Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Haass talks: amnesty is too raw a subject

Richard Haass and Meghan O'Sullivan outside the Europa Hotel in Belfast
Richard Haass and Meghan O'Sullivan outside the Europa Hotel in Belfast

The few words sent to me in a tweet yesterday afternoon said a lot about the mood out there.

It was a response to Tom Elliott's comment about the calm before the storm.

"It hasn't been too calm for victims of the conflict across the community this week," the message, sent to my Twitter account by the group Relatives 4 Justice, said.

In recent days, Richard Haass and Meghan O'Sullivan witnessed the fallout from comments made earlier this week by the Attorney General.

John Larkin did not use the word amnesty, but it is how his proposals are being interpreted.

In the aftermath, no doubt the Haass team will have had to calm things inside the talks room, and in their news conference yesterday the chair and vice-chair of these negotiations were also trying to calm things in the community.

But they know that they have to get on with things.

What happened this week happened. "It is what it is," Dr Haass said.

And in a couple of weeks' time he needs to have this negotiation focused and he needs no more distractions, no more surprises, outside the room.

Not now, but at some point further down the road, if this place really wants a truth recovery process, then that is likely to involve an amnesty of some type.

But, in the here and now, we now know that people are not ready for that conversation.