The Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, has suggested that a more shared response is needed in to the future, to the Covid crisis between the British and Irish governments and the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Speaking after a virtual meeting of the British Irish Council, Mr Martin said there was a "very useful discussion" on the impact of Covid-19 and the various measures that each administration is taking to reduce its spread.

"It would be very useful if the secretariat of the British Irish Council could pull together the varying responses and the approaches of the various administrations to Covid to date, do a bit more work on analytics so that we share best practice across each administration," he said. 

Asked by RTÉ News if plans to end the lockdown in Northern Ireland next week could undermine efforts to contain the virus in the South, he said he will continue to engage with the North's First and Deputy First Ministers "in relation to the situation on the island of Ireland and how Northern Ireland is dealing with the spread".

"Our respective chief medical officers continue the level of engagement, our clinicians and our health service continue that engagement," he said. 

"I generally - across all administrations - raised the point that we do need at some stage to identify the correct level of restrictions over a medium-term period that would be consistent with protecting lives and livelihoods and keeping sectors of the economy going," he said.

"And I think all of us share the challenge of the impact of Covid on the economy and on jobs and livelihoods. But right now, in this current phase of the virus, across Europe and within the administrations, to varying degrees we are all engaged in imposing significant levels of restriction on society to get the virus down." 

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Asked if the North would consider extending the lockdown until the start of December, Arlene Foster said the Executive would be taking a "balanced and proportionate view" when it next meets.

"There have been huge restrictions on people's lives," she said. "We have to move through this in a way that we bring everyone with us and we protect the National Health Service." 

She said the objective was to keep the R number below one but that "we also have to recognise that this virus is going to be with us for some considerable time and we need to have economic recovery alongside protecting our people and protecting the National Health Service".

The North's Deputy First Minister, Michelle O'Neill said it is very important that on the island "we are as aligned as we can be". 

She said: "We did go in to lockdown before anybody else, but I think we have to keep the situation under review and have to be as aligned as we possibly can be at the various stages of the virus." 

Ms O'Neill also said it was very unhelpful that there were different approaches to travel across the islands. 

The Council committed to further conversations on travel restrictions in the future.

The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, said: "We agreed to continue close co-operation across the islands and in particular to look at issues around travel within the common travel area, to ensure that when, hopefully in the not too distance future we emerge from a second wave of Covid, then we are all collectively taking care not to reseed the virus."