Haass expected back promptly for further NI talks
Separate talks with main political parties likely before full round table negotiations
Dr Richard Haass and Harvard professor Meghan O’Sullivan after seven hours of intensive talks earlier this week involving Stormont’s five Executive parties. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire
He is expected back in Belfast on Saturday with Harvard professor Meghan O’Sullivan for another round of discussions.
Separate talks with representatives of the five main political parties are likely before full round table negotiations on a fresh set of proposals.
Attempts failed in the run-up to Christmas and Dr Haass and Dr O’Sullivan returned home, indicating they were prepared to come back to Belfast quickly if they thought there was a realistic chance of getting agreement on at least some of the issues.
It is believed a fifth draft will be presented to the parties on Saturday and they will have until New Year’s Eve to come up with a settlement.
All sides believe there is a possibility they can agree on the way forward on parades and the past, but the question of flags is almost certain to remain unresolved for the foreseeable future.
Dr Haass and Dr O’Sullivan were brought to Northern Ireland in July by First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness with an aim of finding consensus on the displaying of national flags, the holding of parades and how to come to terms with the violence of the past.