The main political parties in Northern Ireland were yesterday generally positive about progress after the first week of talks under Richard Haass.
Alliance MP Naomi Long said yesterday, there had been an all-party meeting with Dr Haass.
“The tone was relatively positive,” she said.
“The December deadline can be solved - people know what needs to be done,” she said. “Compromise is required but it is doable. The test will be over the next four months. People have increasingly little patience with politicians and with violence on the streets.
“I am positive about the potential [of the talks] but it all depends on an act of the will on behalf of all the political parties.”
However, UUP MLA Tom Elliott played down expectations.
“I think people need to be realistic about what can be achieved,” he said. “This not going to be an easy process or Dr Haass would not need to be here.
“Clearly when things start coming on the table, when we get into hard negotiations things will get problematic.”
He believes that Sinn Fein will try to create a “hot house” environment late in the talks by adding in additional issues at the last minute, in order to press their advantage and get a deal which suits them.
The SDLP’s Alex Attwood said: “If we go into 2014 with the shadow of doubt and more dispute and a failure to resolve these issues that have been around now for far too long, then that will sour politics into next year.”
MLA Gerry Kelly was more upbeat. “We are at a fairly crucial point in the next few months,” he told the BBC. “What we want to come out at the end of it is that we have made substantial progress and are moving ahead.”
The DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said the politicians alone do not have the answers.
“We want to hear from people across the community, their views on all of these issues so that we can take those views on board as we prepare our submissions and seek to reach agreements on what are very complex and challenging matters,” he said.
Yesterday also saw five office bearers of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association providing evidence to the talks.
After the cross-party meeting, Councillor Seán McPeake, NILGA President, said:
“We believe that local government has a key practical, civic leadership role in dealing with the issues being considered, working in partnership with our colleagues at the Assembly. With the impact of Dr Haass’ work being felt most keenly at a local level, local elected members and councils must be treated as partners in this work.”
He said this is an unprecedented time of change in local governments, the biggest for 40 years.