McGuinness steps up pressure over Haass

McGuinness steps up pressure over Haass

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness says Unionist leaders must tell the public if they back the outcome of the Haass talks.

On Friday the Deputy First Minister challenged the DUP and the Ulster Unionists to clarify where they stand on the draft agreement proposed by former US diplomat Richard Haass on how to solve disputes on flags, parades and dealing with the past.The negotiations involving Northern Ireland's five main political parties ended without a deal in the early hours of New Year's Eve.Sinn Féin and the SDLP have endorsed the Haass proposals, while the Alliance Party said it would support the proposal on the past.The DUP and Ulster Unionists both indicated they had major difficulties with a number of proposals drawn up by the Haass team.Peter Robinson and Mike Nesbitt said their respective parties will now discuss the document internally within their own structures.The implementation of the Haass proposals must be the key priority for the five Executive parties. The time for taking decisions is here.Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness"It is not unreasonable to ask both Unionist Party leaderships if they will be recommending acceptance of the Haass document to their party executives when and if they meet, rather than attempt to renegotiate the Haass proposals," Mr McGuinness said on Friday."People deserve to know the answers to these simple questions. We are elected to sort out these matters and seek resolutions."There is no ambiguity on where Sinn Féin stands. We have made it clear that despite reservations we were prepared to move forward and recommend acceptance," he added.Earlier this week, 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."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," the First Minister said.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.

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