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Peace talks as Ulster prepares for marches

Northern Ireland's political leaders are set for an intensive push to make progress on outstanding peace process issues ahead of the summer marching season.

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness intend to convene two separate three-day blocks of talks with representatives of the five parties in the powersharing executive on parades, flags and the toxic legacy of the Troubles.

The renewed attempt comes six months after marathon negotiations chaired by former US diplomat Richard Haass ended without agreement and only weeks before the oft-volatile Loyal Order parading season gets into full swing.

No firm dates have been set for the fresh rounds of talks, but it is understood the parties have been asked to submit the names of their negotiating teams by tomorrow.

While Sinn Fein and the SDLP wanted to implement a blueprint that emerged from the Haass process, the DUP and Ulster Unionists have demanded significant changes.

The Alliance Party wants the plan implemented but wishes to make what, it insists, are necessary changes as it goes through legislative stages at Stormont.

Draft proposals outlined by Dr Haass remain on the table, but efforts to strike a deal in his absence have made little progress.

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