Belfast Telegraph

Richard Haass sidesteps Union flag protest questions

BY NOEL MCADAM

US diplomat Richard Haass charged with resolving sectarian disputes has said he has enough on his plate without commenting on an upcoming loyalist parade.

Dr Haass is gearing up for crunch talks with Stormont's five main parties on flags, parades and dealing with the legacy of the Troubles.

Dr Haass yesterday met Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore in Dublin. He avoided becoming involved in controversy over restrictions on the flying of the Union flag amid reports that loyalists plan a resumption of protests in Belfast city centre.

"I'm not going to get involved with this or that pending political activity. I've got enough on my plate," he said.

The ex-White House staffer also said other external issues, like the Maze peace centre row, will not be "deal breakers" and he is conducting the talks as an "open process".

"I don't believe in words like deal breakers. This is a complex process, it's not a traditional negotiation where it's all or nothing," he added.

Following today's multi-party meeting, Dr Haass will return in mid-November and again in December when his report is due.

Belfast Telegraph

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