Haass talks 'not failure' - Robinson

Published Wednesday, 01 January 2014
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First Minister Peter Robinson insists the Haass political negotiations which ended without agreement on New Year's Eve were not a "failure".

Haass talks 'not failure' - Robinson
First Minister Peter Robinson addresses the media during the Haass talks (© Presseye)

After marathon all-night talks ended, chairman Dr Richard Haass, a former US diplomat, said he had not managed to secure consensus with the region's five main political parties on a final set of proposals to deal with flags, parades and the legacy of the past before his end-of-year deadline.

DUP negotiators said they would consult within the party before making a final judgment on the proposals but indicated they had major difficulties with elements of the text.

However party leader Mr Robinson now says media reports of "talks failure" are inaccurate "given the wide gulf that existed on the Haass team's arrival and the broad areas of agreement on their departure".

"Yes, every party had, and expressed, concerns about features in the final product but I detect from each of the parties a willingness to "work on" to complete the task," he said in a statement.

"I think it is right that parties should first discuss the working report internally within their own structures while encouraging constructive debate more widely.

"We each must identify, not only areas where improvements are being sought, but also, how the problems identified by others can be accommodated in a way that does no injury to our own deeply held positions," he added.

We must not lose the momentum and we each should take care that areas of agreement are not allowed to unravel.

Peter Robinson, DUP

Mr Robinson said he supported the proposal by Dr Haass to create a working group made up of representatives of the DUP, Sinn Féin, UUP, SDLP and Alliance to move the process forward.

"I will recommend to my party colleagues that they support the suggestion made by Dr Haass that a "working group" be established to see how agreed elements can be taken forward while seeking to resolve areas where disagreement remains," Mr Robinson said.

Before leaving Northern Ireland on Tuesday, Dr Haass also denied the process had been a failure.

"Success should not be measured by what we report to you tonight or what the party leaders report tonight - I would ask you to judge the success in six months, in a year, 18 months, in two years, that would give a much more realistic definition or yardstick of what constitutes success," he said.

He urged Mr Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to make the details of the final document public so people could make up their own minds.

The draft, entitled 'An agreement among the parties of the Northern Ireland Executive on parades, select commemorations, and related protests; flags and emblems; and contending with the past', was released by the Stormont Executive on Tuesday evening.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has welcomed the publication of the final draft.

"I would urge all of those interested in building the peace process to take the time to read this document and the accompanying note from Richard Haass and Meghan O'Sullivan," he said.

"I would also appeal to all of the parties to the talks and to the two governments to embrace the Haass proposals as a significant step forward."

Dr Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and an envoy to Northern Ireland from 2001-2003, and talks vice-chairman Meghan O'Sullivan, a Harvard professor with experience in post-conflict Iraq, were asked in July by the Executive to submit recommendations for dealing with unresolved issues in Northern Ireland.

They said their role in any future political process would now be limited.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
18 Comments
Ger Brady in Cork wrote (107 days ago):
The DUP are a bit of a joke really. What does the DUP meaan - doesn't understand politics or desperate underhand people.
Eileen Roche in Ireland wrote (108 days ago):
Mr Robinson and Co are afraid of the loyalists and Orange Order, Jamie Bryson actually boasting about it, Also they are afraid of what might happen at the next elections, not about the country but about the vote count.
James Casserly in Omagh wrote (113 days ago):
Typical double talk from politicians. The talks concluded without agreement, therefore they were a failure. Our politicians are failures & a disgrace.
Boru in Ireland wrote (113 days ago):
Troubles only get worse when people stop talking, completely, to each other - as long as the parties continue to talk, to each other, there will always be hope; it would greatly help also if people stopped continuing to skirt the issues by continually referring to each other merely and solely as 'Catholic' or 'Protestant' - neither of which is required or could ever take place of NATIONALITY on a passport: one side is British - the other, Irish; each has its own flag, culture and tradition; one side is as oil - the other, as water; the two can be 'mixed' - but never truly so: that comparison aside, why must some insist (forever) that the other be as the partner in a forced marriage - is it wrong for two people(s) to be 'separate'?; if the Irish don't want to marry the British and the British don't want to marry the Irish - why should people kill each other about it??
Dave in ... wrote (113 days ago):
Haass talks 'not failure' - Robinson. No... Just a complete waste of time, effort, and money. Why were these talks not held at Stormont? Are the tax-payers once again getting ripped off by having to pay for the venue at the Stormont Hotel? UTV claim to be 'Your' TV. Isn't it about time you started asking our MLA's to justify themselves on our behalf? The man on the street, struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis, yet our 'supposed' leaders of this country, being 'penny wise and pound foolish' can spend cash willy nilly and look forward to their 11% payrise as well. Come on UTV, start doing something for the people of this place rather than concentrating on the negatives, being caused by a few bigoted cave dwellers that are hell bent of holding this back. Rant over.
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