“Leaders welcomed the opportunity to meet and engage in a discussion…”

According to the BBC report, after a “meeting at Stormont Castle, which began at 0930 GMT and lasted almost eight hours, [and] was supposed to take place last week but was cancelled after some parties refused to attend”, “The leaders of Northern Ireland’s five main parties have reaffirmed their commitment to the rule of law”.

Phew.  That’s a relief…

Although, it’s not entirely clear from the reports which “leaders” they mean exactly.  [Was Gerry there? – Ed]

The UTV report has some quotes from the “leaders” statement.

A statement said: “Leaders welcomed the opportunity to meet and engage in a discussion of the events over recent days and weeks.

“Party leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the rule of law and the primacy of the political process and deplored violence, attacks on the PSNI, as well as threats to elected representatives.

“Recognising the importance of culture and identity within the community, and conscious of the impact on business, political leaders re-emphasised that their task was to find political solutions and to ensure peace and stability for the people of Northern Ireland.”

The leaders continued: “The meeting was adjourned and will reconvene in the New Year to further discuss these matters.”

Well, with a bit of luck, it might have resolved itself by then…

Adds  In the Irish Times Gerry Moriarty notes

…it was clear there had been no meeting of minds. The leaders were coming from opposing positions. Mr Robinson and Mr Nesbitt favoured a consultation on flags and emblems but it seemed apparent that this was resisted by Sinn Féin, the SDLP and Alliance.

After the meeting the leaders, who would make no comment, issued a short statement that illustrated the inconclusive nature of the talks.