Peace talks failure

In a week when he was nominated for the Tipperary International Peace Award, US diplomat Richard Haass had to fly home on Tuesday without reaching agreement in the Northern Ireland peace talks.

The outcome was disappointing but not a total surprise.

Mr Haass had already returned to the US before Christmas without reaching a resolution but had indicated he would return to Belfast again before the New Year if he thought there was some hope of success.

And when he did fly back he set Monday night as an absolute deadline for an agreement.

It was a very tight window of opportunity to strike a deal agreeable to all sides following decades of strife and conflict.

And while the Good Friday Agreement was truly historic in leading to the North’s first power-sharing executive, the prospect of reaching compromise in such as areas as flags, parades and dealing with past conflict were always going to be slight.

They are the issues that still divide communities in the North - and take the different factions onto the streets - and it looks like they will continue to do so.

If someone of the standing and reputation of Richard Haass cannot resolve the differences then one must wonder who can.

Michael Heverin





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