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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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sbgaard December 28 2013 at 11:43 PM

a distraction. why?

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Jim December 28 2013 at 9:18 PM

Get the Brits out, let Ireland become one. Sinn Fein

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1 reply
Zoe & Anthony Jim December 28 2013 at 10:39 PM

ignorant *******

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vbub101 December 28 2013 at 8:56 PM

their freedom

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Catherine Fanto December 29 2013 at 6:34 AM

This is really a political conflict, not religious. You'll notice that they never fight over religious practices. It's a shame that been defined as a Protestant/Catholic conflict, because it isn't. As some other commenters have said, Christians don't fight over these kind of issues, at least, not physically. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and His followers are enjoined to demonstrate that in their lives, both privately and publicly.

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1 reply
Tom Catherine Fanto December 29 2013 at 7:40 AM

Let's get Phil Robertson's take on this

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vbub101 December 28 2013 at 8:55 PM

i been to Irland most of the people I came into contacr with they all love America.

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Rob December 28 2013 at 8:41 PM

It isn't all about Christian v. Christian. It's about the Brits holding on to one of their last colonial territories. Let Ireland rule Ireland and be done.

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thunderboatsuzy December 28 2013 at 8:37 PM

i say let england give back the 6 counties to IRELAND the queen should pull out just like she did in hong kong etc,,go home lizzie your tired,

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Russ December 29 2013 at 7:01 AM

Me grandfather told me stories of the British sending ships to Ulster to steal crops which they took back to england to feed their cattle. Does anyone wonder why the orangemen became violent?

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1 reply
Judi McParland Russ December 29 2013 at 7:23 AM

Why would the British stealing crops enrage the Orangemen. They were the planters who were brought to Ireland by the British in order to steal the land from the native Irish. The Orangemen become violent because the original owners of the land want their part of Ireland to be free of British rule. That's what makes the Orangeman violent. That and the fact that the grants given to the Orangemen were used by them to build fancy community centers and drinking clubs and the Fenians (as the Orangemen would name them) used their grants to educate their children, resulting in the hi-tech jobs now available are not in community centers and drinking clubs.

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FRANK December 28 2013 at 8:28 PM

HI, THIS IS TRAGIC TIME FOR THE IRISH. I AM SCOTTISH BY NAME. IRISH BY LOOKS. PRAYED FOR THE INGLISH IN THERE TROUBLES. THEY HAVE BROUGHT IT ON THEMSELVES. ANSWER TO PROBLEM. SEND THE ONES THAT ARE PART ENGLISH AND SCOTTISH BACK TO ENGLAND. GIVE THE IRISH BACK THERE WHOLE COUNTRY. APOLIGIZE FOR THE HURT THEY HAVE DONE TO THE IRISH. ESPECIALLY THE POTATOE FAMINE THAT THEY HAD MURDRERED ALL THOSE PEOPLE. GIVE THEM BACK THE NORTH SEA THAT YOU ARE PUMPING THERE OIL FOR YOUR PROFITS AND NOT GIVING IT TO THE IRISH PEOPLE WHO OWN IT. JUST SAY YOUR SORRY FOR WHAT YOU HAVE DONE AND MAKE RESTITUTION. FRANK

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1 reply
thunderboatsuzy FRANK December 28 2013 at 8:41 PM

your right frankie i,m with you,she,ll never say she,s sorry let them stay if they want but they won,t stay if she,s not there with her flag hanging high,,she has murdered many and that dead maggied thatcher too another murderer, she,s in hell now,,shame greedy lot but they,ve done it to the world and gotten away with it, all the way back to irag that,s the only reason they helped old georgie boy out with his fake war against sadam,they were getting revenge for many years ago having to give back that country,

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1 reply
updecreek thunderboatsuzy December 29 2013 at 1:32 AM

tel it like it is ....

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stellarwolf10010 December 29 2013 at 7:36 AM

No one really knows what's going on except these people themselves. Let them, "whomever the hell they are" battle this out for themselves and mind our own business! Who gives a damn. I don't. I can only change my own "very little" corner of the world!!!!!!

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2 replies
dahermit stellarwolf10010 December 29 2013 at 8:30 AM

It would seem that it may be better for the Brit government to back out of N. Ireland and let the factions kill one another until one was clearly victorius over the other. Negotiatiated peace seems to have been temporary.

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Mr. Sinatra stellarwolf10010 December 29 2013 at 9:11 AM

I think you'd give a damn if it was your country being occupied. Why is it the USA sticks its nose into the affairs of Middle Eastern nations, but does nothing to assist the poor people of Ireland? Shame they don't have oil... We'd be assisting the sh** out of them.

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