Hopes for progress in post-Haass discussions
Stormont's five Executive parties have been asked to submit the names of delegates to attend new talks on flags, parading and dealing with the past by today.
Jeffrey Donaldson MP, a DUP delegate at last year's talks chaired by US diplomat Dr Richard Haass that failed to reach agreement, said a new round of negotiations would likely be held over two three-day periods before the end of the month.
He said he hoped the new talks would build on the progress made at the marathon Haass talks and that early progress would be made on the parading issue.
Although the new talks will not involve Dr Haass or his vice chair Professor Meghan O'Sullivan, they have been consulted by the British, Irish and US governments, which are now attempting to co-ordinate their approach.
Yesterday Eamon Gilmore, the Irish foreign minister who will quit his post shortly after a poor election for Labour, said an opportunity to make progress still existed. "I sense that that view is shared by the local parties and that there is a wish on the part of all of the political parties to see progress being made," he added.
London has resisted pressure from nationalists to push the final blueprint of Dr Haass' proposals and engage in the talks.
Prime Minister David Cameron called for urgent talks in an article for the Belfast Telegraph two week ago, urging parties to "finish the job" started by Haass.
The Ulster Unionists and the DUP are both keen to make progress on parades before the height of the marching season. First Minister Peter Robinson has said that a preliminary process to get through this year might be possible and would pave the way for full agreement later.
UUP leader Mike Nesbitt is also keen to tackle parading first and has suggested the loyal orders issue a voluntary code of conduct to cover members, bands and other parades participants.
Last night a senior Orange Order source said such a code would shortly be issued for Londonderry. He predicted that if the loyal orders were formally asked for a code to cover the whole province they would produce one.