In his World Day of Peace homily at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, Cardinal Seán Brady said yesterday: “None of us can remain indifferent when talks aimed at resolving the issues of flags, parades and the past break down. Our brothers and sisters are involved.”
He continued: “We are grateful for the work of the negotiators. We owe it to them and to ourselves to consider carefully their proposals and work to secure a lasting solution. It is because they appreciate the value of peace, that so much hard work has been done.”
In a statement, Archbishop Richard Clarke of the Church of Ireland said he was “deeply disappointed” at the breakdown in talks but said “we still hope for future rapprochement”.
Praising “the huge efforts put in by Dr Richard Haass, Prof Meghan O’Sullivan and their team”, he said “we continue to pray that their careful groundwork will indeed come to valuable fruition in the future”.
The people of Northern Ireland “deserve a renewed and strenuous collaborative effort for an authentic peace from all those involved in its political processes”, he said.
British prime minister David Cameron said it was “disappointing” the five Stormont Executive parties had not reached “full agreement at this stage”. However, he added: “These talks have achieved much common ground, providing a basis for continuing discussions. I urge the parties to keep going.”
A White House statement said the Haass paper “represents real progress and makes a valuable contribution”.
“We urge Northern Ireland’s political leaders to continue to work together to build on this progress, including implementing the proposals where consensus already exists and as it emerges,” it said.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams called on the parties and the British and Irish governments to “embrace [the Haass proposals] as a significant step forward”.
“When the other parties and the two governments have had time to reflect on these, there must be a collective effort to find a way forward,” he said.
DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson thanked Dr Haass and Prof O’Sullivan for their efforts and insisted a “high level of agreement achieved can be built upon”.
“I detect from each of the parties a willingness to ‘work on’ to complete the task. We must consider how best to do this in the near future,” he said.
SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell said: “I am recommending general endorsement because of the strengths in the Haass-O’Sullivan proposals, most in evidence on how to deal with the past.”