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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  • cynic2

    “Assembly members Alex Attwood and Conall McDevitt are representing the SDLP,”

    Not any more I suspect

  • cynic2

    With such a widespread group of crack (ed?) negotiators we can confidentially expect a good result ….now wheres my plane ticket?

  • Trapattoni

    “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.”

    Seán Murray is a member of the Sinn Féin Ard Comhairle.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I wonder who was first – Murray or Gibson.

  • Pete Baker


    Probably a job lot. Just like the last time…

  • Talk about ‘chipping away at ‘our culture’ Just watched Terence O’Neill in 1969 campaign speech railing against Paisleyites for……wait for it, chipping away at our democracy’ In N Ireland in 1969, O’Neill called NI a democracy. Satire died here in 1969

  • Pasty

    So That’s 3 weeks of money making between now and December and then Haas’s report stating there is no solution as the DUP Orange Order definition of Equality is unacceptable.

    Can anyone really see the Orange Order accepting the right of Nationalists to parade through Unionist area’s like the upper Crumlin Road or the Springfield Road ?

    The DUP and Orange Order think Equality means PUL being allowed to parade where and when they like and Nationalists being denied that right as they have always been denied equality by PUL.

  • Pasty[1.13] They should take recognition that Haass has a Dutch name and renm the talks with a Lou Reed soundtrack of Street Haassle. It’s going nowhere.

  • streetlegal

    Every cloud has a silver lining. We all know that there is much more money to be made from the Stormont gravy train as a political advisor than as an MLA.

  • cynic2

    What a rag bag of former terrorists, well meaning do gooders, shadowy figures from the parties and neer do wells. Who the hell authorized them to speak for anyone? This is a complete negation of democracy. These rest of us look on while this lot “try to find a solution” (Ie hold us all to ransom)

    Why do we pay all these MLAs all that money NOT to represent us in this? Are they not capable of doing this….no don’t answer that …I know the answer.

    Perhaps I misjudge them though and its just that spending three weeks on Haass would take them away from more important things like snouting around in the trough for tastier morsels

  • “This time, there are more people to blame.”

    Where exactly do Villiers and Gilmore feature in these exchanges?

  • Streetlegal. As Devitt and Robinson found out, the ‘Party Comes First’ Still no date for Peter the Punt to return to work.

  • What odds are the punters in Belfast giving for a successful conclusion to the Haass talks? That’s what I really want to know.