Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

We need to know stumbling blocks

The aftermath of the Haass talks gets more absurd as each day goes past. That is not to say that this newspaper belittles any genuine concerns that the unionist parties have about the final document presented to them and which prevent them signing up to it.

What we find astonishing is that these parties quite simply refuse to outline in any detail what proposals they object to.

It must also be said clearly that Sinn Fein is not being helpful in arguing that there should be no further discussions on the document and that moves towards implementation must begin immediately. The DUP is right to say that some details, particularly in the proposals relating to the past, need further exploration and that keeps alive hope that the process can yet be resurrected. The UUP, on the other hand, rejected the document, although its leader said that it could accept 80% to 90% of its recommendations.

Yet he declined to outline what issues his party could not endorse. He also seems in favour of further discussions, but the whole process has degenerated into the not unusual juvenile exchange of jibes. Dr Haass must wonder if his time wresting with our problems during the past six months was well spent.

Yesterday we asked the DUP, Alliance and the UUP, why they had not signed up to Haass and what proposals caused them problems.

We carry their answers in this newspaper today and leave it up to you, the readers, to make up your own minds on the parties' positions. That is a difficult task since you will not have all the answers required to make an informed judgment.

We argue that it is imperative that the parties provide greater transparency in their responses to ensure that the public is not left with the impression that their refusal to sign up to the Haass proposals – or, in the case of Sinn Fein, to countenance further discussions on them – is merely giving in to hardline fringe elements for electoral benefit ahead of this year's European and council elections.

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