Time for Haass deal is now - McGuinness

Published Friday, 07 February 2014
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Martin McGuinness has said it is time for political unionism to reveal whether it wants to do a deal on the Haass plans or not.

Time for Haass deal is now - McGuinness
Martin McGuinness was addressing party members in Wexford. (© Pacemaker)

The deputy First Minister was addressing the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in Co Wexford on Friday.

Mr McGuinness said his party was not prepared to wait until after the May elections for a decision from unionists about the plans on flags, parades and dealing with the past.

"The Haass proposals as they currently stand represent a huge missed opportunity, if they are not accepted by all the parties," he told Sinn Féin members.

"Two months on from the proposals were published, one big question remains unanswered, and it is fundamental to moving forward. Is political unionism up for doing a deal or not?

The time has come for unionist politicians to stop dancing to the tune of the Orange Order and their extremists.

Martin McGuinness

"Time is short to conclude this process. We stand ready to move forward on the basis set out in Haass. But we will not be entering into a renegotiation, or a dead end process aimed at kicking these issues beyond the May elections.The time for agreement is not after the May election nor after the marching season - the time for agreement is now".

The US team of Dr Haass and Professor Meghan O'Sullivan were brought in in September 2013 by the NI Executive parties to attempt to resolve contentious issues, but after seven draft proposals an agreement was not reached by the end-of-year deadline.

Since then the plans have been discussed by the Executive.

Mr McGuinness, in his speech on Friday, went on add that the actions of dissident republican paramilitaries has only set back the establishment of a united Ireland.

He said: "Militarist actions by a few small groups will only set back the progress being made towards a united Ireland. They should stop their activities immediately.

"The growing public expression among some anti peace process republicans against armed actions is to be welcomed.

"I have been strongly of the opinion that political leaders must engage in dialogue with everyone, including those in groups involved in violence. Indeed, in recent times, I have met with anti peace process elements, both republican and loyalist, to argue for an end to their activity.

"I restate our willingness to engage with these groups and without pre conditions."

© UTV News
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10 Comments
pip in belfast wrote (258 days ago):
martin and all in sf want the plans to go ahead because as usual they will get a lot out of it and the unionist community gives more concessions while getting nothing in return when will they realize give and take is required in this country for there to be any real chance of peace !
Ricky in East Belfast wrote (259 days ago):
The haass deal offers nothing to the Protestant community one sided like always thats why sinn fein are so for the deal
David in Belfast wrote (259 days ago):
Well Martin I have to say I like many Unionists I think Hass offers us nil zero nadda!
Sam1690 in Ballysillan wrote (260 days ago):
Sinn Fein are looking over their shoulders at groups like RNU who have announced that they will field candidates in May, that's why Sinn Fein want a rushed deal steamrollered through, they are worried that after May their mandate will be reduced. If they aren't repaired to wait till May, what are they threatening to do? I'm afraid that they'll have to learn that in a democratic country they'll just have to wait for the consensus of the majority.
Larry in Belfast wrote (260 days ago):
What are Sinn Fein compromising on that the Unionist community does not already have? Are unionist being 'allowed' to do what has been their 'right' for many years. Hatred and bigotry does not change settled history. It is no longer about religion or politics in this country, it is a power struggle of bigotry. It is also time we came into the 21st century in our 'minds', and many protestants, of which I am one, stopped marching up and down beating drums to commemorate the defence of a religion which the vast majority have forsaken. If you want to defend your faith, get back to your churches and worship God in Spirit and in truth. That also means 'loving one another'.
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