'No role for US in NI talks' - Dodds

Published Thursday, 28 August 2014
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The DUP has ruled out any role for the US in fresh Northern Ireland talks.

It comes as former US senator Gary Hart held meetings with the region's five main political parties to establish the extent of the problems at Stormont.

Mr Hart, who twice unsuccessfully attempted to become President of the United States, was tasked by US Secretary of State John Kerry to take part in a fact-finding mission to NI, which has involved talks with the DUP, Sinn Féin, Ulster Unionists, SDLP and Alliance Party on Thursday.

However there appears to be disagreement over the role the US should have in Northern Ireland affairs going forward, with the DUP's Nigel Dodds insisting issues must be sorted out internally.

He said: "I think it's always useful to brief the US administration, they will continue to take a keen interest as we continue to have strong links, but I think in political terms I don't see any role."

I think going forward it has got to be internal to Northern Ireland.

Nigel Dodds

However the Sinn Féin deputy First Minister said his party is keen to see further US involvement.

Martin McGuinness continued: "It remains our view that we can find a resolution to all the difficulties facing the political process through genuine engagement by all parties and a hands-on proactive approach by the British and Irish governments in any negotiations.

"I made it clear that Sinn Féin welcomes continued US engagement in the political process as the US has played a positive role in the development of the Irish peace process."

The visit of Mr Hart comes a year after the beginning of all-party talks on flags, parades and dealing with the past which were chaired by former US envoy Dr Richard Haass.

Those negotiations ended without agreement on New Year's Eve.

A series of issues are currently affecting politics in Stormont including disagreement over welfare reform, with the five-party mandatory coalition unable to reach consensus.

In article in the Irish Times on Thursday, senior aide to ex-president Bill Clinton, Nancy Soderberg, accused parties of an "abysmal abdication of leadership" and being "far too stuck in the past".

I met with Senator Hart and briefed him on the current serious challenges facing the political process in the North.

Martin McGuinness

East Belfast MP Naomi Long of Alliance welcomed her party's meeting with Mr Hart but said there is much work still to be done.

She continued: "It is important that the American government retains an active interest in NI and that the British and Irish Governments continue to engage in the process going forward.

"But the onus is on us to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland - only through open and honest discussion will we find lasting solutions to deal with flags, parades and the past."

A statement from the UUP said: "The Ulster Unionist Party met today with former US Senator Gary Hart who confirmed that he is here at the request of Secretary of State Kerry.

"The Ulster Unionists outlined our position and thoughts on the way forward."

Alasdair McDonnell, SDLP, said: "I think we have been in a serious situation for some months, again I drew attention to that over the weeks and months and people thought I was being alarmist.

"I want to see good stable positive government here emerging from our devolution in the interest of all people and we have now reached a grid lock situation where there is very little emerging."

Gary Hart is also meeting with UK and Irish government representatives during his visit.

© UTV News
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32 Comments
lucylou in belfast wrote (19 days ago):
shamrock in Belfast------if you think investments and company funding from America doesn't benefit THEM then you're a fool . There's none of them investing anything here thinking they are not going to make money. It's a pity they sent so much cash through nor aid ie 'investing' in the murder and maiming of people here. Maybe if they hadn't been so keen to invest in that manner, who knows, things may have been sorted to everyone's satisfaction internally and a lot sooner. At the end of the day it has to be the people who live here along with the Irish and British governments who need to achieve a solution that can last.
Linda in NI wrote (20 days ago):
How can American politicians be seen as neutral here when they funded and supported sin fein/ira - a neutral country totally uninvolved in NI past should chair any talks on the future of this country
Michael in Templepatrick wrote (20 days ago):
Larry in Belfast - speaking of British citizenship... When are the British going to stop sticking their noses into other peoples business, for they too have left so many messes around the world. You and I live in one of them! That was nothing to do with America.
Larry in Belfast wrote (22 days ago):
When are America going to stop sticking their nose into other peoples business. They have left so many messes around the world, with the piles under the carpet like mountains, then when the going gets rough, they up and out leaving things to fester and deteriorate - look at Iraq, etc. Regional problems can only be solved by locals working together sensibly, not by being bullied into another agreement by outsiders who don't appreciate how deep our historic problems go. We are all Irish, some with British citizenship and others Irish citizenship, but nevertheless, ALL Irish. Let's live together, respecting each others beliefs in faith, tradition or whatever, 'rendering unto caesar the things that are caesars and to God the things that are Gods'.
Seamus in US wrote (23 days ago):
Well if there is no room for the US at the table maybe all the investments and all the jobs should return home. I am sure Nigel would see the logic in that!
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