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Parties fail to agree on motion to implement Haass proposals

January 14, 2014 11:32 PM
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Parties fail to agree on motion to implement Haass proposals

Northern Ireland's political parties failed to agree on a motion which called on them to implement the Haass proposals, on 13 January 2014.

Sinn Fein's motion called on all political parties to support proposals aimed to help resolve disputes over flags, parades and the past.

Amendments brought by the UUP, the DUP and Alliance were all also voted down.

Last year, former US diplomat Dr Richard Haass and Harvard professor Meghan O'Sullivan led weeks of negotiations between the five biggest political parties, the Orange Order, community representatives, church leaders and other interested parties.

Sinn Féin and the SDLP endorsed the proposals, but the DUP, UUP and Alliance had rejected elements of the published Haass blueprint.

Gerry Kelly, who proposed the Sinn Fein motion, said the Haass talks presented "an opportunity we cannot afford to lose".

He said it was a document "republicans are prepared to support despite its flaws in the belief that it will move society forward to dealing with a shared and better future".

His party colleague, South Down MLA Caitriona Ruane, accused the DUP and the Ulster Unionists of a "failure of leadership".

The UUP Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Tom Elliott presented his party's amendment which called on the first and deputy first ministers to agree on a "practical and positive way forward".

He said the talks were a "genuine attempt to resolve controversial issues" but he objected to a number of proposals including the criteria for adjudicating parades.

His party's amendment sought to delete any reference to the Haass proposals being implemented and instead welcomed a meeting between party leaders on 14 January.

He said that although he was aware people were disappointed an agreement was not reached, "no deal is better than a bad deal".

The DUP amendment also failed to gain support with 38 voting for and 63 against.

It called on members to take "urgent steps" to implement the provisions on dealing with the past, and to develop a "time-limited, independently-chaired mechanism to reach agreement on outstanding matters surrounding flags and parades".

The SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell said everyone now knew each other's position and the focus now needed to be on implementing as many of the proposals as possible.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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