Richard Haass’ attempt to ensure confidentiality during the on-going talks between the five Northern Ireland Executive parties – on the past, parades, and flags – failed to survive first contact with Sinn Féin. Today the Haass team presented their first, complete, draft proposals to the parties. The BBC report notes his latest attempt at ensuring confidentiality.
While the parties examined the proposals at Stormont, talks chairman Dr Haass had travelled to London to meet the Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers and Downing Street officials.
Dr Haass was expected to brief them on progress to date.
He will return on Tuesday for another round of talks with Northern Ireland politicians.
Dr Haass has previously said he is determined to bring the talks to a head by the end of the year.
Five rooms were set aside inside the Stormont Hotel in Belfast on Monday for the political parties to examine Dr Haass’s draft document.
The parties were told not to bring in any phones or other communication devices, nor to leave with any copies of the draft. [added emphasis]
And whilst four of those five parties appear to have been willing to talk directly to the media in general terms about the proposals afterwards, someone seems to have gone into more specifics with the Irish Times’ Gerry Moriarty. [Is Haass still asking that immortal question? – Ed] Perhaps… From the Irish Times report
Other ideas in the paper include a new flag for Northern Ireland that would be acceptable to both communities and the potential for limited immunity in return for truth telling by those who committed Troubles-related killings and other crimes, sources said today.
One of the main proposals that Dr Haass has presented in his document is the creation of a central organisation to deal with Troubles killings. Currently such investigations fall within the remit of the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), the PSNI and the Police Ombudsman.
But under Dr Haass’s proposal this new umbrella body would replace the HET and handle all past killings, sources said today. It would also free up the PSNI and the office of Police Ombudman to concentrate on the present rather than on the past, the sources added.
Sources said that the idea of limited immunity for people who committed Troubles-related killings in return for victims and survivors being offered the truth from perpetrators is implicit rather than explicit in the draft proposal paper. [added emphasis]
A body to replace the current Parades Commission is also proposed, sources said, notwithstanding that the Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers on Friday appointed a new Parades Commission to serve a three-year term.
She made clear however that if the Haass talks devised an acceptable alternative that the commission would be quickly disbanded.
Sources said today however that the idea of new generally acceptable Northern Ireland flag and/or emblem was not designed to replace the union flag but to augment it.
Hmm… [When is the deadline, again? – Ed] December… Christmas… the New Year…
Adds A day later, and Sinn Féin also have “difficulties” with the draft proposals…