Taoiseach Micheál Martin flew to Prague today for a summit on how Europe is keeping warm this winter.
He stressed on arrival that energy and the cost of living are key to Ireland.
Leaders from 44 countries will brainstorm ideas focusing on energy security, supply and price in the capital of the Czech Republic.
The Taoiseach will increase the potential for Ireland to deliver renewable wind energy further afield, with the benefits this has for future energy security and climate change mitigation.
He is also pushing for deeper European coordination, such as through power interconnectors to France and Wales.
Mr Martin may meet British Prime Minister Liz Truss on the fringes of the European Political Community, a new forum inspired by French President Emmanuel Macron.
But he indicated he would not be pushing them on the Northern Ireland Protocol just yet.
Arriving in Birmingham politically hurt by recent events and an openly divided Tory conference, Ms Truss needed international attention to brush up on her tarnished image.
“I met her three weeks ago for a substantive meeting. The Prime Minister then met with the Chair of the Commission (Ursula von der Leyen),” the Taoiseach said.
“To my knowledge, some technical interactions take place at this level.
“I think there is a real desire on all fronts to negotiate a solution to all these issues.
“But I think we have to create space for that.
“That in no way underestimates the difficulties involved in finding a solution, but I think there’s good faith.”
Asked whether the UK should, in good faith, halt the progress of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill through the House of Lords, Mr Martin said: “In situations like this, having daily commentary on every process can be problematic to say the least.”
He added: “In my opinion it certainly wouldn’t be helpful to embark on such an approach at this point. But there is a window of opportunity. I think we should create space for people to train.”
The Taoiseach told the Dáil this week Ms Truss “strongly believes” that if there is no solution to the impasse in Stormont, new elections must be held in Northern Ireland.
Conservative figures have been making reassuring noises in recent days and enraged the DUP – which still refuses to re-enter devolved government until protocol is “scrapped”, as former leader Edwin Poots puts it.
But Mr Martin’s position is that the verdict of the people in May’s election – which made Sinn Féin the largest party for the first time – has yet to be confirmed, and that should be done through a return of the Assembly and Executive.
“The Taoiseach will have between three and four arranged bilateral talks with other leaders,” his spokesman said of the summit today, without confirming names.
However, the plotted engagements are believed to be with leaders of similarly sized countries in Eastern Europe such as Albania and Moldova.
He is known to be eager for exchanges with French President Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, another key European ally, at an informal EU summit in the same city tomorrow.
Both hail from Brexit border countries with trade problems similar to Ireland’s, although not as badly affected.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and EU Council President Charles Michel will host today’s first meeting of the European Political Community, which will bring together 44 Heads of State and Government from across Europe.
President of Ukraine Volodomyr Zelenskyy will dial in via video conference, and contributions will also be heard from British Prime Minister Truss, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Store and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.
All talks will be held in the context of solidarity with Ukraine, although the Taoiseach will not attend a Peace & Security meeting to discuss ways to improve security and stability in Europe.
The countries present will pledge to work together to end the war in Ukraine and “enforce” a return to the rules-based multilateral order.
Mr. Martin arrived at the Castle’s Giants Gate where he was led down a red carpet to a plenary session with his colleagues in the Spanish Hall.
According to a later family photo of executives, he will hold his series of bilaterals, followed by a working lunch.
In addition to the EU-27, the new forum includes Great Britain, Turkey, Serbia, Switzerland, Norway, Ukraine and others.
Topics such as securing the energy supply, coping with rising costs and long-term conversion to renewable energies will be discussed.
The Taoiseach will outline what Ireland is doing to support the people through measures such as energy credits, fuel supplements and changes to energy taxes, as well as support for potential windfall taxes on energy companies.
He will highlight the potential of renewable wind energy for Ireland and the benefits this has for future energy security and climate change mitigation.
He will speak on energy, climate and the economy alongside the Greek Prime Minister, the President of Switzerland and the heads of state and government of Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy, Norway, Serbia and Liechtenstein.
https://www.independent.ie/news/taoiseach-flies-in-to-prague-for-summit-on-how-europe-keeps-warm-this-winter-42045471.html Taoiseach Micheál Martin flies to Prague to find out how Europe is keeping warm this winter