Saturday 27 May 2017

Haass efforts have put the North on a path to long-awaited accord

Dr Richard Haass with Megan O'Sullivan at the Stormont hotel in Belfast, where all party talks failed to secure a deal.
Dr Richard Haass with Megan O'Sullivan at the Stormont hotel in Belfast, where all party talks failed to secure a deal.
Liz O'Donnell

Liz O'Donnell

It would be wrong to characterise the end of the Haass process as a collapse. It was more a failure of nerve by the unionist parties to face down loyalist hardliners with elections just around the corner.

But, to his credit, Peter Robinson has not stormed off the stage in high dudgeon. The door is left open for what Haass termed "a civic vision" or "common purpose" to emerge following wider public debate on the proposals.

Looking at the 39-page document, the intellectual investment is evident. Dr Haass and Professor Meghan O'Sullivan have done valuable work by independently exploring complex unresolved issues. But what was missing was the hand of the governments, or rather the masterful British and Irish diplomats and civil servants with expertise and experience in crafting this type of agreement. After all, this is a sequel.

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