North political talks to resume at Stormont

North political talks to resume at Stormont
Senator Gary Hart - new US envoy

Negotiations between politicians in Northern Ireland will resume at Stormont today.

New US envoy Gary Hart will chair the talks, in his first visit to the North since being appointed to the role.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers will attend also the meeting.

The talks are aimed at resolving a broad range of Stormont disputes, including those over budgetary matters and welfare reform - as well as the legacy of the Troubles.

Senator Hart has vowed to “listen closely”, saying that although the region had made “remarkable” progress over the past two decades the institutions were facing some major challenges.

He said he hoped the American government could use its influence positively.

In a statement Mr Hart said: “Northern Ireland has made a remarkable journey in the 20 years since the paramilitary ceasefires, with major political, economic and social successes. The United States provided political, economic and social support throughout this period.

“Today, however, political relationships in Northern Ireland are under stress and its leaders are facing a budgetary crisis. Progress toward a shared future has stalled.

“Many question whether the institutions created by the Good Friday Agreement and shaped by the agreements that flowed from it can emerge from the current political stagnation.

“No one underestimates the complexities facing Northern Ireland’s leaders as they seek to fulfil their obligations to collectively solve these problems.

“It is in this context that Secretary of State (John) Kerry honoured me with the request to be his personal representative for Northern Ireland. In that capacity, we will continue to meet and communicate with political and civil leaders from across Northern Ireland as well as with Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers and Irish foreign minister Charlie Flanagan.

“I will listen closely.

“In co-ordination with Secretary Kerry, we will determine how the United States can use its good offices to help the parties find a path that will allow compromise and renewed progress.

“Working together, the parties can give Northern Ireland the stable, prosperous, and shared future its people deserve.”


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