Northern Ireland peace process talks end in stalemate after last-ditch overnight negotiations fail to meet end-of-year deadline

No consensus reached on final set of proposals to deal with flags, disputed parades and the legacy of the Troubles

Talks in Northern Ireland have failed to reach an agreement on key peace process issues before a strict end-of-year deadline.

The negotiations chaired by former US diplomat Dr Richard Haass went into a final, marathon session overnight, yet still ended in a disappointing stalemate.

Though Dr Haass insisted he had overseen “significant progress” in the course of the six-month process, he will now step back having failed to broker a deal.

The final attempt to get representatives from all five parties involved to agree a set of proposals began at 10 am yesterday, and effectively ran through to 5am this morning.

Emerging from the negotiations, Dr Haass said: “It would have been nice to come out here tonight and say we have got all five parties completely signed on to the text, but we are not there.”

The foreign relations thinktank boss and former US envoy to Northern Ireland had put forward a “compromise position” for consideration by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Ulster Unionists, Alliance party, Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Sinn Fein.

But while negotiators for the latter two nationalist groups said they were prepared to recommend the proposals to their parties, unionists indicated they still had major difficulties with elements of the text.

Dr Haass had been tasked with settling the three core issues at the heart of the ongoing peace process - the use of flags, permissions to conduct parades and the legacy of the past Troubles.

He said this morning that while nothing had been signed, the process should not be considered a failure.

“Success should not be measured by what we report to you tonight or what the party leaders report tonight - I would ask you to judge the success in six months, in a year, 18 months, in two years, that would give a much more realistic definition or yardstick of what constitutes success,” he said.

“What I believe what we have done is laid down solid enough foundations stones.”

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams signalled his party's willingness to strike a full deal.

He said the proposals presented by Dr Haass represented a “compromise position” and provided the basis for agreement.

“They aren't perfect, we have had to stretch ourselves to embrace them,” he said.

Mr Adams insisted talks could not continue forever and at some point parties had to “call it”.

The SDLP said it would be conducting a consultation on the deal, but party leader Alasdair McDonnell said he would be recommending a general endorsement of the proposals.

On the other hand, DUP negotiator Jeffrey Donaldson said that while progress had been made there were still a number of unresolved problems.

“We do not have an agreement this evening but we are committed to continuing this work beyond now in dialogue with others to try and resolve the outstandiing issues that need to be addressed,” he said.

“We owe that to the people of Northern Ireland, especially to the innocent victims of terrorism who have suffered so much over the decades.”

One of the most contentious issues for unionists seems to be the language used in discussions of the past, with claims too much focus has been put on killings perpetrated by state forces.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said his party needed more time to examine the proposals.

“We will have an honest debate and hopefully form a final opinion at the end of that debate,” he said.

Finally, the Alliance party deputy leader Naomi Long, who was tasked with making a final call on behalf of her party, said she was willing to endorse proposals on the past, but not on flags and parades.

Dr Haass and talks vice-chair Dr Meghan O'Sullivan, a US foreign affairs expert, said they would have a limited role in any discussions from now on, though insisted they were not washing their hands of the process.

“We very much hope the parties reflect on this, discuss it with their leadership and then come back with a strong endorsement,” Dr Haass said. “Over the next week we will know a lot more but we are both confident this agreement will garner significant political support.”

Additional reporting by PA

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
News
peopleSwimmer also charged with crossing double land lines and excessive speeding
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style