Ford: Time for honesty on prospects for talks

Alliance Leader, David Ford MLA has questioned whether other parties are genuinely committed to reaching agreement on contentious issues, following the delay in organising the five party talks. He was addressing the Alliance Party’s ruling Council in Newcastle on Saturday.

He emphasised that Alliance is committed to reaching agreement on all three outstanding issues – flags, parades and the past – in the proposed all-party talks.

David Ford said: “It is now exactly twelve days since Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness agreed to hold these all-party talks, and promised to deliver a paper on the details within 48 hours. Yet so far no details whatsoever on the arrangements for these meetings have been given to the parties.

“There are meant to be two periods of intensive talks before the start of July, but there has so far been a total lack of urgency coming from the First and deputy First Ministers.

“The reality is that, if the will is there, we can resolve these issues in these talks. However, if it is taking nearly two weeks for Robinson and McGuinness to organise their diaries then it suggests the will is not there.

“I have a busy diary as Justice Minister. Other members of the Alliance team are equally busy. Yet we are committed to taking part whenever the talks are convened.

“I am very concerned that Peter Robinson is already attempting to take issues off the table. This follows the earlier refusal of Mike Nesbitt to discuss the past because of the ‘on-the-run’ issue.

“This shows a total failure of leadership and commitment. Any agreement must include all three issues.

“Concerns about flags and parades are inextricably linked with our divided past. Anyone who suggests otherwise is misleading the people.

“If parties do not wish to see these issues resolved then they ought to admit this to the public, rather than give false hope.

“Parties need to engage in these talks, and do so with a genuine intention of finding agreement. If politicians insist on playing games with these talks then they risk further damaging the public’s trust in politics.”


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