Published Friday, 20 September 2013
He was speaking after round-table discussions involving the Executive parties on Friday.
The talks, in Belfast, were the last of a busy first week for the former US envoy who has held around 30 meetings with about 100 different people including politicians, academics, religious and business leaders and civil servants since arriving in Northern Ireland.
"It has been a busy week by any means," he said. "There is real intent but mixed with that real concern and a real sense of urgency about where NI is and where it is heading.
"That said, I am glad to report we come away from this week with a strong sense of possibility about where we are and what can be accomplished."
Mr Haass was picked by the Executive to chair all-party talks on some of NI's most contentious issues including parading, flags and dealing with the past.
The parties agreed their round-table meeting had been constructive.
Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP said: "It was a very constructive discussion. There was engagement on the issues but we don't underestimate the challenges."
Gerry Kelly of Sinn Féin said: "This is not the only show in town - there is nothing stopping us talking in between the Richard Haass meetings. What I expect is us as political representatives to talk it out, we are in the Executive and meet eachother every day."
Naomi Long from the Alliance Party said: "There was certainly an appetite for us to engage."
Alex Attwood, SDLP, said: "If we go into 2014 with the shadow of doubt and a failure to resolve these issues that will sour politics into next year and impact how the year works out."
Tom Elliott of the UUP said: "The meeting was pretty routine. Clearly the public need to reduce their expectations because this isn't going to be an easy process - if it was easy to resolve it would have been done a long time ago."
Richard Haass and his team will return in late October.
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