The Taoiseach Micheál Martin met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson today to discuss the Ukraine crisis.

The pair discussed the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the global security, economic and humanitarian consequences.

Mr Martin is in London for a series of engagements ahead of St Patrick's Day.

The Taoiseach and the Prime Minister welcomed the close collaboration between the EU, UK and other partners to hold Russia to account, to provide support to Ukraine and to address the humanitarian needs of its people.

The two agreed that in an uncertain world, the EU and the UK are key partners with shared values.

Micheál Martin and Boris Johnson at Twickenham Stadium
Micheál Martin and Boris Johnson at Twickenham Stadium in London

Earlier today, Mr Martin said he was not in the UK to tell Mr Johnson what to do in relation to Ukrainian refugees.

Asked if he would encourage Mr Johnson and the British government to take in more Ukrainian refugees, Mr Martin told reporters at the Embassy of Ireland in London: "Well to be fair I'm not here to tell Boris Johnson what to do.

"I have to acknowledge the leadership of the UK government in terms of the sanctions it has imposed on Russia.

"And also the support it has given to Ukraine and indeed to many of the eastern European countries of the European Union who value the support that they've received from the United Kingdom and who have said this."

The current visa route for people fleeing the war in Ukraine is restricted to family members of people settled in the UK.

A report in the British Daily Telegraph this week said the Common Travel Area meant Ukrainians who did not pass British security checks could reach the UK by travelling to Northern Ireland and getting a ferry to the UK.

Mr Martin and Mr Johnson also discussed political developments in Northern Ireland, looking ahead to the Assembly elections in May and the need for the two governments to work together to ensure a return of governance to Stormont.

The Taoiseach welcomed ongoing engagement between the EU and UK on issues relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol and highlighted the importance of reaching durable, practical solutions for people and business in Northern Ireland.

The Taoiseach said everyone he has met in Northern Ireland wants continued access to the EU single market.

His comments come after DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson said yesterday that he will not go back into the Stormont Executive until the matter of the Protocol is dealt with.

Mr Martin was asked what the Government's communication channels were like with the DUP and how likely it is that the issue of the Protocol will be resolved by the time of the elections.

Speaking to reporters at the Embassy of Ireland in London, Mr Martin said the Government has good channels of communication with all parties in Northern Ireland.

He said: "What's very interesting from our perspective though is that what's increasing and growing is a view within Northern Ireland, particularly in Northern Ireland business and industry, that the Protocol is working in terms of inward investment into Northern Ireland, and in terms of access to the EU single market.

"So anybody I've met in Northern Ireland all want to continue access to the EU single market. It's a good basic principle to start off on. And my view, given the improved relationship between the UK and the EU as a result of the partnership on Ukraine, I would like to think that in the fullness of time we will be able to resolve this issue," he said.

However, Mr Johnson told Mr Martin that "significant changes" are still needed with the Protocol.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: "The Prime Minister reiterated the need to make significant changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol in order to protect peace and stability in Northern Ireland and safeguard the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in all its dimensions.

"He said that while greater ambition and flexibility was needed from the EU in the negotiations, it was his hope that the same spirit of co-operation that had characterised the UK/EU relationship in respect of Ukraine could also be applied to resolving the issues with the Protocol," said the spokesperson.

For two years London - like so many other cities - has foregone its traditional St Patrick's Day celebrations due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The Taoiseach said that he wants to use the renewed St Patrick's Day celebrations in London this weekend to pay tribute to the thousands of Irish working in the UK's National Health Service during the Covid-19 crisis.

Mr Martin is meeting a range of Irish business and community leaders before he leads London's St Patrick's Day parade tomorrow.

This year's festivities will pay tribute to Irish Londoners who supported the city during the pandemic.

Additional reporting: PA