Haass plan 'not viable' says UUP leader Mike Nesbitt

Mike Nesbitt: "Up to first and deputy first ministers to define way forward"

Proposals drawn up by US diplomat Richard Haass "are not viable or acceptable", UUP leader Mike Nesbitt has said.

Months of negotiations about parades, flags and the legacy of the Troubles ended on New Year's Eve with no deal.

Mr Nesbitt was speaking after the Ulster Unionists' 100-strong ruling executive discussed its response.

He said Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness must "clear up the obvious mess created by this process".

He said that while the document drawn up by Dr Haass and co-chair Prof Meghan O'Sullivan was not acceptable, "neither is the status quo".

"We are committed to a better and fairer way forward, we don't believe Haass has cracked it, but it's up to Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness to define a way forward for these talks," he added.

Meghan O'Sullivan and Richard Haass chaired a series of round-table talks

The party said it would discuss "any measures brought forward by the first and deputy first minister" at its next executive meeting in February.

Earlier on Monday, Dr Haass and Prof O'Sullivan published a two-page summary of their blueprint.

In it, they said the implementation of their proposals "would leave the people of Northern Ireland considerably better off than they are today by tackling the difficult issues that continue to divide society".

"It is the product of work informed by a sense of urgency given the tension and violence of the past year and the need to contend with the past before the passage of time makes this even more difficult," they said.

"It is not self-implementing, but requires approval, resources, and support for implementation in Northern Ireland and, for certain elements, in Westminster and elsewhere."

Elsewhere, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness claimed unionists were allowing "negative elements in the Orange Order" to set their agenda on the Haass proposals.

Mr McGuinness said any working group on the Haass proposals should ensure the implementation of the document as it stands, rather than seeking to reopen its contents for fresh negotiations.

The Orange Order described Mr McGuinness's comments as "bogus".

"While the issues concerned are very difficult to resolve, and have proved to be so, we pray a fair and balanced resolution can still be found in keeping with a genuinely shared future," a spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Alliance leader David Ford has called for "immediate steps" to implement the Haass proposals on dealing with the past.

"There was no disagreement around the table that this was the area where greatest progress had been made, and where strongest agreement existed," he said.

Mr Ford added: "Differences over the regulation of parades or flags should not be allowed to stand in the way."

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