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24 March 2014
Sources close to the investigation said it was “far from over” and that detectives want more information on anyone suspected of involvement in the murder, including Mr Adams.
The Sinn Fein president strongly denies any involvement in the Belfast mother of 10’s abduction and death in 1972.
The PSNI is also seeking to question former IRA man turned writer Anthony McIntyre about his Boston College interviews with ex-Provisionals on Ms McConville’s murder.
As the interviewer for the US university’s oral history project, Mr McIntyre’s evidence would be crucial in the case against Bell – and any other alleged former IRA leaders who may in future be charged with involvement.
Belfast Magistrates Court heard on Saturday that Bell was an interviewee in one of the tapes and was known as ‘Man Z’ – something which Bell denies.
The 77-year-old is charged with IRA membership and aiding and abetting in the murder of Jean McConville.
Other alleged former IRA members are expected to be arrested in coming weeks by detectives – who have in their possession tapes of seven republicans, who are all still alive, allegedly discussing the McConville killing.
It is understood the PSNI wants to question Mr McIntyre about Bell’s alleged interview and the conditions in which it took place, in order to corroborate the claims allegedly made on the tape.
Mr McIntyre would also be quizzed as to whether Bell was ‘Man Z’.
However, sources said there were “absolutely no circumstances” in which Mr McIntyre would co-operate with police.
Refusal to do so could result in him facing charges of withholding information – but the sources said he would “go to jail rather than compromise source protection”.
Mr McIntyre is a member of the National Union of Journalists and the issue is to be raised with the union this week.
The ex-IRA man has previously said he has “every sympathy with the McConville family in their search for truth recovery” – but added that “journalists, academics, and researchers need protection if they are to gain the necessary information which offers a valuable insight into the past”.
As the lead researcher for the Belfast project for Boston College between 2001 and 2006, Mr McIntyre conducted over 170 interviews with 26 republicans. They were undertaken on the agreement that they wouldn’t be released until after the interviewee’s death.
Tapes of now-deceased IRA members Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes – who both accused Gerry Adams of ordering Jean McConville’s murder – were handed over to the PSNI by Boston College.
However, a major legal battle followed over the taped interviews of republicans who are still alive.
By Nic Robertson and Ken Shiffman
25 May 2012
Editor’s note: Watch how Northern Ireland’s dark past could threaten the peace process as victims look for closure from tapes made by former combatants on both sides of the sectarian divide. “World’s Untold Story” on CNN International at 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET on Saturday May 26, or Sunday at 6 a.m. ET.
Belfast, Northern Ireland (CNN) — Audio recordings locked inside a college library in the United States might help solve a decades-old murder mystery, but the release of those tapes could damage the fragile peace in Northern Ireland.
In December 1972, the widow Jean McConville was taken from her home in Belfast and her 10 children.
“They came about tea time and they dragged her out of the bathroom and dragged her out,” remembers McConville’s daughter, Helen McKendry, who was then a teenager.
Ever since, McKendry has been on a 40-year quest for answers.
“All I ever wanted was to know the reason why they killed my mother,” McKendry explained.
“I’ve lived all my life in fear,” McKendry added. “They destroyed my mother’s life, my family life.”
McKendry believes tapes locked away in Boston College’s library may hold the truth about her mother’s fate. But there are fears that the tapes may also cause embarrassment or worse for Gerry Adams, the prominent Catholic politician who helped broker peace in Northern Ireland.
The recordings were made as part of the Belfast Project, which is a collection of interviews conducted with former Northern Irish paramilitary fighters. They provide an oral history of the decades of sectarian fighting that became known as The Troubles.
Northern Ireland is part of Britain and Protestant fighters wanted to keep it that way. Catholics were fighting to force the British out and reunify the north with the rest of Ireland.
The former combatants believed that their recorded interviews would be kept secret until their death. But that may no longer be possible as Northern Irish police are asking the United States government to hand over some of the tapes.
The police say they were alerted to the secret archive by the book, “Voices from the Grave,” written by Belfast Project archive manager Ed Moloney, which is based on transcripts from two of the recorded interviews. One of those featured is Brendan Hughes, a now-deceased former commander of the Irish Republican Army or IRA, a Catholic paramilitary.
Hughes told his interviewer: “I have never, ever, ever admitted being a member of the IRA, ever. I’ve just done it here.”
And he talked about Jean McConville’s murder, stating: “I knew she was being executed. I knew that. I didn’t know she was going to be buried or disappeared as they call them now.”
Hughes went on to allege Gerry Adams was involved: “The special squad was brought into the operation then, called The Unknowns. You know when anyone needed to be taken away they normally done it. I had no control over this squad. Gerry had control over this particular squad.”
Hughes added he regretted what happened: “Looking back on it now, what happened to the woman was wrong.”
Hughes said in his taped interview, McConville was killed because the IRA believed she was working with the British army. The McKendrys do not believe she was a spy, saying she was too busy looking after her 10 children to be an informer.
