Haass talks: DUP says proposals 'need much more work'

Peter Robinson said there were parts of the document his party agreed with, and some they did not

The DUP has said the final Haass proposals on solving some of the most contentious political issues in Northern Ireland "need much more work".

DUP leader Peter Robinson made the remarks in the party's formal response to a document drawn up by the former US diplomat Dr Richard Haass.

Dr Haass chaired talks on resolving disputes over flags, parades and the past but they ended without a deal.

Mr Robinson has now called for an "all-party working group" to be set up.

He said the aim of the working group would be to "resolve outstanding areas of disagreement and implement agreements when identified".

In a statement, Mr Robinson said: "While the final Haass document contains many propositions that the DUP can support and endorse there remain others that would neither be an improvement nor workable and would not help in resolving the problems they were crafted to solve.

"We are satisfied that the broad architecture is capable of housing long-­term workable arrangements yet the detailed components as drafted, which would determine how those structures would operate, need much more work before they could function in the best interests of the community."

'Failure'

Mr Robinson added that the DUP was "not a party that throws in the towel" and said they would continue to work to resolve the outstanding issues.

Dr Haass was asked to chair all-party talks on flags, parades and the legacy of the Troubles last year, after a dispute over the flying of the union flag at Belfast City Hall and contentious parades led to protests and rioting on the streets of Northern Ireland.

The former US diplomat arrived in Northern Ireland in September and led weeks of negotiations between the five biggest political parties, the Orange Order, community representatives, church leaders and other interested parties.

The talks broke up without a deal on 31 December.

At the time, Dr Haass said a final agreement was "not there" but there had been "significant progress" and his seventh and final set of proposals were a "basis for change".

In his statement on Tuesday, Mr Robinson said he did not intend to point the finger of blame as the "failure to reach agreement rests upon us all and reflects the different positions held within the community".

'Mess'

He was speaking a day after Northern Ireland's second largest unionist party, the Ulster Unionists, rejected the final Haass document in its formal response to the talks.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said the former diplomat's proposals "are not viable or acceptable" but added that "neither is the status quo".

Mr Nesbitt said the Haass talks process had created a "mess" that must be cleared up by Mr Robinson and Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) formally endorsed the final Haass proposals at a party meeting on 2 January.

Sinn Féin has said its talks team will recommend that its party executive endorses the document when it meets on 11 January.

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