McGuinness 'dictator' of Haass process

McGuinness 'dictator' of Haass process

First Minister Peter Robinson has criticised comments made by deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness regarding the Haass process, accusing him of speaking as a "dictator" on how it will operate.

The DUP leader was reacting to Mr McGuinness's remarks on BBC's The View on Thursday night in which he said unionist leaders had agreed with his analysis that the Orange Order, the UVF and PUP were acting as "one and the same thing".Mr McGuinness was explaining his motivation for saying in the wake of the Haass deadline that elements within "extreme loyalism" are setting the unionist agenda on Haass.He added that they have been "hostile to this process".Mr Robinson said his comments were "irrational and unhelpful" and would do nothing to take negotiations forward.He said the Sinn Féin MLA had shown a "visceral hatred of the Orange Institution" in the TV interview and explained that the DUP had deliberately invited Orange Order member Mervyn Gibson to be a part of the talks."I defy Martin McGuinness to deny that Mervyn Gibson's contribution was anything other than instructive and positive," he added.He said that it was "not a revelation" to say there was a link between the PUP and the UVF, or that there were Orange Order members also in unionist parties, but he stressed "the Orange Order takes its own counsel and decisions in the same way as any other organisation"."The Orange has not attempted in any way to impose its will on the process and has most recently issued an encouraging and positive statement expressing its willingness to be helpful."Mr Robinson said every party had to move to narrow differences and that Sinn Féin "will not dictate the rules of engagement".The Orange Order also issued a statement, saying the Sinn Féin minister's remarks were "entirely without substance"."The Orange Institution takes its own decisions, applies its own decisions and stands by its own decisions," a spokesperson said."We will continue to speak out and act for what we believe is in the best interests of the Protestant and pro-Union community in Northern Ireland."Reacting on Friday, Rev Mervyn Gibson said Mr McGuinness' claims were "simply a lie"."Martin McGuinness has been peddling this line for some time, he decided to embellish it last night by saying some unionist are also saying the same thing," he said."I'm disappointed because there's still a lot of work to be done. Parades certainly hasn't been resolved and the Orange Institution stands ready to continue to work to resolve the issue."I hope it doesn't spell the end of any process."The leaders of the Executive parties are expected to hold another meeting next Tuesday.Earlier this week MLAs at Stormont voted against a Sinn Féin motion accepting Dr Richard Haass' proposals on flags, parades and dealing with the past.The US team of Dr Haass and Professor Meghan O'Sullivan were brought in in September by the NI Executive parties to attempt to resolve contentious issues, but after seven draft proposals an agreement was not reached by the end-of-year deadline.


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