Haass deal failure would be an embarrassment - Mid Ulster MLA

Deputy First Minister and Mid Ulster MLA Martin McGuinness
Deputy First Minister and Mid Ulster MLA Martin McGuinness

If final efforts to forge a deal founder, it will be an indictment of the leadership qualities of the Province’s politicians.

That is according to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who spoke out ahead of today’s last-gasp negotiations.

The Sinn Fein MLA told the BBC at the weekend: “I just think that for Richard Haass and (vice-chair) Meghan O’Sullivan to leave here without making an agreement would be a terrible embarrassment for politicians, for the process, and would clearly show a lack of leadership qualities in terms of facing up to these very difficult challenges.”

Yesterday afternoon, the SDLP’s Alex Attwood posted the following on the website Twitter: “Everything is achievable because it is not a matter of how many hours are in the day but the will of the parties.”

Alliance MP Naomi Long had warned on Friday that an unsuccessful conclusion will mean that the issues at the heart of the talks “will continue to distract from other important business”.

Outside the party-political sphere, Kenny Donaldson issued a statement on behalf of campaigning umbrella organisation Innocent Victims United, pouring scorn on what the talks seem to have achieved.

Today marked “D-day” for the process, he said, adding they had submitted their own written response to the talks.

“The positions we presented were and are crystal clear and unlike others we are consistent,” he said.

“We do not cherry pick murders that are wrong and others that are justifiable. Whether life is taken by republicans, loyalists or individual members of the security forces through premeditated acts, we are clear that all of these acts were wrong and unjustifiable.

“Until a point is reached in this country where there is universal acknowledgement at a political and communal level that there was never a ‘so-called political cause’ which justified the taking of life, we are going nowhere as a society.”

However, he said that the Haass talks had “conclusively failed to deliver this most basic fundamental from which a sound foundation could then have been built”.

Victims’ group Relatives for Justice, which has lobbied over killings by members of the security forces, said: “Overall the key to the success of any process will undoubtedly be that of independence – the ability to be independently free from all political, security, and military/combatant vested interest influence, and where the needs of all those bereaved and injured are paramount irrelevant of who caused the harms.”