Positive that all party talks have now intensified

It was about time that the Talks process was intensified. Such intensification is necessary if we are to come to a comprehensive and decisive agreement.

Today the parties focused on the Past. The SDLP were very clear with the other parties and with the British and Irish Governments that any roll back from the final Haass document, known as Haass 7 would not be acceptable.

It is essential that the needs of victims remain at the heart of how we deal with the Past. The voices of victims and survivors were definitive during the Haass negotiations and their good authority shaped the discussions and outcomes.

If we fail to deal comprehensively with the Past the Past will deal with us. Concerns, anxieties and difficult and distressing information and cases will continue to emerge on a piecemeal basis and this will cause instability both within the Executive and wider politics, never mind the distress caused to victims, survivors their families and communities.

This Talks process is giving us the opportunity to deal with the Past comprehensively and decisively. We must not squander that opportunity.

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