Call for urgency over Haass talks return

Call for urgency over Haass talks return

Alliance leader David Ford has questioned the commitment from the First and deputy First Ministers over their determination to resolve the contentious issues around flags, parades and the past and says there needs to be more urgency.

The Alliance leader also said a refusal to discuss the past by both Mike Nesbitt and Peter Robinson was a "failure of leadership".Both Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson have pledged to hold two sessions of three day talks to resolve the outstanding issues which former US diplomat Richard Haass failed to reach a consensus on late last year.However, a date has yet to be set for these discussions.David Ford said: "It is now 12 days since Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness agreed to hold these all-party talks, and promised to deliver a paper on the details within 48 hours."Yet so far no details whatsoever on the arrangements for these meetings have been given to the parties.The reality is that, if the will is there, we can resolve these issues in these talks.David Ford"There are meant to be two periods of intensive talks before the start of July, but there has so far been a total lack of urgency coming from the First and deputy First Ministers."However, if it is taking nearly two weeks for Robinson and McGuinness to organise their diaries then it suggests the will is not there."I have a busy diary as Justice Minister. Other members of the Alliance team are equally busy. Yet we are committed to taking part whenever the talks are convened."DUP leader Peter Robinson has already expressed his reluctance to deal with the issue of the past until a report into the 'on-the-runs' controversy is published.Mr Ford added: "I am very concerned that Peter Robinson is already attempting to take issues off the table."This follows the earlier refusal of Mike Nesbitt to discuss the past because of the 'on-the-run' issue."This shows a total failure of leadership and commitment. Any agreement must include all three issues."Concerns about flags and parades are inextricably linked with our divided past. Anyone who suggests otherwise is misleading the people."Peter Robinson says new round of talks could start again as soon as this week.— Ken Reid (@KenReid_utv) June 16, 2014Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams also criticised Mr Robinson for failing to approach the latest talks in a positive manner.He said: "We have seen no evidence that the DUP is willing to approach this process in a positive, constructive way."The UUP and the DUP have failed to face down rejectionists in the same way as Sinn Féin has done with anti-Agreement elements on the fringes of republicanism."Let me be clear - Sinn Féin will continue to stretch out the hand of friendship to our unionist neighbours. We will uphold everyone's civil and religious rights.If parties do not wish to see these issues resolved then they ought to admit this to the public, rather than give false hope.Gerry Adams"But we will also stand firmly and robustly against the bigots, the racists and the sectarian fundamentalists."They and their political cheer leaders are on the wrong side of history."Change may be delayed but it cannot be stopped."Parties need to engage in these talks, and do so with a genuine intention of finding agreement. If politicians insist on playing games with these talks then they risk further damaging the public's trust in politics."


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