Time for Haass deal is now - McGuinness

Time for Haass deal is now - McGuinness

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.

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."Martin McGuinness says he will stand foursquare for the peace process and the institutions. #SFAF14— Ken Reid (@KenReid_utv) February 7, 2014

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