Northern Ireland

Alliance leader David Ford says talks dates must be finalised

David Ford
Image caption David Ford said no progress had been made in the six months since the Haass talks ended

Dates for talks on flags, parades and the past must be finalised this week, Alliance leader David Ford has said.

Six months of negotiations ended with no agreement on New Year's Eve. Further talks were announced this month.

Mr Ford said if no dates are confirmed, his party would call on Downing Street to convene talks with the NI Executive parties and the Irish government.

"Six months of leaders meetings have achieved nothing - this cannot go on indefinitely," he said.

Image caption Talks chaired by Meghan O'Sullivan (left) and Richard Haass (right) ended without agreement

Proposals drawn up late last year by former US diplomat Richard Haass and Harvard professor Meghan O'Sullivan secured broad support from Sinn Féin and the SDLP.

However, the DUP said more work was needed to reach consensus, and along with the UUP and Alliance Party, it did not endorse the proposals.

Mr Ford said that six months later, the parties were "no further on with these critical issues".

"Given the threat to community relations from another summer of unrest, it is scandalous that the first and deputy first ministers have left these issues sitting on the shelf," he said.

"If they will not organise these all-party talks that they promised three weeks ago, then the British government must take the responsibility of doing so."

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