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Haass talks end without agreement

By Staff Reporter

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams says the party’s  negotiating team believed there is a basis for a deal in the Haass proposals that broke up without agreement in the early hours of New Year’s Eve.

After months of talks and negotiations, the former US diplomat Richard Haass and his co-chair, Professor Meghan O’Sullivan, headed back to the United States without an agreement.

However, former West Belfast MP Gerry Adams said the Sinn Féin team would recommend the proposals to the party, although he stressed the proposed deal was “not perfect”.

“I’m sure there will be a lot of disappointment out there as people come to terms with the fact that there doesn’t appear at this point to be an agreement,” he said.

The talks, which centred round the contentious issues of flags, parades and how we deal with the past, have been taking place since September. Unionist opposition to some of the proposals on the table brought the talks to a  halt yesterday morning with no agreement in place.

Dr Haass said: “All the parties support significant parts of the agreement. At the same time, all have some concerns. We very much hope that the parties reflect on this, discuss it with their leadership and then come back with a strong endorsement. Over the next week we will know a lot more.”

He said progress had been made in all three areas. Flags had proven to be the “toughest area of negotiations”. That section of the talks had effectively been ‘parked’.

He added: “It would have been nice to have come out here tonight and say we have got all five parties completely signed on to the text.

“We are not there but I believe there is a real prospect that we will get several of the parties to sign on the text in full.

“Several of the other parties will endorse significant parts of it, and together this will provide a basis for a serious ongoing political process.”

Lagan Valley DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said: “We entered into this process to get the right deal for the people of Northern Ireland, but not any deal. We do not have an agreement this evening but we are committed to continuing this work beyond now in dialogue with others to try and resolve the outstanding issues that need to be addressed.”

SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell said he would anticipate “a general endorsement from the SDLP in due course, that’s not to say we’re entirely happy, but we do welcome it as far as it goes.”

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