Sunday 18 February 2018

Liz O'Donnell: North has changed – but old quarrel lingers like a ghost

US Diplomat and former envoy Richard Haass was right to set realistic expectations for the task of chairing the panel of parties negotiating to resolve "lingering divisive issues" in the peace process.

He was back for another round of discussions and consultations to look at parades, flags and the "past". It has been a disastrous 15 months in the North with flag protests, riots and violent sectarian incidents reminiscent of the worst years of the Troubles. The economic and reputational cost has been significant and inter-party relations are apparently strained to the point of paralysis in the Executive.

By coincidence, Alastair Campbell was in Belfast and Dublin to promote his 'Irish Diaries', with high-profile launches bringing the drama of his 10 years' involvement in the peace process back into our focus. Tony Blair's controversial and colourful director of communications and strategy was generous in his praise of the contribution of then-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who attended the Dublin launch and contributed a foreword to the book.

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