'No role for US in NI talks' - Dodds

'No role for US in NI talks' - Dodds

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 DoddsHowever 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 McGuinnessEast 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.Gary Hart simply said no comment when I asked him about talks.— Ken Reid (@KenReid_utv) August 28, 2014

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