Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Richard Haass' fears of violence dismissed

Concerns: Former US diplomat Richard Haass
Concerns: Former US diplomat Richard Haass

The First Minister and Deputy First Minister have brushed off claims by Richard Haass that Northern Ireland could return to violence.

The former US diplomat who chaired six months of talks on flags, parades and the past told a US Government committee that if politics did not progress, violence could "re-emerge as a characteristic of daily life".

Speaking from Washington DC where they are attending a series of meetings ahead of St Patrick's Day, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness disagreed with Mr Haass' assessment.

The First Minister said: "We never want to go back to those dark days of the past and I think it's probably unhelpful to start talking in those terms."

Mr McGuinness said he didn't have "any sense whatsoever that the situation will slip back to the past". He added: "I come to that point of view primarily because of the commitment I see among all of those in government and who are working within the police to ensure that extremists do not destroy the peace that we have gained."

But according to SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell, who is also in Washington, Mr Haass' comments were a stark reminder there was "a very urgent need for us to sort out the continuing differences".

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife Galleries

More

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz