TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has warned that Northern Ireland peace process troubleshooter Richard Haass "can't work miracles on his own".
Mr Gilmore will be meeting with Mr Haass, the ex-White House envoy, in the US later this week. The US diplomat is chairing talks to resolve disputes in Northern Ireland over parades, protests and flags.
Mr Gilmore held talks with Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers yesterday. The pair discussed the Northern Secretary's refusal to allow a new inquiry into the Omagh bombing.
Ms Villiers said she refused it because it would not provide the families with new information. Mr Gilmore confirmed that the question was discussed during talks in Iveagh House, but did not go into any further detail on the Government's position.
Mr Gilmore said the return of Mr Haass to the peace process was positive.
"I think he is someone who brings great experience to it. He has had a previous involvement in Northern Ireland. And I know from the discussions I have had with him – and I know the secretary of state has also had discussions with him – that he has a very, very good grasp of the issues involved here and how he can be helpful," he said.
Mr Gilmore also urged caution about hopes that Mr Haass alone could deliver a resolution to all of the problems still facing the peace process.
"But I think it's also important that we recognise that he can't work miracles on his own. This is a process that is going to have to have the full engagement of the political parties in Northern Ireland and I hope and expect the support of wider civic society in Northern Ireland," he added.
Ms Villiers said it was a very smart move and a real step forward to invite Mr Haass to chair the talks, but she warned politicians that they had to row in behind the process.
"There won't be a solution unless there is the will to deliver one from Northern Ireland's political leadership," she said.
Mr Gilmore is expected to meet with Mr Haass in New York tomorrow.