An employers group has warned against any increase in the national minimum wage while the economy is under threat from Brexit.

The Small Firms Association said the drop in sterling has already left Irish goods 19% more expensive in the British market.

The association said that no additional cost pressures should be placed on small businesses at a time when they are so vulnerable.

This week the Low Pay Commission will present its report to Government on any increase in the national minimum wage, which currently stands at €9.15 per hour.  

Elsewhere, new British foreign minister and top Brexit backer Boris Johnson has pledged Britain would continue to play a leading role in Europe as he met his European Union peers for the first time.

"We have to give effect to the will of the people and leave the European Union but ... we are not going in any way to abandon our leading role in European participation," Mr Johnson said.

He said he had a "very good conversation" on the subject with EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini yesterday.

"I am very much looking forward to meeting my colleagues," he added.

Mr Johnson was a key player in the 23 June Brexit referendum and his appointment last week stunned many in Europe, with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault saying he had lied to voters during the campaign.

He also infuriated many by comparing the EU's ambitions for closer integration to Adolf Hitler's.

Ms Mogherini said the two had "a good exchange on the main issues on the agenda today".

She refused to be drawn on Britain's negotiations for its departure from the bloc, which EU leaders insist can only start once London invokes Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty to trigger the divorce.

Britain remains a member of the EU until those negotiations are completed, she added.