'Silly things' still in Haass draft

Published Thursday, 19 December 2013
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DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has said there are still some "silly things" in the new draft of the Haass proposals sent out to Executive parties, but that progress has been made.

Former US Envoy Dr Richard Haass, who has been tasked with chairing talks on flags, parades and dealing with the past, spent most of Wednesday re-drafting the document.

It comes after his initial blueprint received a mixed response from politicians.

The new version was sent by email to Stormont's five Executive parties on Thursday, with Dr Haass remaining confident an agreement can be reached by the end of the week.

Reacting to the new version, Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP Lagan Valley MP said there was still more work to do.

"We're still taking time to go through the detail of the revised draft document, and I would emphasise it remains at this stage a draft document, we've made some progress in some areas," he said.

"I have to say there are still a few silly things in there that really do need to be taken out and there are still areas which further progress is required. We are prepared to work on for as long as it takes to resolve these issues."

While Sinn Féin's Caral Ni Chuilin has criticised the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers' comments on Wednesday that the British Government was not prepared to pick up the bill for dealing with the past.

Speaking in Dublin during a meeting with Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, Ms Villiers said it would be for the Northern Ireland Executive to fund Dr Haass' proposals.

She said the block grant given to Northern Ireland from the UK government to fund public services was already "very substantial".

Ms Ni Chuilin said: "That intervention by Theresa Villiers is unhelpful. If for example, in dealing with the past, Theresa Villiers and the rest of the British Government will know that they will have to, not only provide the funding for it, but certainly provide legislation for it, so it's a bit of a naive comment coming from a British Secretary of State."

It is understood some of Haass' proposals included the creation of an all-encompassing investigative body to inquire into Troubles-related killings and granting of limited immunity to terrorists who co-operate with inquiries.

One of his more contentious draft recommendations is thought to be a proposal for the Irish Tricolour flag to fly on certain days alongside the Union flag at official buildings like Stormont.

The talks chair will meet the five main parties separately on Friday before all sides gather at the talks table sometime in the afternoon.

Political editor Ken Reid said the chances of concluding negotiations on Friday are remote but that the plenary sessions could allow the five parties to push their agendas.

He said: "There was an interesting line in Dr Haass' first email to the parties where he talked about the plenary being a way to plot a way to get what the parties all wanted by the end of the year. So I think we're in for a few more days of negotiations."

© UTV News
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16 Comments
desdodes in lower ormo wrote (117 days ago):
@ Lorna, I don't really normally agree with your politics or arguements on these subjects. But I have to say I agree with your proposals on the flag issue.
Dorothy in Kansas wrote (118 days ago):
Ulster in Ulster wrote: Would the usa take down there national flag ????? The USA sorted its flag problems in 1863, when Abraham Lincoln ensured the country would not be divided. It's just a pity that Ireland didn't manage the same thing in 1921.
Joe in Co Down wrote (118 days ago):
Maybe Jeffrey thinks its a silly little thing having to accept that there happens to be a community of the old Irish living in this Nth East part of the island of Ireland and that their traditions now at last have to be recognised.
lorna in limavady wrote (119 days ago):
I think Mr Haass has got the right idea. The politicians need to show some sense here. We are trying to build a better future. the past is proving an obstical people will need to be honest and truthful about the things they were responsible for. The past has to be addressed in such a manner that it does not blight the future.and it will have to be sorted out first.Should the Union flag fly every day I do not worry about if it does or not. The parades need to be addressed as a changed attitude to those who apposed to them now. giving we have had over thirty years of terror which can continue if hate controls our thoughts.The man in the street only worries about bread and butter issues so it is better to think how will Northern Ireland support itself and an identity belonging to the people here. free from the past. free from things that annoy those whose lives and future were distroyed by the terrorists.What about to Have a Union Jack on the corner of the Tri colour. or tri colour on the corner of the Union flag.
Paul Campbell in Newtownabbey wrote (119 days ago):
So Jeffrey Donaldson thinks there are some silly things in the Hass proposal Is there anyone sillier than than Jeffery and the DUP
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