Belfast Telegraph

Richard Haass plans: Governments may intervene to reach deal says Republic's Eamon Gilmore

By John Mulgrew

The Republic's foreign minister has said there will be a joint intervention by both the British and Irish governments in order to further a deal over the Richard Haass proposals.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said he didn't believe there was "a very long period of time" within which the current deadlock on reaching a deal could continue on.

"There is an urgency about getting these issues resolved," he told Sunday Politics.

"I think if there is an intervention - I think it will be an intervention by both governments together. We are agreed that this is something that both governments will work together on."

Responding to Mr Gilmore's comments, a spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office said there "can be no question of imposing a set of solutions from outside which doesn't have the backing of Northern Ireland’s political leadership".

"The UK government will continue to encourage the NI political parties to find an agreed way forward on the issues considered in the Haass process," it said.

The Haass negotiations - chaired by the former US diplomat along with co-chair Meghan O'Sullivan - drew to a close on New Year's Eve without agreement.

While Sinn Fein and the SDLP endorsed the proposals, the DUP, UUP and Alliance rejected elements of the blueprint - dealing with flags, parades and dealing with the past.

The SDLP's John Dallat said assurances raised by Eamon Gilmore over a 'joint intervention' in order to agree a way forward had "given people hope for the first time in many months".

"People who have little or no party affiliation have been delighted by the intervention of the Tanaiste and his comments indicating that the Irish and British governments have recognised the need to intervene in what many people believe is a worsening situation," he said.

But TUV leader Jim Allister - whose party was opposed to the Richard Haass talks - said Mr Gilmore should "butt out".

"The sooner unionists pull the plug on the insidious Haass process the better," he said.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said the Republic had no role to play in "strand one" issues which are "the internal affairs of Northern Ireland".


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