LONDON (AP) — All-night talks have failed to produce an accord in Northern Ireland on key issues including the use of flags and parades which are causes of continuing disputes between Protestants and Catholics.
The talks chaired by U.S. peace envoy Richard Haass broke up early Tuesday morning without success. Haass said a working group of the five main political parties will now look for other ways to move the process forward. He said progress had been made toward a substantive agreement.
"What I believe what we have done is laid down solid enough foundation stones," said Haass.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said the failure to reach agreement was disappointing and called for continued effort from Northern Ireland's political parties to break the deadlock.
"Although it is disappointing the parties have not been able to reach full agreement at this stage, these talks have achieved much common ground, providing a basis for continuing discussions," he said.
Catholics and Protestants have clashed over the issues of Protestant loyalist parades, a traditional Northern Ireland flashpoint, and when and where to fly British or Irish flags — a symbolic issue that has sparked repeated bouts of rioting in Belfast.
Six months of negotiations were supposed to have secured an agreement before Christmas, but Haass had extended the deadline for talks.