The Taoiseach has said the European Union has shown great flexibility in relation to the Northern Ireland Protocol, but this "has not been reciprocated".

Micheál Martin said this has "made the EU more cautious" in relation to its negotiations with the British government.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Martin said no one in Northern Ireland had indicated to him that they want to cease access to the single market, and it was widely accepted that this access is of benefit to agriculture and the economy in the North.

He said he would like to think the British government would approach the issue with a determination and commitment "to get it resolved sensibly", adding that the Irish Government would play its part in facilitating this.

A lot of progress has already been made in relation to a number of issues, he said, including the issue of medicines.

Mr Martin said he believes it will be possible to reach a compromise that will be acceptable to the DUP, but it remains to be seen if the DUP would be politically ready to accept this.

"The politics of this is more problematic than resolving the actual trading issues around the protocol," he said.

The Taoiseach also said the DUP was wrong to place conditions on power-sharing, and he believes all parties will lose out if they do not react to the bread-and-butter issues raised by people on the doorstep.

"My view is that the parties should meet and form an Executive," he said, and that discussions between the UK and EU should "take up a greater intensity".

Mr Martin said it looks highly unlikely that the DUP will nominate a deputy first minister this week.

He said the centre ground emerging in Northern Ireland shows less tolerance for a withdrawal approach to politics, and parties must weigh this factor up.

"Essentially, the real lessons from this election are that people want their public representatives to fulfill their mandate to take their seats and to make the Executive work for the people of Northern Ireland," Mr Martin said.


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Mr Martin also said he is "amused" at the speculation that Sinn Féin's victory will prompt further debate about a border poll and a united Ireland.

He said it was not the "dominant" issue of the campaign.

While stressing his own support for Irish unity, he said: "That was not the mandate sought by Sinn Féin in the last three weeks.

"The whole campaign was on cost of living, on health and on housing.

"The border poll was nearly buried from its documentation and its manifesto and, (as) soon as the votes are counted, it is brought back into centre stage."

Alliance leader Naomi Long has said the British government is not "playing an open hand with the people of Northern Ireland" over the protocol.

She said: "What is threatening the Good Friday Agreement is the British government not playing an open hand with the people of Northern Ireland, using and abusing the protocol as an issue to try to garner support for their own cause," she said.

"I think it's time for the UK government to resume its role as an honest broker in this process, to be open and honest with the people of Northern Ireland, with the political parties about what is possible and what is not.

"Ultimately this is Boris Johnson's baby, the protocol was birthed on his watch. There is no point in telling us now it's a disaster, it's up to him to provide solutions, and those solutions have to be agreed with the European Union because that is the only thing that will bring certainty and clarity that business needs.

"I have been talking to business throughout this campaign and before, and they are very clear the biggest threat to business and prosperity in Northern Ireland is political instability.

"We've got to get this sorted once and for all with the EU, mutually agreed, and let's get government going."

Additional reporting PA