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Assembly votes down every Haass proposal

By Claire Cromie

Fours hours of debate at the Northern Ireland Assembly over the Haass plan have resulted in disarray after MLAs voted down every proposal.

A Sinn Féin motion called for steps towards implementing Dr Richard Haass' proposals on flags, parading and dealing with the legacy of the Troubles.

Gerry Kelly said republicans were prepared to accept the plan despite its flaws.

But it was rejected, as were amendments put forward by the UUP, DUP and Alliance.

Earlier, Sinn Fein's Caitriona Ruane accused the DUP and Ulster Unionists of a "failure of leadership".

First Minister Peter Robinson said the Sinn Fein motion was divisive. He said his party’s amendment recognised issues still had to be resolved.

"A deal that simply brings Sinn Fein and the SDLP along is not going to work,” he said. “You can hide behind Haass as much as you like but in six months, a year, we are going to have to come back to these issues.”

The leaders of the five main parties are due to meet this week to discuss the way ahead.

Mr Robinson said a new working group could be chaired by Secretary of State Teresa Villiers, joking that it would be "inhumane" to ask Dr Haass and Dr Meghan O’Sullivan to return to Northern Ireland.

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