Ireland has been assured by the Netherlands there is no basis to reports that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte would intervene in the Northern Ireland Protocol dispute at the bidding of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, according to the Minister for European Affairs Thomas Byrne.

Yesterday in New York, Mr Johnson claimed that Mr Rutte had offered to "mediate" between Britain and the European Union during a meeting in Downing Street last week.

Dutch officials have reportedly denied such an offer was made.

Speaking in Brussels, Mr Byrne said: "We have been assured by our Dutch colleagues that those reports that he would intervene between Britain and the European Union are not correct at all."

He added: "My understanding is that Mark Rutte went to Britain with the message of the European Union, that we're acting together, and that Boris Johnson needed to resolve these issues with the European Union."

Earlier the European Commission vice-president Maroš Šefcovic briefed European and foreign affairs ministers on his recent visit to Northern Ireland.

Mr Byrne said: "He met people on the ground and he recognises that there are problems in the operation of Protocol.

"But [he is] very much, along with all the member states, in solutions mode."

Mr Šefcovic will bring forward new EU legislation within the coming days which, diplomats have said, will address the problems surrounding the importation and licensing of medicines moving from Britain to Northern Ireland.

He will also introduce new proposals on customs formalities, agri-food checks and an enhanced role for the Northern Ireland institutions.

Mr Byrne said the objective was to work out how to "make the most out of" the Protocol and to make it work as effectively as possible.

"We will help businesses in Northern Ireland reap the benefits of the Protocol which involves being in the single market at the same time being in the [internal market of] Great Britain as well," he said.

The minister said member states were not contemplating any move by the UK to trigger Article 16 of the Protocol.

"There's certainly no discussion around the table of the Council of Ministers about contingencies in relation to Article 16. Nobody wants to contemplate Article 16 because, first of all, that would be a disaster for Northern Ireland.

"It would be completely self-defeating. I think people want to focus on our solutions to the problems."