Both the UK and the EU want a negotiated solution to issues over the Northern Ireland Protocol, but arriving at an agreed outcome will be difficult, the Taoiseach has said.

Speaking in Prague, Micheál Martin said space needed to be created to allow both sides reach a resolution.

He declined to comment on whether pausing the passage of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill through the UK parliament would help the progress of negotiations.

"My view that there's a genuine wish on all fronts to have or to prefer a negotiated resolution of all of these issues," he said.

"I do believe we need to create space for that to happen as well, and so I don't intend to comment at any further. That doesn't in any way understate the difficulties involved in arriving at a resolution, but I do think there's good faith on all sides."

Mr Martin also said that the Minister for Housing was in contact with the Attorney General on the issue of an eviction ban, which he said was under an "ongoing review".

"I know that the Minister for Housing has had discussions on that and keeps this under ongoing review with the Attorney General," he said.

However, Mr Martin said any consideration of a ban would have to be balanced with maintaining the supply of housing from private landlords.

"We are concerned about the numbers of landlords leaving the market but certainly we are going through a very significant energy crisis at the moment. Prices are very, very high and that does provide a context, so we will see how things evolve on that front, I can't say."

Asked whether first time buyers would be exempt from paying the levy on concrete blocks, Mr Martin said the final details of the scheme were still being worked out in consultation with the coalition parties.

He said: "On the concrete levy, again, the detail of that will be fleshed out in the context of the Finance Bill, and we are taking soundings from members of our parliamentary parties as well as generally.

"But I think as the Minister for Finance said, you know, the detail will be fleshed out in the Finance Bill, and we'll work through that."

'Window of opportunity' on protocol, says Tánaiste

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said a "window of opportunity" exists for the UK and the European Union to come to an agreement on the Northern Ireland Protocol in the next couple of weeks.

Mr Varadkar said: "That would be very beneficial for Ireland and Northern Ireland because it would allow us to get the Executive up and running, and could be helpful for Britain as well in economic terms."

He added: "I think we should not forget that the protocol is working.

"It was designed to prevent a hard border between north and south and there is no hard border between north and south. It was designed to protect the integrity of the single market and it has. Northern Ireland is outperforming the rest of the UK, economically."

Mr Varadkar said: "I would concede that perhaps the protocol, as it was originally designed, was a little too strict. The protocol is not being fully implemented and it is still working, and I think that it demonstrates there is some room for further flexibility, for some changes that would hopefully make it acceptable to all sides."

He welcomed Northern Ireland Minister Steve Baker's comments about his previous "ferocious" stance on Brexit but said it would remain to be seen if they would prove to be significant.

"It remains to be seen what the significance of them are, but they are very welcome comments and would agree with the Taoiseach on that," he added.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said he has agreed to work closely with UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on the Northern Ireland Protocol and Ukraine.

Mr Coveney tweeted a picture of himself with Mr Cleverly following a meeting in London.

He said: "My pleasure to host UK Foreign Secretary @JamesCleverly at the Irish Embassy London for a working dinner.

"James and I discussed Brexit, the protocol, the war in Ukraine as well as our shared work at the UN Security Council.

"We agreed to work closely together on all."