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Network Members’ Digital Exhibition

Spotlight artifact: Sharing Responsibility Document

(Transcript: William Mitchell, ACT Initiative)


“My name’s William Mitchell, project director of the ACT Initiative. At the ACT Initiative we have an exhibition that attempts to introduce our audience to some unseen or unheard material. One such piece of material is a document referred to as Sharing Responsibility.

This document was penned in Long Kesh in the mid-70s and modified on the outside by some key figures connected to the Progressive Unionist Party. In the early 80s, it was presented to James Prior as a potential end to the conflict and the way forward for this country.

Let me read some of the things that’s contained in the document. For example, they propose devolved legislation recognising two legitimate aspirations. A restructuring of the Assembly on proportional representation to include ministries linked to agriculture, tourism, fisheries, energy and environment. Once embedded, this would extend to security.

A committee system with Leader, Deputy and Speaker 10-15 member committees with elected chairs proportionally decided with oversight powers. A central committee inclusive of leader, deputy and committee chairs, cross-border bodies formed, mechanisms for the prevention against abuse of power, a bill of rights rooted in UN legislation and new financial arrangements. Once this settlement was agreed and embedded a political prisoner release scheme would be proposed.

If this document had have been accepted, according to this leading academic, Professor Tony Novosel from Pittsburgh University, “would have accomplished what the Good Friday Agreement did 12 years later and, in the process, saved many lives”.

Folks, you tell me that Sharing Responsibility isn’t the Good Friday Agreement.