Haass says search for agreement will soon move to intensive negotiations phase
‘Hot house’ talks with referendum and visit to endorse agreement by US vice-president considered
Richard Haas, who returns to Belfast in two weeks to host another plenary session with the five parties in the Stormont Executive. Photograph: Peter Morrison
Talks on the search for progress on flags, parades and the legacy of the Troubles will soon move into a “negotiations phase” and the Irish and British governments will have specific roles to play, according to Dr Richard Haass who is chairing the talks.
Dr Richard Haass returns to Belfast in two weeks to host another plenary session with the five parties in the Stormont Executive. These will lead to more intensive negotiations when he returns again after December 7th, possibly leading to “hot house” talks aimed at securing agreement before Dr Haass’s December 31st deadline.
“I’m determined to make as much progress as we can before the end of the year,” he said. “In December, the interaction will reach a level of seriousness and focus and intensity and will require a degree of concentrated commitment of time that hasn’t been the case heretofore. That is consistent with the fact that again we will be transitioning from what has largely been a consultative process to what will be a negotiations process.”
Addressing a press conference in Belfast yesterday after the latest talks with the main Stormont parties, Dr Haass said he could not rule out seeking some form of public endorsement for any proposals up to and including a referendum.
It would be up to the Stormont parties to decide on the “most legitimate way of moving forward”.
Following talks this week in Dublin with the Taoiseach and Tánaiste as well as with Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers in London, Dr Haass said the two governments were “not outsiders” and had a particular role to play in dealing with the legacy of the Troubles. “The Government of Ireland has unique and important obligations and interests in the future of Northern Ireland,” he said.
He told The Irish Times: “The role of the both governments is not simply as outsiders. They are going to have to make decisions, the leadership in Northern Ireland is going to have to make decisions.”
He said the North had “the potential to be more of an example” to the world.