UK Prime Minister: “Let me reassure the right hon. Gentleman that there is absolutely no question of an imposed solution.”

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, and followed up by the BBC.  For the benefit of the more excitable commenters [and politicians! – Ed] among us, the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, spelt out the political realité on the Haass proposals during PMQs in the Commons today [Added Permanent link]. Mr Nigel Dodds (Belfast North) (DUP): Does the Prime Minister accept that the remarks of the Irish Foreign Minister about the Haass talks and the possibility of some kind of intervention by … Read more

After Haass: US must understand it has absolutely no dog in a sectarian fight…

Interesting that although Richard Haass and Meghan O’Sullivan appeared on Fared Zakaria’s Global Public Square on Sunday (h/t Ruarai) there was absolutely no mention of Belfast or Northern Ireland. There was, however, a fascinating contemporary analogue at play regarding the role of sectarianism in the Middle East. Richard Haass: These are societies that have never really dealt successfully with modernity. You’ve never had a clear divide between the religious and the secular. People confuse democracy and majoritarianism. There’s not a … Read more

Meghan O’Sullivan: “how do we make it possible for the others to deliver on the agreement? . . . I don’t know if there was enough of that in the room this time.”

Whilst the Northern Ireland media continue to obsess over digest the parting shot from Richard Haass on the political parties’ failure to agree to his proposals (version 7), the co-chair of those talks, Meghan O’Sullivan, appears to have been delegated the task of addressing the media south of the border.  [Partitionists! – Ed]  ANYhoo.. In the Irish Times, Dan Keenan’s report includes what is, perhaps, the most revealing comment on the failure to agree. The final draft was written by herself and … Read more

Arkiv: “in the real world pre-existing themes will skew the integrity of investigation, putting ideology before history”

In an early critique of the Haass proposals (version 7), Brian identified, as a potential problem, the “role [] envisaged for academics and experts especially historians”. A great role is envisaged for academics and experts especially historians, reporting to an Implementation and Reconciliation Group of political nominees .  However the academics are  naively treated as an on tap resource to be tasked like school pupils for a project . These proposals would need to be redrawn for any hope of implementation. [added emphasis] The Arkiv … Read more

Haass Talks: three shrugs

As David McCann has noted below the Haass document has been published. I had begun to think of a blog on this subject before I read the draft but had to revise the idea completely, due essentially to the lack of concrete proposals in the final draft. Looking at the document and the number of times it says they were unable to get agreement on things such as the definition of a victim, almost any concrete finding on flags etc. … Read more

Cartoon – Haass talks 2.0

Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here:

Cartoon – away from Home, Alone 2

Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here:

Cartoon – ChristmHaass carve-up

Enjoy the cartoon and have a Merry Christmas and happy new year. Full acknowledgements to James Gillray and his infamous piece, ‘The Plumb Pudding in Danger’. Martin Rowson also gaves his take on it recently here. Morten Morland has his take on it with Cameron and Osborne here. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here:

“The parties were told not to bring in any phones or other communication devices, nor to leave with any copies of the draft.”

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 … Read more

A spirited discussion about the issues on the Haass agenda

One of the recurring themes of tonight’s Haass/O’Sullivan panel discussion is that we often ask the wrong questions. Ask not if there’s light at the end of the tunnel, but why there’s no tunnel! It was the third panel event that Platform for Change have hosted this year. Trevor Ringland chaired (opening with a quote from Blackadder and A Long Peace by Messrs Fealty, Ringland and Steven) and the up-front contributions came from: Lesley Carroll (Fortwilliam Presbyterian Church; member of … Read more

Even Protestants don’t support parades and protests: #LucidTalk

More figures from LucidTalk in the Belfast Telegraph, this time on Parades. Respondents were asked which statements they agreed most closely with (results given as percentages): If you exclude don’t knows, you get the following results (results given as percentages): And, if pie-charts are your thing, here’s charts for the first three groups excluding don’t knows: … and Protestants (excluding don’t knows)…   … and Catholics (excluding don’t knows)… As to the poll itself, the stats provided state that: Our LucidTalk … Read more

Theresa Villiers: “That’s the kind of Northern Ireland we’re determined to build…”

Louth TD, and Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams has taken exception to a recent speech by the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers at the British-Irish Association’s 2013 conference – describing it as “an unacceptable intervention” ahead of those talks with Richard Haass.  Although, I don’t think the speech was delivered “yesterday”…  [And what’s he going to do about it?! – Ed]  ANYhoo… Let’s see if we can identify what might have ruffled his feathers.  From the NI Secretary of State’s draft speech. Moving on … Read more

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 … Read more

“that’s why Richard Haass needs proof – right from the start – that the will to construct a deal really does exist”

Having abandoned their first, draconian, attempt to control regulate Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests, Sinn Féin and the DUP may now face a wider variety of emboldened dissenting voices in seeking compromise on the issue.  Alex Kane has some advice for the incoming chair of the new, improved, working group on parades.  From the News Letter article If I were Mr Haass I would gather all of the parties and assorted hangers-on around the table at 9am on the first Monday morning and … Read more

The Maze is part of a shared past

Malachi O’Doherty is magnificently right.  The best result for the Maze project would have been/ still should be  to provide  an unsparing and comprehensive account of the Troubles, murders, conspiracies and weasel politics, including the narratives without which it is a meaningless recitation of horror. Conflict resolution could come in the last gallery just before the shop.  What a powerful statement it would be coming from the post-Agreement generation of parties and what avenues it would open for collective cognitive therapy. … Read more

“this Assembly notes the lawful but illogical determination issued by the Parades Commission…”

As the BBC reports, the Northern Ireland Assembly has rejected a tabled Sinn Féin amendment, and supported the DUP’s original motion on the recent north Belfast determination of the Parades Commission by 43 votes to 42 – here’s the Commission’s earlier defence of that decision.  And here’s the resolved text from the NI Assembly That this Assembly notes the lawful but illogical determination issued by the Parades Commission on 9 July 2013 in relation to the application by the three Ligoniel Orange Lodges for … Read more

“But today, identity seems more central to politics than ever before.”

Brian’s noting of the advice from Richard Haass to the Israeli government reminded me that there are other places, and administrations, who have received similar ‘lessons’ from The Process™ here.  Afghanistan, for example.  Of course, it always helps to have well-placed friends [writing your speeches! – Ed].  And it’s worth noting that Richard Haass’ role here was not without criticism…  His successor, Mitchel Reiss, has been more forthright in his recounting at times.  ANYhoo…  There’s also Iraq.  Where the BBC now reports Almost every … Read more