There was no shortage of advice for the Taoiseach in the Dáil this morning on how he should best approach his phone call with the British Prime Minister.

He was urged to dispense with diplomatic niceties and to call out Boris Johnson.

There was some criticism too about the length of time it took for this call to be scheduled.

The Sinn Féin leader said the Taoiseach should have picked up the phone on Monday. 

The Government had chosen to initially to convey their unease through diplomatic channels, while maintaining direct contact with the European Commission at all times.

Micheál Martin stressed today that he would not become embroiled in what he termed "political difficulties" in London but would make his points clearly and firmly.

Then sometime before 6pm, Micheál Martin and Boris Johnson spoke by phone.

Over the course of half an hour the Taoiseach set out his concerns in forthright terms.

This focused on what was happening in London, namely that is the breach of an international treaty.

He was critical too of the failure by the British side to give no prior notice to Dublin of their change of approach to the Withdrawal Agreement.

And there was an emphasis placed on the implications all this would have for Northern Ireland.

Crucially there is a belief in Government Buildings tonight that Micheál Martin was listened to attentively by the British Prime Minister.

This is fuelling some hopes that this firm but calm intervention will ultimately play a role in restoring a degree of equilibrium at this the most sensitive point in the EU-UK trade talks.

After all, the view has looked bleak from Dublin before, and progress has followed.

However, that's the sanguine view and not everyone in Government shares it right now.

Indeed, the Taoiseach said tonight that he's not optimistic about the chances of an EU-UK trade deal, but everyone should work to achieve it.

And that sounds like a particularly downbeat note, as the clock ticks down to 1 January.