Belfast Telegraph

Monday 5 October 2015

Richard Haass' fears of violence dismissed


Published 14/03/2014

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".

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