Belfast Telegraph

On the runs: Peter Robinson says Haass talks issues such as flags, parades and past still need addressed

Divisions over flags, parades and dealing with the past still need to be addressed despite the secret letters revelations following the collapse of the Hyde Park prosecution, First Minister Peter Robinson has said.

The Ulster Unionists have dropped out of five-party talks aimed at resolving flashpoint issues left over from the peace process over the fall out from the John Downey controversy.

Peter Robinson said: "I believe that the issues that are raised by the Haass talks are issues that have to be dealt with.

"I don't believe that it is possible to reach any conclusions to the issues relating to the past until we have the inquiry outcomes.

"That does nothing to stop us looking at issues relating to parades or the commission to deal with flags and identity."

Former US diplomat Richard Haass chaired five-party talks on the issues but the dialogue ended without agreement before the New Year. Party leaders have continued talks since then.

Last week Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt said the process begun by Dr Haass and the party leaders' meetings to discuss his proposals are over because of Sinn Fein and "bad faith".

Mr Robinson told Stormont's Assembly "The whole purpose for us of the matters relating to the past was to ensure that there was access to justice for those who have not received justice for the loss of their family members.

"We need to be sure that everyone is susceptible to investigation, inquiry and prosecution."

Unionists have called for an extraordinary meeting of the Policing Board, which holds police to account.

DUP Stormont MLA Jonathan Craig said: "These are very grave and serious issues at stake and it is essential that the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) give a full and accurate account of their role in this saga.

"The disgraceful revelation that this so-called administrative scheme was being carried out behind the backs of almost everyone in Northern Ireland bar Sinn Fein has caused serious damage to public confidence.

"It is essential to the restoration of public confidence that the PSNI detail fully just what the nature of their involvement in this scheme has been.

"Furthermore, it is essential, in the context of devolution of policing and justice powers, that we establish under whose authority the PSNI were party to this administrative scheme?"

A spokeswoman for the Policing Board said: "A request for an extraordinary meeting has been received and is currently being considered."

Further reading

Two IRA Birmingham pub bombers given immunity letters: claim

Peter Robinson slams Tony Blair 'deception' over on-the-run scheme

'Ghoulish' homecoming party for Hyde Park bomb suspect John Downey criticised by unionists

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