The Taoiseach has said there is a need to dial down the rhetoric and tensions over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Micheál Martin said there needs to be a more constructive way to look at the issue and deal with the implications of Brexit.

"There is elements that the British government could sort out, but likewise on the European side, I would say some member states need to cool it as well," he said.

"I think we need to dial down the rhetoric on both sides here."

British Cabinet Minister Michael Gove and European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic discussed the issue during talks in London today.

Mr Gove told MPs ahead of the meeting with Mr Sefcovic that the UK is seeking to ensure "light touch" border processes for trade with Northern Ireland.

"Those processes should be as light touch as possible and that's the aim of the conversations that I'm having with Vice President Sefcovic," Mr Gove said.

Mr Sefcovic yesterday accused the UK of failing to implement a range of obligations under the Northern Ireland Protocol, and said that sweeping changes to the protocol will not be possible.

European Union officials and member states have been hardening their position on what flexibilities they are prepared to grant the UK in implementing the protocol.

There is a growing view that the UK has attempted to exploit the controversy over the commission's move to trigger Article 16 of the Protocol on 29 January in order to force changes to the protocol.


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Mr Martin said the EU's dispute with Astrazeneca over vaccine supply was unnecessary and "the manifestation of Brexit has brought challenges to everyone".

He said the row broke out only five or six weeks into the Brexit deal and "there are bound to be issues and teething problems and certain people were not as prepared as they could have been ... we all need to cool it down".

He said that ultimately there needs to be calm so that the UK can align well with the EU and that the EU should seek to harmonise relations with the UK.

He said he "hears what unionism is saying, but they need to look at this issue in a more constructive way". 

Mr Martin said the Government is negotiating with the European Commission to try and fine tune the protocol.

He said tensions got too high and were rising unnecessarily in relation to policing and said that politicians of all persuasions need to calm the rhetoric and work to make things work for the people on the ground.