Long quizzes Prime Minister on Haass proposals

East Belfast MP Naomi Long has received confirmation from the Prime Minister that there is “merit” in the Haass proposals on the past, which Alliance has committed to implementing.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions in Westminster, the Alliance MP said David Cameron had previously shown leadership in apologising to victims of state violence in Northern Ireland, but that no such expressions of regret were available to victims of paramilitaries, who represent the vast majority of victims.

Mrs Long further asked him if he agreed with her assertion that the Haass document offers the best opportunity for victims and survivors to obtain truth and justice. Whilst acknowledging the merit in the proposal, he stopped short of committing resources or cooperation to any truth recovery process, placing the emphasis on agreement between local parties.

“I think everyone agreed that the greatest progress during the Haass discussions was in how we comprehensively deal with the past and its legacy,” she said afterwards.

“Alliance believes there is a moral obligation to urgently implement those proposals, which have the potential to deliver for those who suffered most in the Troubles, and to help wider reconciliation. We still have concerns about the lack of ambition in the overall document but that should not deflect us from moving ahead to address this issue for the benefit of victims and survivors.”

Earlier in the House of Commons, Mrs Long also asked Secretary of State Theresa Villiers whether she agreed that, given the cost of civil disorder associated with parades and protests, it was important to have a legally enforceable code of conduct for all parades and protests, as recommended in the Haass document.

“I believe that this would go a long way to changing behaviour on the ground, not least in my own constituency where tensions around parading have been significant. If we are going to see real progress on parades and protests, we need clear commitments on behaviour and accountability, to ensure that the rule of law is respected and protects all public space as shared space.

“The Secretary of State’s urging for the Executive parties to resolve differences on topics including a code of conduct and sanctions should be a wake-up call to unionists in particular, who resisted creating such structures during the Haass talks.”

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