Northern Ireland's first and deputy first ministers, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, are attempting to get the five main political parties to resume negotiations that failed under the chairmanship of US diplomat Richard Haass. 

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said in Belfast this afternoon that he believes there is a chance that the discussions will be successful this time.

The discussions Dr Haass chaired last year were about three problem areas of the peace process - flags, parades and how to deal with the past. 

The talks broke up in failure at the end of last year because the five main parties could not find sufficient common ground to compromise.

Mr Gilmore has said there is an opportunity to revisit the issues, in the window between elections and the July high-point of the marching season.

He is in Belfast today meeting representatives of the five main parties. 

Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness have now asked all five parties to explore what might be possible. 

They are requesting the parties to nominate representatives to participate in what could be two three-day sessions of discussions over the next few weeks.

Mr Gilmore said this afternoon the Irish and British governments are at one on the desirability of progress. 

He said a successful outcome could necessitate legislative changes by the Dáil and Westminster on issues such as how to deal with the past. 

Mr Gilmore is due to step down as Tánaiste and Labour party leader early next month.

Northern Ireland has been one of his priority policy areas during his time in Government.