Ulster parties urged to make last-ditch effort for peace deal

POLITICIANS in Northern Ireland have been urged to reach a compromise deal on parades and flags.
Ian PaisleyIan Paisley
Ian Paisley

Five-party talks enter their final hours today in a last-ditch attempt to reach agreement on issues left over from the peace process.

Former US diplomat Richard Haass has been leading negotiations in an effort to prevent a resumption of recent sectarian violence.

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US National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said: “Initiating these talks demonstrated the commitment of the parties and people of Northern Ireland to move forward on tough issues. We are confident that a solution can be reached if there is political will on all sides.

“We call upon the leadership of the five parties to make the compromises necessary to conclude an agreement now, one that would help heal the divisions that continue to stand between the people of Northern Ireland and the future they deserve.”

There has been an upsurge in recent bombings and attempts to kill members of the security forces by dissident republicans opposed to the peace process.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said the political negotiations in Belfast are “80 to 90 per cent over the line”.

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“So there’s not a lot left, but what is left is serious from our point of view,” he said.

Former Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley has been admitted to hospital for tests. The 87-year-old was treated for a heart condition last year and was taken into the Ulster Hospital, near Belfast over the weekend.