The Taoiseach has welcomed comments made by prominent pro-Brexit minister Steve Baker in which he apologised for the negative effect his behaviour has had on relations with the EU and Ireland.
It comes as the European Commission has confirmed that talks between EU and UK officials on the Northern Ireland Protocol will resume this week.
Mr Baker, a Northern Ireland minister who was previously a strident Brexit supporter, has apologised for his former "ferocious" stance on negotiations with the EU.
He told the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham at the weekend that relations with Ireland were not "where they should be" and added that ministers needed to act with "humility" to restore relationships with the Republic and the EU.
Mr Baker, previously a member of the pro-Brexit European Research Group of MPs, told the conference: "The thing I want to add, as one of the people who perhaps acted with the most ferocious determination to get the UK out of the EU, I think we have to bring some humility to this situation.
"It is with humility that I want to accept and acknowledge that I and others did not always behave in a way which encouraged Ireland and the European Union to trust us, to accept that they have legitimate interests, legitimate interests that we are willing to respect.
"Because they do and we are willing to respect them, and I am sorry about that, because relations with Ireland are not where they should be and we all need to work extremely hard to improve that and I know that we are doing so."
A Northern Ireland minister who was previously a strident Brexit supporter has apologised for his former "ferocious" stance on negotiations with the EU | Read more: https://t.co/5nOpx8NimT pic.twitter.com/oB5AZBlYE7— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 2, 2022
Speaking at a Government Shared Island initiative today the Taoiseach Micheál Martin welcomed Mr Baker's words and the tone of this comments.
Mr Martin said that recent engagement between the Irish and British Government has led him to conclude that there is a genuine determination to try to resolve all of the issues around the protocol through negotiation.
But he cautioned that there is a lot of work to be done which will require detailed talking and getting that process underway is very important.
While Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald said Mr Baker's words must now be followed by the British Government withdrawing the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.
However, the Democratic Unionist Party reiterated its view that the Protocol itself should be scrapped.
Ian Paisley Jr MP said this should be the British Government's focus and not what he termed haphazard apologies.
Mr Baker added that the British government was determined to make progress on the Northern Ireland Protocol, which he criticised.
"It is not acceptable that Northern Ireland is so separate from Great Britain right now under the protocol, the protocol which at the moment is only partially implemented," he said.
"That combination of humility and resolve and that willingness to build up relations and say actually, yes, we do want to be Ireland's closest friends and partners, as we all respect all three strands of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement - that really is where we need to be," he added.
His boss, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris, said he had "learnt a lot in the last few years" about the intricate links between the UK and Ireland.
He gave the examples of the common travel area and common energy market between Northern Ireland and the Republic, telling the conference: "What we do independently in the United Kingdom, where we give £400 and other support to consumers of energy, actually can have some effect on the market in Ireland.
"I understand the complications. Maybe we could have understood them a bit better sooner."
The conciliatory tone from ministers came after Foreign Secretary James Cleverly held his first call with Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission vice president.
Mr Sefcovic described the call as a "good conversation", and said negotiating teams are due to meet soon amid a row over post-Brexit arrangements in Northern Ireland.