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US peace envoy back in Belfast

Britain Northern Ireland
LONDON (AP) - American envoy Richard Haass returned to Belfast on Saturday for a second attempt to quell simmering disputes that have periodically erupted into violence across Northern Ireland. But his plan - details of which have not been made public - appeared to face long odds after the province's leading Protestant politician suggested some parts of the proposed deal were unacceptable.

"There's a large part of the document I could readily bring to the party. There are other elements that render the rest unworkable," said Peter Robinson, who leads Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionists, the province's major Protestant-backed party.

Northern Ireland has been transformed from the days in which the Irish Republican Army grappled with the British military and Unionist militias over the fate of the province, but lingering disputes over flags, parades, and how to deal with the legacy of the conflict periodically inflame sectarian tensions.

Haass, director of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations and a former U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland from 2001 to 2003, was called in by the province's power sharing government to help resolve the issues. Six months of negotiations were supposed to have secured an agreement before Christmas, but even though Haass' deadline passed he said he saw enough potential to return for a second try.

The disputes that Haass has been trying to bring hinge on Catholic opposition to Protestant marches - long a trigger point for Northern Ireland violence - and the contested rights of both sides to fly their preferred British and Irish flags, an argument that has recently led to street blockades and clashes with police.

Both sides are also wrestling with the question of how to honor and bring justice for the 3,700 dead from the decades of bloody conflict.

In a statement to the press ahead of the last-ditch negotiations, Haass said more time wasn't the issue, giving the parties until Monday to come to an agreement.

"At some point we have got to fish or cut bait. That time has come," he said.

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carnahanjajoca December 29 2013 at 1:59 PM


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rdeutel December 29 2013 at 12:04 PM

All the readers of this article US Envoy back in Belfast and those making comments. go to Google and bring up Oliver Cromwell and then decide what should be done. i always believed that it has nothing to do with Religion as there are a lot of mixed happy marriages. ALL Ireland wants is a FREE INDEPENDENT COUNTRY and wouldn't the QUEEN like to get rid of the North too. I am Catholic and grew up in the North

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tellroy December 29 2013 at 11:22 AM

That's ridiculous. Neither of these countries are ruled by religion. And to compare them with the countries that are ruled by fanatical Muslim extremist is even more ridiculous!

Both of these countries (Britain and Ireland) have their own democracies and their leaders are freely elected by their citizens.

The history of the current conflict goes back to the days of British rule. You'll recall that the Brits used to control most of the countries of the world - aka: The British Empire. We here in the U.S. forget that our own freedom was fought against the British when they controlled our land. (Thank God for George Washington or we would still be under their control.)

Anyway, there is a fanatical segment of British thugs (who happen to be Protestant) - they call themselves Orangemen - that gather together every year and and march through Irish territory with Orange flags to remind the citizens of Ireland (who happen to be Catholic) that the Brits still rule the land. Since the people of Ireland have lost thousands of lives through their struggle for freedom from the Brits, this yearly event by the Orangemen simply rekindles all the pain and suffering from the conflicts of both sides.

Obviously the religious aspect of this charade is secondary to the real intention of trying to flex their muscles in the face of Irish citizens in their own land.

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Jim December 29 2013 at 11:01 AM

Maybe it is like our country which is ungovernable because of some who will not give an inch and have enough power to thwart the will of the majority.

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paintcharmer December 29 2013 at 10:47 AM

since the beginning of explorations of new lands , the british have wanted to own the world , just like Hitller wanted to do. If you live in Italy would you want another country to rule part of Italy. Protestant or Catholics living there. We saved britan's butt durring ww11 and we lost thousands of Americans doing it. My Father was a US Marine who fought there.All their worried about is having a king or a pphony queen. to keep the tabloid's busy with their nonsense.

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j1969 December 29 2013 at 10:43 AM

if the brits leave there will be civil war

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Artie December 29 2013 at 10:43 AM

Obviously there is just a lot of OLD deep seated animosity and bad history between the Irish Catholics and the Irish Protestants who had close ties to England. The fighting is more complex than just one over religion, as they usually are. While the conflict in Ireland has some religious roots, the problems were mostly economic and politically based issues. I have to say, the Brits historicially haven't been the nicest folks on the planet. They were colonists and thought they were superior to everyone else. They liked to rule the roost and have things their own way under threat of military force. Let's not forget our own revolution. However, under present day circumstances, I don't understand why these folks can't resolve these differences and have peace once and for all. They should be able to have their own parades and fly their own flags on equal terms. How different can they be? Personally, I would have thought by now that all of Ireland would be completely united and totally under Irish rule and administration. I still don't get this.

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wilkesgm December 29 2013 at 10:41 AM

Sorry, this is not about religion. In 100 AD the Romans went to Ireland and said it was a bunch of people living in mud huts trying to kill each other. In 1180, Prince John of England when there and said it was a bunch of people living in stone houses trying to kill each other. Danish Vikings conquered most of it in 900 and stayed long enough to give the Irish red hair and ultimately left because it was a bunch of people trying to kill each other. Meaning Irish people killing each other is more than 2,000 years old and predates Christianity.

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fitzbeerman December 29 2013 at 10:25 AM

This is what happens when Religion rules a country. Nothing good can ever come of it. They both read the same book and both feel it gives them the right to kill each other. Sounds a bit like the problem with the Muslim extremists.

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Darryl Ehlers December 29 2013 at 10:25 AM

Hi Folks
I do not have the total understanding of what appears to be two Christian factions against each other. Like in America the Martans and the Coy's most has no sense of waring. Ask yourself WWJD is ( What Would Jesus DO ) It is Time to drop the armor. Yes if there is those who leads has a mad on, people should not follow an idot.
Merry Christmas and have a Good day Pilgram Darryl Ehlers

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rademps December 29 2013 at 10:48 AM

It's more like the Jukes and Kallikaks than the (by the way) the Hatfields and McCoys. The hatred goes back over 800 years and, being of Irish descent, I understand the phrase "Forgive, but don't forget." What I don't understand is why both sides don't forgive. It is more than a religious separation, it is, like today's Israel/Arab and Muslim/Christian and even Muslim/Muslim separations, also based on economic disfunction.

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Darryl Ehlers December 29 2013 at 11:50 AM

Sure and Begory your heart is in the right place but your feet are pointing in the wrong direction, Excuse my humor You are right on both. I stand corrected and your addition makes it better
Now it is time to sing The Holly Green The Ivory Green Christmas In Kallarnie All the people at Home
Have a good Day Laddie Darryl Ehlers

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