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Irish language act was only 'tertiary' element in Haass talks

Richard Haass said an Irish language act did not play a significant part in the 2013 talks that he chaired alongside Meghan O'Sullivan. Picture by Alan Lewis

RICHARD Haass has said an Irish language act did not feature significantly in negotiations he chaired between Stormont's parties in 2013.

Mr Haass and Professor Meghan O'Sullivan spent months trying to broker a deal on parades, flags and legacy but the talks broke up without agreement on New Year's Eve after unionists rejected the proposals.

The current political impasse has centred on a demand for legislation to protect and promote the Irish language, an issue dating back to the St Andrews Agreement in 2006.

Sinn Féin and other parties have called for a standalone act, while unionists remain opposed.

But according to the former special envoy, an Irish language act did not play a major part in the 2013 negotiations.

"It was not a central element, not even secondary – it was tertiary," Mr Haass told The Irish News.

"The principal themes when I was involved were the past, marching, emblems and flags – since then it's obviously bubbled up."

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