Thursday 21 September 2017

Susan McKay: Fabric of compromise can be used to weave future of hope in North

Former US diplomat Richard Haass, with Harvard professor Meghan O'Sullivan, speaking to the media at the Stormont Hotel, Belfast
Former US diplomat Richard Haass, with Harvard professor Meghan O'Sullivan, speaking to the media at the Stormont Hotel, Belfast

Susan McKay

It began with Biblical resonance and poetic aphorism nicely bound up together in a tweet: "Today is the last day here in Belfast. Hope NI leaders seize it." This was how Richard Haass prefaced yesterday's talks on the turbulent issues of the past, parades and flags.

Speaking as he and his deputy, Meghan O'Sullivan, returned from their brief Christmas respite from the North's politicians, the former US special envoy defined simply the task they had undertaken.

Ambiguity may have been constructive once, he said, referring of course to the Good Friday Agreement, but it is no longer so. The latest draft of his proposals to the five parties represented, he said, a "constructive specificity".

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