95. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach when he last spoke to Prime Minister May; if the framework for the future relationship was discussed; and if she spoke regarding the backstop outlined in the December 2017 agreement and the way in which she referenced same in her speech in the Mansion House, London recently. (Question 19622/18 asked on 08 May 2018)

The Taoiseach: I had a short meeting with Prime Minister May in the margins of the European Council on 23 March during which we discussed the latest developments in relation to Brexit, Northern Ireland and Russia.

On Brexit, I welcomed her government’s commitment to ensuring the backstop forms part of the Withdrawal Agreement, and looked forward to progress on this and on the other options before the European Council in June. I also conveyed to her my outrage at the attack in Salisbury.

This was my fifth bilateral meeting with her in recent months. I had previously met her in Belfast on 12 February where we assessed the state of play in the negotiations to restore the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly and encouraged the parties to reach an agreement so that functioning institutions can commence work again in the interests of the people of Northern Ireland.

Between these two bilateral meetings, I spoke by phone with PM May on Monday 19 February to review the latest developments in Northern Ireland and again on Monday 26 February when we discussed Brexit and the draft Withdrawal Agreement in particular, in addition to matters relating to Northern Ireland.

There is also regular ongoing contact between my Department and the British Government at official level about Brexit and the situation in Northern Ireland.