Belfast Telegraph

David Cameron shows parties the way with bid to resolve the issues of parading, flags and the past

Editor's Viewpoint

Having seen his party drop to third place in a national election for the first time in its history, one might think that the rise of Ukip would figure far more prominently in David Cameron's mind today than Northern Ireland's seemingly intractable legacy problems.

He therefore deserves credit for urging through this newspaper the local political leaders to try to resolve the issues of parading, flags and the past.

It was disheartening that the political parties here could not reach agreement during the Haass talks but perhaps they had one eye on the local government and European elections and felt that it was better to do nothing that could potentially harm their vote-catching.

But now they should have the confidence to go forward with more open minds following the results which saw Sinn Fein and the DUP retain their leading positions and also a relatively positive performance from the UUP.

For open minds will be required. When it comes to victims and how to help them, everyone has a different agenda and a different set of victims in mind.

Even the proposal for truth recovery, which is desired by a significant number of victims, causes problems for both the state and paramilitary organisations.

The Prime Minister is very keen that all sides to the conflict are treated equally and that the current pressure on state agencies to own up to their mistakes does not become the overriding agenda.

The deteriorating relationship between Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness does not make the process of finding agreement on delicate issues any easier, but it is encouraging that there seems to be a consensus to at least talk. There is a potential template for solving contentious parades through the agreements reached in Londonderry between residents and the Apprentice Boys and there seems to be a desire to move the flags issue down to the new super councils, putting it on the long finger and also making it possible for local solutions to be found in each council area rather than one over-arching policy for the whole of Northern Ireland.

But time is of the essence on the other issues giving the impending marching season and its potential for trouble.

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