The British government stopped short of pledging to take action on the Northern Ireland Protocol in the Queen's speech, which was delivered this morning.

However, the state opening of parliament heard that there are plans to change human rights legislation and to introduce a bill to deal with legacy issues in Northern Ireland.

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson had called for "decisive action" from the UK government on the protocol before his party would agree to re-enter the Stormont power-sharing executive.

The Queen's speech delivered by Prince Charles in his mother's absence did not announce any legislation to scrap the protocol.

There was simply a reference to prioritising support for the Good Friday Agreement, which is seen as calling for further concessions from the EU to encourage DUP participation in government.

Earlier, the Taoiseach urged the British Prime Minister to "avoid any unilateral action" over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

In a post on Twitter, Micheál Martin said he had spoken to Boris Johnson this morning and said they both agreed "on the need to see the NI Executive formed as soon as possible".

He said he stressed the need to intensify talks between the EU and the UK and "to avoid any unilateral action".

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In a statement, a Government spokesperson said the Taoiseach pointed out that "the EU has engaged constructively in the protocol discussions, addressing the issue of medicines, and last October putting forward a substantial package of flexibilities and mitigations, including on customs and SPS arrangements.

"The Taoiseach stressed to the prime minister that the way forward should be through continued engagement with a view to arriving at agreed EU-UK solutions that address the practical issues arising around implementation of the protocol."

The Queen's speech contained a commitment to "take all steps necessary" to protect Northern Ireland's place in the UK internal market and there was an emphasis placed on talks with the EU to find a resolution.

The post-Brexit trading arrangements have seen additional checks on goods arriving into Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

The speech acknowledged the stalemate at Stormont, adding the "protocol needs to change".

In the speech, the EU was urged to work with the UK "with new imagination and flexibility", to deliver that change.

The UK government pledged to continue to talk to the EU, but said it will "not let that stand in the way of protecting peace and stability in Northern Ireland".

It was pledged to "take the steps necessary to protect all dimensions of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and meet our obligations under the New Decade, New Approach Deal to protect Northern Ireland's place in the UK internal market".

The speech also referred to a new British bill of rights, which it is feared could alter the status of the European Convention on Human Rights, which underpins the Good Friday Agreement.

The speech also mentioned legislation to deal with the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, which appears to be watered down to include immunity from prosecution for only those who cooperate with a new commission.

During their phone call this morning, Mr Johnson told the Taoiseach that the situation surrounding the post-Brexit agreement on Northern Ireland is "now very serious".

Downing Street's account of the call read: "Following last week's Northern Ireland Assembly elections, they both agreed on the vital importance of restoring the devolved institutions, both the Assembly and Executive, as soon as possible. The Prime Minister said that the UK government would remain in close contact with the parties following initial engagement yesterday.

"The Prime Minister made clear that the situation in respect of the Northern Ireland Protocol was now very serious. The balance of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement was being undermined and the recent elections had further demonstrated that the Protocol was not sustainable in its current form.

"Despite repeated efforts by the UK government over many months to fix the Protocol, including those sections related to the movement of goods and governance, the European Commission had not taken the steps necessary to help address the economic and political disruption on the ground.

"The Prime Minister reiterated that the UK government would take action to protect peace and political stability in Northern Ireland if solutions could not be found."

Meanwhile, the Tánaiste has called for the "voice of Northern Ireland" to be reflected in ongoing negotiations surrounding the protocol.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Leo Varadkar urged parties in Northern Ireland to form an executive without delay.

He said: "I think what's really important though, is that we should have the voice of Northern Ireland in this process.

"We've had elections in Northern Ireland, but at the moment, the leaders there only have a mandate to speak for their parties, and no party won a majority of the votes in Northern Ireland, so what we need is an Executive."

He insisted that the Irish Government recognises the issues that unionists in Northern Ireland have in relation to the protocol.

Meanwhile, there was also a commitment in the Queen's speech to make further regulations around access to abortion in Northern Ireland.

Abortion laws in the North were liberalised in 2019 following legislation passed by Westminster at a time when the power-sharing government in the region had collapsed.

However, while individual health trusts have been offering services on an ad hoc basis, the Department of Health has yet to centrally commission the services.

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis previously announced his intention to act in the absence of movement at Stormont.

In the Queen's speech, the government said it intends to make further regulations to ensure that women and girls have access to safe, high-quality abortion care in Northern Ireland.

Additional reporting PA