Peace process talks - Seize the initiative

When former US diplomat Richard Haass urged Northern politicians to “fish or cut bait” at today’s negotiations between the main parties on contentious issues in the peace process, he was no doubt tempted to use a more direct, albeit a more crude analogy.

The omens look favourable. Peter Robinson, the first minister, is hopeful of a deal and Martin McGuinness, the deputy first minister, warns that failure would be politically embarrassing. Ultimately, the cost could be far greater than a matter of mere embarrassment.

If politicians have the courage to put differences aside and seize the initiative, they will claim a place in history, their names on a new year deal. If they fail, the North’s social, economic, and political future could be set back for decades to come.

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