Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Factions laying markers for Richard Haass

Richard Haass
Richard Haass

On the face of it, parades is the easier issue US diplomat Richard Haass has to chart a solution towards when the negotiations he is heading up begin next month.

For, compared to the complexities of his two other key tasks -- finding a way forward on flags/ emblems and dealing with the legacy of the Troubles -- a politically viable template for dealing with parades is already on the table.

It was hammered out three years ago, by a joint DUP/Sinn Fein group, following the devolution of policing and justice, but the proposals were then rejected by the Orange Order. Now they are being revived and, given a fair wind from the loyal orders this time, the two big parties have the numbers in the Assembly to get legislation through.

Since the majority of parades involve the loyal orders, republicans may feel they need to stack up some bargaining power for when the Haass meetings get under way.

Both sides are therefore laying down markers in the run-up to the discussions.

The Orange Order asks why its lodges should not be able to pass a nationalist area along its traditional route? Because it should be agreed with local people, say their opponents, rather than imposed on them.

Why shouldn't republicans be entitled to honour their fallen in a town shared by both communities? Because it is deeply insensitive to the relatives of the victims of the IRA members being commemorated.

But the jockeying for position we have seen could arguably make resolving the issue more difficult.

Over to you, Mr Haass...

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