Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein must rethink demands for Richard Haass deal to work, says DUP

BY BRIAN ROWAN

The DUP has told republicans to change their lines if they want a deal in the all-party talks on flags, parades and the past.

MP Jeffrey Donaldson was responding to documents published by Sinn Fein on Monday detailing the party's submissions to the Haass process.

They include suggestions to strengthen the Parades Commission – a body unionists want scrapped, and a flag policy for public buildings based on "equality or neutrality".

Sinn Fein said that meant "both national flags on display or no flags at all".

"The outcome of the Haass process will not be written in the image of the Sinn Fein documents," Mr Donaldson (below) said. "Because what is required is a consensus."

"People take absolutist positions at their peril," he warned.

Asked if he thought the papers represented Sinn Fein's top or bottom lines, he responded: "They are lines and, in the end, they are lines that will have to change."

The DUP negotiator was speaking after a two-hour meeting with US diplomat Richard Haass and talks vice-chair Meghan O'Sullivan – part of discussions the US team is having with all five Executive parties this week.

Mr Donaldson was accompanied by junior minister Jonathan Bell and Orange Order Grand Chaplain the Rev Mervyn Gibson.

Confirming what other parties have said, Mr Donaldson described the talks as having "moved up a gear".

"We're into an intensive discussion about the detail across the three main issues," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

Alliance were next into the Haass talks room yesterday – the party represented by Executive minister Stephen Farry and Chris Lyttle.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Lyttle said: "I'm encouraged that he [Dr Haass] is ambitious about what we can achieve on all three issues.

"There's definitely a change in speed and approach," he continued. "The five parties need to understand the unique opportunity we have to reach agreement."

But the challenge is to reach agreements on three issues that represent much of the unfinished business of the peace process, including the past.

It has become a political battleground on which the definition of victim is being fought over.

But since his arrival and initial conversations, Dr Haass has sounded positive – determined to make agreements and within the set December deadline.

He has now received over 500 submissions – from inside and outside politics.

"I think there will be more than enough there for a positive outcome," Alliance MLA Mr Lyttle said.

As their hectic talks schedule continued yesterday afternoon, Dr Haass and Dr O'Sullivan met Sinn Fein and briefed the First and Deputy First Ministers on the process so far.

The US team will continue their talks with parties through tomorrow and Friday, including a planned round-table session.

Meanwhile, a woman whose dad was killed in an IRA bomb is to meet with Dr Haass today.

Jayne Olorunda (34) from Belfast was just two when her father, Nigerian born Max Olorunda, was killed by the bomb which detonated prematurely in Dunmurry aboard a train in January 1980.

She said she was hoping to "represent to the voice of a 'hidden' or silent victim".

"I see no evidence of any tangible help for Northern Ireland victims," she said.

QUOTES

"The outcome of the Haass process will not be written in the image of the Sinn Fein documents because what is required is a consensus. People take absolutist positions at their peril."

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph