The Belfast Telegraph opened its article on the return of Richard Haass thus:
It is often hard to believe that the peace process is two decades old, the Good Friday Agreement was forged 15 years ago and the power-sharing Executive, spawned by the St Andrews Agreement, has six years under its belt.
And that, more or less, is my problem with it.
The Exectuive and the Assembly have had their grace period. People expect their 108 MLAs to deliver. Trite words, but there frequently seems scant evidence of real action,and real decision making, ultimately lending the whole affair the “glorified county council” vibe.
The return of Richard Haass, whatever he may have achieved last time out, hardly excites the public. It could be argued I suppose that the process and structures set up to resolve the marching issue won’t excite the public either, merely the outcome. That could be true.
For my money though the return of Richard Haass serves merely to make the Executive feel special again, that a Special Envoy holding their hands will enable them to make the leap from their ministerial cars to a marching solution.
I think it’s a sign of a lack of leadership. More than that, it’s especially weak from Sinn Fein. they shouldn’t entertain the notion that there is an issue that required outside help to resolve, to deal broker between warring factions. They should lay out their support for the Parades Commission, when dialogue fails (or doesn’t even occur). The marching problem isn’t society’s problem, there’s a right and a wrong, there’s consensus and agreed parades, or there’s a statutory body.
A meeting with Richard Haass implies Orangeism has a legitimate leg to stand on. In this case, it doesn’t.