Feeling optimistic this grey Tuesday morning? No, me neither. At the same time you’d like to think that Dr Haas would get off on the right foot at his up-coming flags/parades/the past talks.
Jim Allister is alert for any treachery (now who does that remind you of?):
“On parading and dealing with the past, Haass must not be allowed to become a conduit for reheating either the rejected Sinn Fein/DUP parading proposals or the Eames-Bradley report. Nor is there room for a unionist community, which has been required to give at every turn, to make further concessions in some trade-off to promote ‘the process’.”
Right. So progress for Jim will be ...no change. Or rather, no change that will in any way seem desirable to republicans. Others, like Chris Lyttle of the Alliance Party, say the talks will work “if there is meaningful engagement from all parties”.
I think Dr Dick faces an uphill challenge. But let’s assume that he actually pulls it off. Let’s assume he gets all parties to agree on some system for the flying of flags (note the plural there), marching and the past. The American miracle-worker gets into his coat and heads for the plane. Two weeks pass and Peter Robinson doesn’t like the way Martin McGuinness is looking at him and declares that in the circumstances, his party can’t possibly be asked to continue with the Haas Agreement.
Because it could happen. Hands up those who remember the Peace Centre agreement for the Long Kesh/Maze development? Right. Reassure us, please, Peter.