You should prime freshly plastered walls first, as they will absorb some of the first paint they come in contact with. White flat paint will work as well. After it dries, you will see uneven spots where it absorbed in some places more than others. Use a white primer first, then you can go over it with whatever color you like.
I'm not sure what "skirting" is, but I'm thinking maybe it-s wood wainscotting on the bottom half of the walls?
If you plan on painting over wood ( to some DIY'ers, that's a sin!)
you will need to sand it down some to get some of poly ( shine) off or it will not stick. Clean it REALLY well first with a product that has a grease cutting agent. Really, most good dish soaps will do the trick as they have grease cutter. Let dry completly, then use a 120 grit sand paper and take off as much as the shine so your paint will stick. Go with the grain of the wood or it will look bad once you apply the paint. After it's sanded, you can wipe if off with clean water, but water raises the grain in the wood, so wait overnight and run your hand over it to make sure it is smooth. THe 120 grit will make enough of an impression for the paint to bond properly. If I were you, I would use some of the primer on the woodwork before painting it as well. I don't know about the UK, but here in the good ole' USA you can buy a 2 gal bucket of primer for less than $20, and it will be money well spent. You can paint over paint without priming in most circumstances, but over wood or fresh plaster, I would definitely prime first.
Plaster walls rock! They look 1,000 times better than drywall ever will. THey hold the paint better and are more reflective. THey look "richer". It's like comparing a diamond to glass. They are completely different.
Hope this helps!!! Good luck on your project!!