Haass “asked the parties for confidentiality and to put forward their best team of negotiators…”

The BBC reports that “it has emerged” Richard Haass has written to the Northern Ireland Executive parties ahead of the up-coming talks on parades, and other matters.

Dr Haass, who is due to chair talks later this month, sent the letter after his mid-July visit to Belfast.

He asked the parties for confidentiality and to put forward their best team of negotiators.

Dr Haass also requested the parties answer a series of questions around the issues.

The negotiations are to address disputes around flags, parading and the past.

Sources have said the talks will take place one week each month, with a deadline of December to conclude.

Some political sources suggest Dr Haass, who served as US envoy to Northern Ireland from 2001 to 2003, is most likely to seek agreement around a set of rules to deal with flags, and parades, while setting out a framework for future talks to deal with the past.

Presumably that “confidentiality” will apply after the talks begin…  [Maybe! – Ed].   In the meantime, a separate BBC report names those ‘crack’ negotiating teams

Rev [Mervyn] Gibson will join the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson and Jonathan Bell at the talks.

Sinn Féin is also bringing someone from outside the party to the talks – veteran republican Sean ‘Spike’ Murray will join North Belfast assembly member Gerry Kelly.

And, presumably, the other NI Junior Minister, Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann.   That was the plan, after all.  Why the BBC don’t mention it is another question.  [Because Sinn Féin didn’t? – Ed]  Possibly…

ANYhoo…  Despite Mervyn Gibson’s reported expression of surprise at being asked to take part, both he and Sean Murray were involved in the last ‘working party’ on parades.  Then they were added after the fact as ‘advisers’.  They were both on the Ashdown Parades Review team.  Sean Murray has popped up elsewhere too – at the zenith of the feel-good factor.

Jeffrey Donaldson and Gerry Kelly, who’s still awaiting a ruling on a complaint of a breach of the MLA code of conduct, were also involved in that previous working group as the then NI Junior Ministers – along with then Sinn Féin MLAs Michelle Gildernew and John O’Dowd, and the DUP’s Stephen Moutray and Nelson McCausland.

And we all remember how successful that was.

This time, there are more people to blame.  And the BBC names those additional ‘crack’ negotiators too.

The Ulster Unionist party has appointed Tom Elliott, and party activist Jeff Dudgeon as its representatives.

Assembly members Alex Attwood and Conall McDevitt are representing the SDLP, while MP Naomi Long and MLA Chris Lyttle are leading the Alliance delegation.

What could possibly go wrong…

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