I met with Richard Haass in New York last week to discuss his work and the issues that he has been asked to address by the Northern Ireland Executive. The meeting followed an earlier conversation with him on 13 September last. Our discussions provided a valuable opportunity to hear his considered view on the talks process and to get his assessment of the way forward. I had met the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on 23 September, and I stressed to him that both governments are determined to maintain and build on all the hard-won progress which has been achieved in Northern Ireland and that Richard Haass and Meghan O’Sullivan and their team have the full support of the Government in the task that lies ahead.
Following my visit to Belfast on 29 August, I was particularly glad to hear of the wide process of consultation with civic society undertaken by Dr Haass and Dr O’Sullivan. A broad spectrum of people, who are not part of the political process, need to be heard in relation to these difficult societal issues. Civil society has an important role to play in determining the best way forward. I look forward to close contact with Dr Haass and his team over the coming months, and I hope to welcome him to Dublin during his next round of discussions.