Peace rally held in Belfast

Published Sunday, 19 January 2014
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A peace rally has been held outside Belfast City Hall by a group calling for Stormont's politicians to find a way forward following the failure of the Haass talks.

Peace rally held in Belfast
Zoe Johnston with her friend Ellie Johnston and her sister Leah from Ballyclare. (© Presseye)

Dr Richard Haass and Professor Meghan O'Sullivan were brought in last year by the region's leaders in an attempt to resolve issues surrounding flags, parades and how to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

However, on New Year's Eve, after seven draft proposals an agreement was not reached.

A former US envoy to the region, Dr Haass, told UTV earlier this month that he believed there is a lot in it for Northern Ireland.

Sunday's event was organised by Wake up Belfast, who are linked to the network Mindfulness Ireland.

Mike McEvoy, of Wake Up Belfast, told UTV that the event was a gesture to encourage the development of the peace process and "to encourage our representatives to come together to compromise."

He said the Wake Up movement was borne out of Plum Village, a Buddhist community in the south-west of France, which was set up by one of the world's most influential spiritual leaders, Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh.

The 85-year-old visited Stormont in 2012, urging politicians to connect with their spiritual side in order to achieve reconciliation.

Mr McEvoy said that the group is open to people of all ages, of faith or no faith.

"We are calling for peace, we're calling for compromise, the practise of loving speech, deep listening to progress peaceful society."

One man said that he had attended the event as part of a "silent dignified protest."

He added that he wanted to show that there's a lot of disenchantment with the political leaders and the lack of progress made at the Haass talks.

Another said: "I just feel like we're at stalemate."

Adding that he was sick of it, he continued: "It's very hard to get your voice heard here so if you come down and make some noise with like-minded people, it's better than nothing."

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The gathering met for around 30 minutes and finished off with banging kitchen utensils.
© UTV News
Comments Comments
21 Comments
liam in armagh wrote (93 days ago):
republicians are holding SF back from the talks moving foreword because they are their biggest voters, and the DUP are being held back by the UVF/OO as they too are their biggest voters. simple when you take look at it.so how about banning the two parties
WTF in Ards wrote (94 days ago):
@ J in Belfast. The most sensible comment on this forum for weeks. Well said. As with all talks in NI it appears that it's always Unionists who have to give.
Iain in Belfast wrote (94 days ago):
Well it certainly didn't take long for this story to be high-jacked by the finger pointers. As always its the other side who are at fault. About time some of you grow up. Yes, a majority want to move on but as some comments have shown, only on certain terms. Get back in your cave if you're not prepared to enter a democratic 21st century.
fra in belfast wrote (94 days ago):
People have more important issues in there lifes without mps acting maggots
J in Northern Ireland wrote (94 days ago):
@ Joe: Everyone wants to agree on a way forward. No one wants to go back. SF and the SDLP went into the talks to safe guard Nationalist & republican interests and the Unionists went into it to safeguard Pro-Unionist interests. There was 7 sets of proposals drafted and SF/SDLP refused a number of these proposals until they got what they wanted. For them it was not agreement at all costs! The Unionists didn't get what they wanted out of it. I have looked at the proposals and I can't see a single thing that would be in it for Unionists so why should they agree to it? SF/SDLP didn't agree until they got what they wanted. As for your assumption that the "Majority" want the agreement in it's current draft..You are wrong! Did you not see the result of the DEMOCRATIC VOTE at Stormont? It was in favour of not implementing the HAASS proposals as it stands! Unionists have been United in their belief that the current proposals are not workable and need more work. They are willing to work at it for as long as it takes to get it right. SF/SDLP need to realise that they cannot hide form the reality which is that they need to get round the table and agree terms with Unionists! What is the problem with sitting round the table and continuing the discussions? Why wouldn't SF/SDLP not want to sit round a table and get an agreement? SF/SDLP are holding it up by refusing to more talks.
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BRIAN ROWAN
Twenty years ago there was something said but not really heard.
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