All five parties involved in the Haass negotiations have now clearly set out their positions. Unsurprisingly that shows which parties showed leadership and engaged in good faith.
The public discourse is now focussed upon whether or not the compromise package will be implemented.
Talk of a working group is nothing more than a device to filibuster the Haass proposals out of existence. It’s a bogus idea designed to provide cover for DUP opposition, and will be exploited by the UUP to avoid giving leadership, and put pressure on the DUP.
As Richard Haass said on ‘The View’, these proposals are to be implemented, not renegotiated.
The potential of the Haass proposals must not be squandered because large sections of political unionism are now locked into a sectarian electoral race to the bottom with each other.
A political vacuum needs to be avoided leading up to the May elections, and fuelling another negative context for this marching season.
Civic society must now bring a renewed momentum to the peace process. The statement from the main church leaders, and initiative by NIC-ICTU to organise the rally in Belfast on January 31 are the type of positive initiatives required.
These need built upon and multiplied by all sections in our society.
Popular ownership of the peace process must be re-energised. The Haass process proved that compromises and solutions do exist to our unfinished business. Civic and community voices have to say that loudly and clearly.
The DUP and UUP need to engage properly with all the rest of us. The days of preconditions are over.
However, the British and Irish governments need to also step up to the plate. The current situation is unsustainable. It undermines the political institutions and damages the peace process.
A step change is urgently required from both governments.