Sinn Féin to meet over proposed Haass deal

Thursday 02 January 2014 10.32
The issue of flags and parades remains highly contentious
The issue of flags and parades remains highly contentious

Sinn Féin is to meet later this month to consider a proposed deal to resolve outstanding controversial issues in the Northern Ireland peace process.

Talks chaired by former US diplomat Dr Richard Haass broke up on New Year's Eve without unanimous agreement.

He has urged members of the public to engage in a robust debate on his proposals on how to deal with contentious issues such as flags, parades and dealing with the past.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said: "Sinn Féin has stretched ourselves in these negotiations and we are up for this challenge. The other parties should not fudge their response. They should be clear.

"Failure to reach agreement on these crucial issues will constantly bedevil the political process and make it difficult to reach agreements on social and economic issues that are essential for improving the quality of life for everyone.

"I would urge all citizens interested in building the peace to take the time to read the Haass proposals."

Sinn Féin endorsed the proposals while the SDLP indicated it would also support them.

The Alliance Party complained about a lack of substantial progress on parades and flags but it also indicated it would accept what was on offer in a seventh and final text that Dr Haass and the talks' vice-chair, Prof Meghan O'Sullivan, presented on Tuesday morning.

Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt is to discuss the paper with the party's 120-member executive next week.

Democratic Unionist First Minister Peter Robinson said he did not recognise as accurate reports of "talks failure" given the wide gulf that existed on the Haass team's arrival and the broad areas of agreement on their departure.

The Sinn Féin executive will meet on 11 January to discuss the proposed deal.