The DUP Leader and Northern Ireland first minister has given a hostile reaction to draft proposals drawn up by the US diplomat, Richard Haass, on flags, parades and legacy issues.
The DUP Leader and Northern Ireland first minister has given a hostile reaction to draft proposals drawn up by the US diplomat, Richard Haass, on dealing with flags, parades and legacy issues.
Peter Robinson was joined by other DUP officers yesterday to study proposals by Haass who has been set a Christmas deadline to come up with proposals that enjoy cross party support. Robinson, however, whilst careful not to reveal details of the proposals so far, declared that steam would be coming out of his ears if what he had seen was the final outcome.
Singling out flags as an area where he feels things are going backwards, Robinson explained:
“There are some things that are totally unacceptable and we would be outraged if we really believed that Dr Haass was serious in believing that that was going to be an outcome.
“I suspect that Dr Haass, like everybody else, is hearing views from a wide range of people and putting some of their comments within the papers to allow people to react, well, he is going to get a reaction.”
Noting, however, that talks will be continuing this week, he concluded:
“Nobody is throwing the towel in at this stage. We are just saying that there is not a set of proposals that we can support, agree to or recommend.
“If I thought that was the final paper there would be steam coming out of my ears. But it is not the final paper and we still have work to do and we are up to doing that work.”
Opposition to the proposals as they stand at the moment was echoed also by the Ulster Unionist Leader Mike Nesbitt who, paraphrasing Margaret Thatcher, declared that things at present are “more out, out, out and we’re a long way from in, in, in”.
But SDLP negotiator Alex Attwood has called on the unionist camp “not to rush to judgement”.
Warning of the dangers that unionist opposition could pose to the process, he continued:
“If this week is characterised by the various branches of unionism competing among each other then this process may not succeed and the hopes of the community will be dashed and the needs of victims will not be fulfilled.”
Sinn Fein deputy first minister Martin McGuinness meanwhile took to twitter to declare:
“#Haass talks – let’s prevent the paint lifting off the wall, the more excitable amongst us should cool their jets!!”
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