SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood believes a deal can be struck before Christmas on the Haass proposals on flags, parades and the legacy of the Northern Ireland Troubles.
Stormont’s political parties have been examining the document drawn up by US diplomat Dr Richard Haass after it was presented to them yesterday.
“We, in the SDLP, are positive and we have been positive since the beginning. We still have a lot of work to do but there is strength in the document,” the SDLP Assemblyman said.
Mr Eastwood said it was not helpful for political leaders to simply dismiss the proposals as unacceptable. He called on all parties to be cautious “as to the language they use and tactics they employ”.
“I don’t think it is a good idea for Peter Robinson or anyone else to come out with the rhetoric he came out with yesterday,” he said.
“I would prefer that people stay in the room and work through this to get a deal done before Christmas because I think that is very possible. We, as elected representatives, owe it to the people of Northern Ireland to reach agreement on these long standing issues.
“The most important thing for us to remember is that, throughout all the difficulties in Northern Ireland, a lot of people suffered and a lot of people continue to suffer today. It is very important that we create a pathway to truth for victims without, at the same time, blocking the pathway to justice.
“The simple fact is that we need to find solutions to the problems of the past. The flags and parades issues are very important but are symptoms of our failure to deal with problems in the past.”