Peter Robinson upbeat for future despite logjam over Haass
The Haass talks may have ended in disarray, but Peter Robinson has told a Dublin audience that they have laid foundations for a more peaceful future.
The negotiations chaired by US diplomat Richard Haass stalled without any agreement being reached – but the First Minister insisted the main power-sharing parties in Belfast were determined to move forward amid efforts to salvage a deal.
Despite Mr Robinson's upbeat assessment, a trades union-led rally in Belfast today will urge politicians here to end their political stalemate and get on with fixing the economy.
The failed Haass talks broke up on New Year's Eve.
Last night the DUP leader told an accountants' dinner in Dublin that considerable progress was being made towards resolving some of the most intractable problems from the past.
"Attempting to tackle matters considered too difficult in the past is a sign of the determination of the parties to move forward," he said.
"We may not have completed the task but we have laid the foundations and created the environment for a more peaceful and prosperous future.
"And the political stability that has been achieved is the bedrock of the economic progress being made."
Mr Robinson said members of the devolved administration at Stormont had managed to establish a stable and lasting Government.
He added: "We have achieved something previously felt impossible."
However, Peter Bunting of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions said today's rally would call for an end to the current stalemate as parties bicker over how to take the Haass proposals forward.
"We are convinced that the people of Northern Ireland would like to see the NI Assembly concentrate on delivering decent public services like schools and hospitals while facilitating more and better jobs, especially for our young people. We want an economy that works for all," he said.
"We want the promises of the Good Friday Agreement and the St Andrews Agreement to be met. We want a shared society and we want a Bill of Rights to empower the citizens and protect the vulnerable and excluded."
"The message is that we, the people, demand that action be taken to end political stalemate. We need to build a new political momentum in which our politicians work together in the best interests of all the people, addressing a series of vital issues which are crucial for the social and economic wellbeing of Northern Ireland."
Peter Bunting, ICTU