UUP rejects Haass plan as 'not viable'

Published Monday, 06 January 2014
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The Ulster Unionist Party has rejected Dr Haass' proposals on Northern Ireland's contentious issues as "not viable and therefore unacceptable".

UUP rejects Haass plan as 'not viable'
UUP leader Mike Nesbitt speaks to UTV after his party's meeting. (© UTV)

It follows a meeting of the UUP's 100-strong executive on Monday night to decide whether or not to back the proposals on flags, parades and dealing with the past which were put forward by the US talks team of Dr Richard Haass and Meghan O'Sullivan.

Northern Ireland's five main political parties failed to reach an agreement on the plans following marathon discussions on New Year's Eve.

A statement from the UUP said: "The Ulster Unionist Party seeks a positive resolution to the issues of parades, flags and dealing with the past.

"Consequently, this Executive believes the Haass report is not viable and therefore unacceptable.

The Executive further calls on First Minister and deputy First Minister to sort out the mess resulting from the process they initiated.

Ulster Unionist Party

"The Ulster Unionist Party will examine any measures that are brought forward by First Minister and deputy First Minister and report again to the Executive at its next scheduled meeting in February."

Earlier, deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin had claimed elements within "extreme loyalism" are setting the unionist agenda on Haass.

Mr McGuinness, whose party was the first to support Dr Haass' draft, said leadership now needs to be shown after expressing his concerns that "rejectionist elements" of the Orange Order and "extreme loyalism" are setting the agenda on the process.

He said: "Richard Haass has delivered his final text. This is the time we need political leadership.

"That means standing with the vast majority who want to see progress not with the rejectionist elements within the Orange Order who wish to see this process fail.

"It is clear that there are elements of the Orange Order and extreme loyalism who do not want to see progress, they do not want to see agreement and they are hostile to the idea of peace building and a shared future. Adopting a negotiating strategy which is driven by these negative elements is a huge mistake."

A spokesperson for the Orange Order said it had engaged fully with the process and is hopeful that a resolution can still be found on contentious issues.

He continued: "Rather than a shabby attempt to deflect attention away from his own murky past, Mr McGuinness would be better served to come forward and tell the truth, for the sake of all innocent victims and the justice they deserve, regarding the heinous crimes inflicted by republicans."

Dr Haass has now published a two-page factsheet outlining his main proposals.

He concludes that his draft agreement: "Would leave the people of NI considerably better off than they are today by tackling the difficult issues that continue to divide society."

Previously the DUP and Ulster Unionists have both indicated they had major difficulties with a number of proposals drawn up by the Haass team. Sinn Féin and the SDLP have endorsed the proposals, while the Alliance Party said it would support the proposal on the past.

The Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle will be meeting on 11 January.

© UTV News
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65 Comments
Mark in Belfast wrote (296 days ago):
Is this not the death knell for the UUP? I watched this speech with growing amazement as Nesbitt said several times that it was up to the DUP to sort out the problems in Northern Ireland, abdicating all responsibility along the way. If political leaders refuse to lead why do we need them? They were a sorry bunch; Mike at the front doing huge U-turns on his "80-90% there" statement from a few days before and the rest of the UUP team nodding like Churchill dogs behind him. Why would you vote for this bunch of "oooh yes" men and led by an "I can't fix this, ask Peter" leader? News anchors are used to being given a script and reading someone else's words but party leaders need to be able to think for themselves and argue for this position.
Ryan in An Dun wrote (298 days ago):
@sam in Ballysillian. You seem to know a lot about what Sinn Fein want and what they don't want. Why don't you ask yourself what does the UUP and other unionist parties want? This is simply a ploy by the unionist parties scrapping for votes. Who's going to be the winner because there are more unionist parties to split the unionist vote than there is on the Nationalist/Republican side. Never you mind crying and wingding about Sinn Fein and look at the parties YOU vote for. Because they are the parties holding this process to ransom. This story is about the UUP rejecting the Hass proposals. Why do you feel the need to try and put Sinn Fein down at every hurdle? I'll tell you shall I? It's the same as all the others, you have realised that the split in the unionist vote will mean a rise in the Republican and Nationalist slice of the pie. If everyone wants a piece those pieces are going to be smaller. It's called Fear.
Observer in Online wrote (298 days ago):
The Orange Order are not a terrorist group who spent 30 odd years bombing and murdering innocent people so get over yourselves, their opinion counts as much as anyone else does!
j w Hamilton in castlereagh wrote (298 days ago):
John h.castlereagh. nesbit is passing the buck he should measure twice cut once hes only ablow in no politics.
johnsie in A galaxy far far away wrote (298 days ago):
Why is it that the Northern Irish always have to look to foriegners for help solving problems that are Northern Irish? Mitchel Report, Anglo-Irish Agreement, Downing Street Declaration. Even the GFA was overseen by the Westminster, Dublin and Washington. There can be peace, but only if you lot get your act together and sort yourselves out. You're a mess. A good start would be if people from both sides would stop whinging every time they don't get their own way. Bunch of cry babies the lot of you. The real problems is, Northern Ireland has been living on hand-outs for too long. EU "peace" money, an oversized civil service paid for by the British taxpayer. How many other parts of the UK have a taxpayer funded organisation as big as the Housing Executive? The British taxpayers are tired of paying to clean up the mess every time the Loyalists or Republicans throw the rattle out of the pram. Seems to happen every summer because your delinquent children are badly brought up and think it's ok to smash their neighbourhood up because the working taxpayer will pay for it. The good folks in the Republic of Ireland probably don't want to deal with these things either and certainly wouldn't want to pay for it. Northern Ireland, sort it out!
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