Tuesday, 31 December 2013

So no Haass agreement

Dr. Richard Haass the American diplomat who was chairing talks in Northern Ireland is flying home after another all night session on the 7th draft of his proposals to deal with Northern Ireland's past, parades and flags.

After seven drafts the DUP came away saying that they agreed with the "broad architecture" of the agreement, but that ""some of the language and detail is not what we would have chosen and in some cases we strongly disapprove of the language".

So what did the other parties think:

Sinn Féin thought there was a "basis for a deal in the proposals put forward".

Alliance said ""We have seen a huge sea change in the level of political agreement which has exceeded public expectation, particularly in delivering for the victims and the reconciliation process." But that there were still major challenges over the issues of parades and flags.

The SDLP said "We would anticipate a general endorsement from the SDLP in due course, that's not to say we're entirely happy... but we do welcome it as far as it goes."

The UUP appear to not be prepared to make a statement at this time before presenting it to their party.

The comment from the SDLP shows something in contrast with the DUPs. Both mentioned that they were not entirely happy. But one was prepared to realise that they weren't going to get everything and where happy with where things had got, the other seemed to lack compromise.

I'm someone who although never involved in talks have been involved in endorsing those agreements. First in the 2003 Scottish Programme for Government and again in the 2010 Coalition Agreement. On both occasions not everything that I would have liked to see was there, but there was enough of key elements in there for me to support the process.

In Northern Ireland we have a statutory coalition so parties have to work together without coming to an agreement as to what that work will entail. The end is that they are in Government together and opposition at the same time, it means that things don't get done as the parties haven't really hashed out those agreements and compromises.

Yesterday as I was watching the news coverage of the talks teams entering the Stormont hotel I heard some of the Protestant Unionist Loyalist community shouting to the DUP "No compromises". It makes me wonder what his, as it was a male voice, married life is like. The thing is to learn to work together, life together and move on together you have to make some compromises and whether that is over some of the language in some areas to get a broad agreement on things that need to be done so be it. I've also seen a comment today which read:

"Nothing in it again for the PUL people, and you can only ignore and walk over people for so long. It cannot be at any price. We deserve better than that."

Now as always that comment ignores the fact that the PUL people used to ignore and walk over those who weren't, the fact is that now we, whoever we are, cannot ignores others. We have to work with each other to work things out. And in working things out we get to a point where normality can come to our wee country, leading to people being prepared to invest in us, employ us and give us security of a financial rather than a military variety.

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