Obama urges Northern Irish leaders to continue negotiations

US president disappointed at failure of talks on flags, parades and issues of the past

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with US president Barack Obama at their meeting in the Oval Office yesterday. Photograph: Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with US president Barack Obama at their meeting in the Oval Office yesterday. Photograph: Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images

Fri, Mar 14, 2014, 22:23


President Barack Obama urged Northern Ireland’s leaders to continue negotiations to resolve issues around flags, parades and the past as he expressed disappointment at the failure of the all-party talks.

His comments follow similar strongly-worded concerns raised by vice-president Joe Biden about the collapse of the talks chaired by US foreign relations negotiator Richard Haass at an Irish-American event in Washington on Thursday night attended by First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Speaking next to Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Oval Office, Mr Obama said he and Mr Kenny shared an interest in seeing Northern Ireland “finally bring an end to what so often has been a tragic history”.

“I was disappointed, the US government was disappointed that the all-party talks could not arrive at a final conclusion and agreement, but we are urging the parties to continue to work,” he said.

Mr Kenny told reporters afterwards that the Government would work with the Northern Ireland executive to find a solution but that it was the responsibility of the politicians “to make it happen”.