Northern Ireland

Martin McGuinness: 'Unionists danced to extremist tune'

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Media captionMartin McGuinness accused unionist parties of "dancing to the tune of extremists"

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has accused unionist parties of "dancing to the tune of extremists".

Mr McGuinness said he believed this had an impact on the outcome of the Haass talks on flags, parades and the past

The leaders of Northern Ireland's five main parties held talks at Stormont about the Haass proposals.

Afterwards, SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell described the discussions as positive and said it was now time for implementation rather that negotiation.

Sinn Féin's Mr McGuinness said: "I have watched over the course of the last 18 months unionist parties dancing to the tune of extremists within their own community and that has to end.

"I say that because I believe the influence of these people has impacted on the Haass negotiations and the Haass outcome.

"This is a time for leadership, this is a time for standing up to extremists who are trying to bring this process down."

'Sidelined by nonsense'

Mr McGuinness said the Haass proposals were the best way forward and he was "fed up to the back teeth" with issues such as education and the economy "sidelined by the nonsense that goes on around parades and flags, and the failure in the past to deliver on victims".

The talks came a day after the assembly rejected a Sinn Féin motion calling for the implementation of the Haass plan.

Amendments by the UUP, the DUP and Alliance were also voted down.

The Haass talks, chaired by US diplomat Richard Haass and Harvard academic Prof Meghan O'Sullivan, ended on New Year's Eve without a deal.

The parties have agreed to meet again next week.

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