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Haass talks in Belfast end without agreement

Sinn Féin says that the proposals ‘did provide a basis for agreement’ while the DUP wants more time to consider areas of ‘profound disapproval’.

Dr Richard Haass with Megan O'Sullivan, leaves the Stormont hotel in Belfast
Dr Richard Haass with Megan O'Sullivan, leaves the Stormont hotel in Belfast
Image: Paul Faith/PA Wire

TALKS IN BELFAST aimed at reaching a cross-party consensus on a number of issues have ended without agreement.

Chairman of the talks Richard Haass will now return to the US later today after the negotiations which continued into this morning did not result in a cross-party deal.

In the early hours of this morning Haass presented his seventh draft of proposals aimed at providing a framework to work on the outstanding issues of  flags, parades and the past.

Sinn Féin says that the proposals “did provide a basis for agreement” but the DUP has said that it will need to consider the proposals further before making a decision.

A DUP statement issued this morning read:

The broad architecture across all three areas represents progress and contains much merit, however, as with any negotiated document, some of the language and detail is not what we would have chosen and in some instances we profoundly disapprove.

Stormont’s largest party will therefore engage in further consultations on the text of the proposals.

imageSinn Fein President Gerry Adams with party colleagues speaks to the media at the Stormont hotel in Belfast. (Pic: Paul Faith/PA Wire)

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said this morning that he will be recommending that his party’s Ard Comhairle accept the tabled proposals.

“The paper produced by Dr Haass does in the view of our negotiating team provide the basis for an agreement. Like every negotiation this document is a compromise position. We would like to have seen some aspects strengthened and improved further.

The SDLP says that it will be recommending a ‘general endorsement’ of the Haass proposals with party leader Alasdair McDonnel saying that “there are real strengths in Haass proposals but some areas still need to be tied down”.

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Government reaction

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has expressed disappointment that a deal could not be reached:

I know that many people will be disappointed when this news reaches them. This is not a step back but rather a step not yet taken. That step forward will have to be taken because it is right and necessary and because people across society are demanding it.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs also added that “dialogue is the only way to resolve difficult issues” and that the parties must continue their work.

Gilmore’s sentiments were echoed by the UK’s Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers who said that today’s conclusion should not be seen as the “end of the road”:

I welcome the suggestion by Dr Haass that the parties should now lose no time in getting together to see how they can most constructively take things forward. I would encourage them to maintain the momentum that their efforts, working with the Haass team, has created.
Haas himself tweeted this morning that he urges all parties to work together “to endorse text and move with dispatch to implement those initiatives (especially re past) where there is agreement”.

Read: ‘Today is the last day in Belfast. Hope leaders seize it’ – Haass urges progress as deadline looms >

Read: Negotiations to resume as Northern Ireland talks near deadline >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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