to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Both the EU and Ireland claim Britain’s move to unilaterally revise the post-Brexit treaty would breach international law.

The issue is expected to ramp up ahead of a deadline at the end of October to form a new Northern Ireland Executive, which the DUP has so far blocked in protest over the protocol.

Truss had been due to meet US president Joe Biden, a milestone of her early premiership, but the talks were cancelled, with a “full bilateral meeting” scheduled instead for Wednesday, when they are set to be in New York for the UN General Assembly.

Along with meeting the Taoiseach, Truss will also meet Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Polish president Andrzej Duda in Downing Street.

Martin previously met Truss in person briefly shortly after she became Prime Minister earlier this month.

They were seated next to one another during a memorial service for the queen at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast on Tuesday. 

Additional reporting from Céimin Burke

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