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Time for parties to stand up and be counted

THE current talks process must be pursued with purpose and intent by all involved, especially the British and Irish governments, aided and encouraged by the US administration.

The Northern Ireland parties have to be flushed out to ensure that no party exercises a veto, or encourages others to have a veto-based outcome of failure.

The people of the north - and, indeed, the rest of Ireland and Britain - must be respected and acknowledged for their forbearance and support to get a peaceful climate and progressive democratic politics working successfully here.

Our ongoing political competition between the two big parties has been about having controlled and managed street-based agitation in a politically tension-fuelled context.

We haven't yet sorted out historical and legacy matters to help move us on to a more relaxed, or settled, community and society. That's the real challenge now.

Will the Northern Ireland parties measure up to the task of tackling the outstanding matters?

JOE BYRNE (SDLP)

MLA for West Tyrone

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