I propose to take Questions Nos. 32 and 36 together.
The Taoiseach, my cabinet colleagues and I take every opportunity to engage with EU partners and, as appropriate UK counterparts, to advance Ireland’s priorities in the context of the UK's withdrawal from the EU.
Over recent weeks, I have had contacts with UK Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis, including on matters arising from the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. I have stressed the importance of ensuring the full implementation of the Protocol, as agreed, and continue to emphasise the importance of the protection of the Good Friday Agreement and the gains of the peace process in the operationalisation of these arrangements.
Implementing the Protocol fully, in a way that meets all the obligations to which the UK has committed, will provide the clarity and stability which are vital for businesses and people in Northern Ireland - and ultimately for the sustainability of these arrangements which have been designed to safeguard the Good Friday Agreement and the gains of the Peace Process.
Implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland is an essential part of ongoing EU-UK contacts. The first meeting of the EU-UK Specialised Committee on the Protocol took place on 30 April, and Ireland participated as part of the EU delegation. The Protocol will also be a matter for discussion in the upcoming meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee on 12 June.
The paper published by the UK Government on 20 May, setting out its approach to implementing the Protocol, is an important step. The European Commission has also set out clearly and in detail what needs to be addressed for implementation of the Protocol, in its Technical Note of 30 April. What is imperative now is to see early and detailed work to ensure that the Protocol is fully operational by the end of transition.