Adams says North's parties must ‘grasp opportunity’

Sinn Féin leader says ard chomhairle will meet to discuss outcome of Haass negotiations

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams with party colleagues speaks to the media at the Stormont hotel in Belfast, where all party talks chaired by Dr Richard Haass, failed to secure a deal. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams with party colleagues speaks to the media at the Stormont hotel in Belfast, where all party talks chaired by Dr Richard Haass, failed to secure a deal. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Thu, Jan 2, 2014, 09:12

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has called on the Irish and British governments and on all parties to the Haass talks to grasp “the opportunity that now exists to resolve outstanding issues”.

Dr Richard Haass has urged the public to engage in a “robust debate” on his rejected proposals on how to deal with the past, parades and flags.

Speaking from the US on Tuesday, Mr Haass said it was “premature to speak of failure” in relation to the Northern Ireland talks and suggested that the “spotlight be put on parties to approve and follow up” on the proposals that failed to achieve agreement on December 31st.

Dublin, London and Washington are also preparing to maintain pressure on the parties to endorse the Haass deal with Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore planning to meet party leaders in the North next week.

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.

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

The focus now falls on DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson to determine whether he will shift position and accept the proposals or a slightly amended version of them.

In a statement today, Mr Adams said Sinn Féin had “stretched” itself in the negotiations .

“The other parties should not fudge their response. They should be clear,” he said.

Mr Adams said the ard chomhairle of the party would meet on January 11th to discuss the Haass proposals and review the outcome of the talks process. The proposals would be recommended to the ard comhairle as a basis for agreement between all the parties.

“The issues of parades, flags and emblems and the legacy of the past are not going away. Significant progress was made during the Haass talks.

“There is an onus on the Irish and British governments and all of the parties to maintain the momentum that was created and to build on this progress,” Mr Adams said.

The Sinn Féin leader said the party would like to have seen some aspects of the proposed agreement strengthened and improved further.

“More work is required on parity of esteem, equality and respect for all cultures and identities. However agreement on everything was not possible.”

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