The EU "blindsided" member states by attempting to impose controls on COVID-19 vaccines being exported to Northern Ireland, the Taoiseach has said.
The European Commission was forced to backtrack on the plan to bring in measures on doses crossing the Border after strong criticism.
There were calls from Unionists for restrictions on trade across the Irish Sea to be dropped, with Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster stating that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson must replace the Northern Ireland Protocol.
In an interview with Newstalk yesterday, Micheál Martin said the swift action taken by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen meant that restrictions on trade could be avoided.
Mr Martin said lessons have to be learned from the controversy, with Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol "never intended to be invoked in this manner".
Speaking today, he denied suggestions by the DUP that the EU plans were a "hostile act".
He told the BBC that work needs to be done to ensure the Northern Ireland Protocol operates smoothly.
On the EU-AstraZeneca row, Irish PM Micheal Martin says, "the Commission took the wrong mechanism in invoking Article 16 and the Protocol to deal with it"#Marr https://t.co/ctZYEiCih2 pic.twitter.com/iufoibpVdK
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) January 31, 2021
It was an an "acrimonious row" between AstraZeneca and the European Commission over contractual obligations related to supplying the vaccines which "took centre stage", he said.
He added: "People were blindsided by the decision that was taken and the implications for the Protocol."
The move “wasn’t in any way an act of hostility towards Northern Ireland but it seems to me people were blindsided in an exclusive focus on the row with AstraZeneca as to the negative implications for the operation of the protocol”, he said.
“It’s important for businesses and jobs in Northern Ireland that they have access to the single market – it’s of huge benefit to industry in Northern Ireland, to those involved in agricultural products and a wide range of SMEs.
“In my view, it would be a hugely retrograde step for Northern Ireland if the protocol was undermined in any way and that’s why we moved so quickly last evening to ensure no damage was done.”