TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has met with party leaders in Belfast today as tensions resurfaced over the British government’s plans to act unilaterally over the NI Protocol.
As the Taoiseach met separately with the North’s First Minister elect, Michelle O’Neill, and the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney warned his UK counterpart Liz Truss about her government’s breaching of international law.

He said the the UK needs to "get back to talks with the EU".

In Washington, the House of Representative Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Britain that there would be no US-UK trade deal if it proceeds with plans to scrap the new post-Brexit trade rules between Britain and the North of Ireland.
"If the United Kingdom chooses to undermine the Good Friday accords, the Congress cannot and will not support a bilateral free trade agreement,” she said in a statement.
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson, whose party is refusing to form a power-sharing executive at Stormont in protest over the Protocol, slammed the comments as “entirely unhelpful”.
In Belfast the Taoiseach said that the DUP cannot be allowed to block a new Assembly, after this month’s election which saw Sinn Féin returned as the largest party with the DUP relegated to second place.

“We have a situation where one party determines that the other parties can’t convene in parliament,” he said.
Following her meeting with Mr Martin, Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill travelled to Edinburgh where she met with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Ms O’Neill said that she was delighted to visit Scotland to meet the First Minister to discuss a number of shared priorities and to update her on political developments at Stormont. 
“This included the cost-of-living crisis which is bearing down hard on workers and families, and the need for action by our administrations,” she said.
“We also discussed the need to ensure the Government in London protect people struggling with soaring costs where we don’t have the powers to act.
“I updated the First Minister on our recent elections, and the overwhelming demand from the electorate who have given the parties a mandate to get the Assembly and Executive up and running without further delay. 
“The public want us to unlock the £420 million sitting in the Executive’s bank account to support households, and to agree a budget which will invest an extra £1 billion in our health service.”  

Michelle O’Neill added that both Scotland and Ireland held membership of the EEC and EU from 1973.  
“We enjoyed the enormous benefits of our membership until the north of Ireland and Scotland were dragged out of the EU as a result of the Tory Brexit without our consent, and against the democratically expressed wishes of our people,” she continued.
“Six years on from the referendum the implications are being felt acutely. I had the opportunity to update the First Minister on the Protocol which gives us unique access to the EU single market and the world’s biggest trading bloc and how this is yielding benefits for business and our local economy.”
Michelle O’Neill noted that the historic bonds between Scotland and Ireland go back centuries. 
“We enjoy a long and enduring affinity, as close neighbours and good friends. 
“Moving forward I am determined to strengthen the bond that ties us – politically, culturally and economically - so that our administrations can work together in our shared interests through strong intergovernmental relations.”
Following the meeting, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon added: “Today’s meeting was an excellent opportunity to discuss some of the shared challenges Scotland and Northern Ireland face and I thank Michelle for reaching out and enabling us to discuss these extremely important issues in person.

Ms Sturgeon described the meeting as “a particularly timely conversation” which provided an update on the ongoing developments around establishing the Assembly and Executive following the elections earlier this month."