The European Commission's chief negotiator in the forthcoming Brexit talks has met with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and senior officials in Dublin today.

Michel Barnier is on a tour of capitals ahead of the negotiations between Britain and the EU, which will formally get under way once the UK government triggers Article 50, some time before the end of March next year.

In a statement, the Taosieach said that during the discussions he emphasised "Ireland's unique set of priorities with regard to Brexit, and the many complex issues relating to Northern Ireland, the Common Travel Area and the depth of our economic and trade relationship with the UK." 

Mr Barnier has already travelled to Berlin, Paris and Warsaw, but this is the first time he was hosted by a head of government.

The former French foreign minister and one time EU Commissioner is essentially in listening mode.

The Commission, and most EU governments, have insisted that Britain cannot get involved in any negotiations with Brussels, or with member states, until Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty has been triggered.

Mr Kenny said: "We will be working closely with the Commission team in the months ahead, as we all address the particular challenges posed by Brexit."

Mr Barnier also had meetings with Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan and Minister for European Affairs Dara Murphy.

Mr Flanagan said the meeting "involved a very constructive, helpful first discussion of the key issues for Ireland."

In a statement, Ms Fitzgerald said she raised justice-specific issues and "stressed that in terms of policing and security, Ireland would like to see the UK remain as close as is possible to the EU."

Mr Barnier, who is expected to take a tough approach to the negotiations, is thought to be sympathetic to the unique risks to which Ireland is exposed once Britain leaves the EU.

But the Government has been accused by opposition parties as being ill-prepared for the hard Brexit, which was signalled by Prime Minister Theresa May at the recent Tory Party conference.

There have been some misgivings also within Government that Ireland has yet to secure an Irish member of the EU institutions on Mr Barnier’s negotiating task force.

However, it is understood that an Irish member of the EU institutions will be added to the team of 20 staff shortly.