Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Smith has called on Minister Flanagan to outline a timeframe for the next phase of cross party negotiations involving the British and Irish Governments. British Secretary of State Theresa Villiers announced a new round of talks to resolve outstanding issues in Northern Ireland last month, but a definitive roadmap for the process has still to be finalised.
During Priority Oral Questions to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Smith raised the issue once again.
Deputy Smith commented, “While I welcome these moves to progress the stalemate in the North, the British and Irish Governments have, over the past three years, let the issue slip down the political agenda. As co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, both Governments must take a central, leading role in the talks to drive them to a successful and early conclusion.
“Important and contentious issues must be resolved, specifically parades, flags and contending with the past. Following the collapse of the Haass talks at the end of last year, there has been no progress in these areas in the meantime.
“This fresh round of discussions is a welcome departure from the current impasse, but efforts must be made to ensure that momentum is maintained.
“Throughout these talks, urgency and energy must be attached to show the people of Northern Ireland and throughout the island that politics work and that it is about delivering for people. Dealing with these issues will allow the Executive, the Assembly and the two Governments to deal more and more with the bread and butter issues in which the people throughout the island want to see us engaged.
“I am urging Minister Flanagan, along with his counterpart Ms. Villiers to move swiftly on their plans. It is imperative that All-Party negotiations begin as soon as possible and I am calling on him to publish a full timescale for this programme of talks without delay”.