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Haass expected back in Belfast on Saturday

Richard Haass and Harvard professor Meghan O'Sullivan are due back in Belfast for talks on parades, flags and the past.

Richard Haass and Harvard professor Meghan O'Sullivan are due back in Belfast for talks on parades, flags and the past.

Former US diplomat Richard Haass has launched a new bid to end the deadlock and reach agreement with the political parties over flags, disputed parades and the past.

He is expected back in Belfast tomorrow with Meghan O’Sullivan for another round of discussions.

Separate talks with representatives of the five main political parties are likely before full round table negotiations on a fresh set of proposals.

Attempts failed in the run up to Christmas and Dr Haass and Dr O’Sullivan returned home — but indicating they were prepared to come back to Belfast if they thought there was a realistic chance of getting agreement on at least some of the issues.

It is believed a fifth draft will be presented to the parties on Saturday and they will have until New Year’s Eve to come up with a settlement.

All sides believe there is a possibility they can agree on the way forward on parades and the past, but the question of flags is almost certain to remain unresolved for the foreseeable future.

Dr Haass and Harvard professor Dr O’Sullivan were brought to Northern Ireland in July by the First Minister Peter Robinson and the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness with an aim of finding consensus on the displaying of national flags, the holding of parades and how to come to terms with the violence of the past.

 

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