Haass talks at 'critical juncture'

Published Sunday, 29 December 2013
Toggle font size

The American government has issued a statement saying that the Haass talks aimed at resolving issues surrounding flags, parades and the past in Northern Ireland have reached "a critical juncture."

US National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said on Sunday afternoon: "Talks led by independent chair Richard Haass with the five parties of the Northern Ireland Executive have reached a critical juncture.

"The goal has been and remains to reach agreement before the end of the year on new arrangements for parading, flags, and contending with the legacy of past violence," she said.

"Initiating these talks demonstrated the commitment of the parties and people of Northern Ireland to move forward on tough issues. We are confident that a solution can be reached if there is political will on all sides."

Ms Hayden said: "We call upon the leadership of the five parties to make the compromises necessary to conclude an agreement now, one that would help heal the divisions that continue to stand between the people of Northern Ireland and the future they deserve."

Dr Richard Haass, the former US envoy to Northern Ireland, and Professor Meghan O'Sullivan are chairing the talks. They arrived back in the province on Saturday morning, after leaving without a solution on Christmas Eve.

The SDLP's Alex Attwood told UTV on Sunday that the best part of this process has been how parties have shown new authority in dealing with the past.

"We cannot now, at the eleventh hour, see that begin to unravel so that there is less of an outcome - or no outcome at all - in terms of dealing with the past.

"That would let so many people down - that would let victims and survivors down and that is not conceivable."

He continued: "Everything is achievable because it's not a matter of how many hours are in a day."

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said: "Today is about saying 'These are the outstanding issues from our point of view.'

"There aren't too many. In fact, I would have to say that most of the document could be agreed probably by all five parties.

"But what remains are the real sticking points so it's not over the line by any means. But, there's still time and we felt we had a good meeting."

Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle added: "We've had six months of process, it's now time for a product.

"I think that the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland want to see leaders who are willing to show courage and compromise to agree long term solutions to these three difficult issues to allow us to get on with dealing with the wide range of social and economic challenges that we need to face in our community."

On Saturday, Dr Haass said that final agreement must be made by Monday.

A sixth draft of proposals will be presented to the parties ahead of the final session which is due to begin early on Monday morning.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
S.B. in Belfast wrote (111 days ago):
Richard Haass may be 'independent' but make no mistake about it he carries the US administration with him on this and they are becoming frustrated big time. The fact that the US has invested so much time and money in us should shake all of the parties to sort this out. People on ALL sides would live with an agreement that gives and takes as there cannot be outright demands and victory for anyone. We are all directly and indirectly involved in the politics of this place and no one is above blame. If the Haass process fails we will pay big time as the US turns it's back on us with good reason.
john in the heartland wrote (111 days ago):
why are these so called politicians given the right to negotiate on anyones behalf half of them are ex terrorists the rest affiliate themselves with paramilitary organisations sick of being screwed over by guys who know nothing of whats happening at ground level
Woodvale ron in Belfast wrote (111 days ago):
The pul community will not be bullied or railroaded again into an arrangment that only suits republicans if it dosnt suit then dont agree simple
Brian in Newry wrote (111 days ago):
Agreement on Haass? I'll believe when I see it. Unfortunately some people here still believe they are "more equal than others"!
Email address*:    
House Rules:  
Your Comment:  
[All comments are moderated and will not appear immediately. Your name, location and comment will be displayed on this page if your post passes moderation.]
Twenty years ago there was something said but not really heard.
Mon 31 March 2014
Fatal shooting in west Belfast
Sat 19 April 2014
Carrick disturbances
Fri 11 April 2014