Gerry Adams, leader of Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein party, refused to be interviewed by CNN for this story. But, he has said many times before that he was never in the IRA and never involved in the death of Jean McConville, and has labeled as libelous any allegation he was involved in the McConville murder. His spokesman goes further, labeling Adams’ critics as anti the peace process.
Adams’ denial of IRA membership angers his old comrades like Hughes. “It means that people like myself had to carry the responsibility of all those deaths,” Hughes said on the interview tape. “Gerry was a major, major player in the war and yet he’s standing there denying it.”
The Northern Irish police vow to “follow the material in the Boston Archives all way to court if that’s where it takes them … they say detectives have a legal responsibility to investigate murders … and follow all lines of inquiry.”
The British government’s most senior politician on Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson told CNN that no one person is above the law.
“There can be no concept on amnesty, so we have to support the police to have complete operational independence in pursuing every line of inquiry in bringing those who committed crimes to justice,” Paterson said.
Right now the Boston archive manager, Ed Moloney, is furious with Boston College for initially giving in too quickly to subpoena’s demanding they hand over some of the tapes to a U.S. judge. He says it puts lives in danger, damages the future of truth recovery, oral histories and academic research.
Moloney — who is appealing to try to stop the court from handing the tapes it has to police — wants the tapes handed back to the people who told their stories.
“Boston College is no longer a fit and proper place to keep these interviews,” Moloney insists. “The archives should be closed down, and the interviews should be returned to the people who gave them because they’re not safe.”
But there seems to be little chance of that, Boston College’s spokesman Jack Dunn blames Moloney.
“From the beginning, we said to the project organizer, who approached us with this idea, that there were limitations regarding the assurances of confidentiality under American law,” Dunn said.
But what worries Moloney is that if the police get tapes relating to Jean McConville’s murder, they could quickly find other crimes to investigate implicating more political leaders and the police could soon demand all the tapes in the archive.
Few believe the police will get Adams to court in part because he is inoculated from prosecution by his central role silencing IRA guns and delivering peace, and in part because the tapes alone cannot secure a conviction.
Former IRA man Richard O’Rawe recorded a statement for the Boston College archives and says lawyers told him under UK law the tapes cannot be used in court.
“I find it just imponderable, why the police are going down this road when they must know that there is no chance of obtaining any convictions at the end of this,” O’Rawe says.
Like many other Catholics, O’Rawe thinks the police are biased against them, trying to settle old scores and bring Adams and others down. But for Helen McKendry, herself a Catholic getting access to the tapes is about so much more.
For her, it’s not only about justice but a release from the pain of never knowing the truth.
“They tried to destroy what life I have now,” she says. “They are the people who committed the crimes in this. They should be worried.”
By DENISE LAVOIE
3 Apr 2012
BOSTON (AP) — An attempt by British investigators to get recorded interviews with former members of the Irish Republican Army has turned into a complicated court battle. And for Carrie Twomey, the legal fight is personal.
She’s the wife of Anthony McIntyre, a former gunman for the IRA who conducted the interviews for an oral history project at Boston College. Twomey has played a key role in trying to sway U.S. politicians that turning over the recordings could endanger her family.
“This isn’t just some dusty old papers in a library,” Twomey says. “This is people’s lives. This is my family.”
Twomey has managed to get backing from some powerful people. Seven U.S. politicians, including Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Charles Schumer of New York, have written letters to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urging them to persuade British authorities to withdraw their request for the recordings.
McIntyre and Irish journalist Ed Moloney, who directed the project, are asking a federal appeals court to block the handover. Arguments are scheduled Wednesday before the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.
The history project, which began in 2001 and was completed in 2006, is intended as a resource for journalists, scholars and historians after the death of the participants. But Northern Ireland police probing the IRA’s 1972 killing of a Belfast woman want access to the interviews for their investigation.
Moloney says the recordings are explosive enough to damage Northern Ireland’s unity government, in which Sinn Fein represents the Irish Catholic minority. Its stable coalition with the British Protestant majority is the central achievement of the 1998 U.S.-brokered peace accord.
Moloney has said that the interviewees include many IRA colleagues of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and that public release of the testimony could lead to a victims’ lawsuit against Adams, the conflict’s leading guerrilla-turned-peacemaker.
Twomey worries her husband and other former IRA members could be attacked or killed if the recordings are turned over and then used in prosecutions. Some in Ireland have already branded her husband as a “tout,” an informer, because of his role in the Boston College project, she says.
“My husband isn’t an informer, nor are the people who participated in this project — it’s a history project — but police using it as evidence, that changes it dramatically and makes it very dangerous,” says Twomey, 41.
“Traditionally, the penalty for informing is death.”
Twomey grew up in southern California. She met her husband about 12 years ago after reading critical commentary he had published on the way the peace process was being managed and wrote him a letter. They’ve been married for almost 10 years and have two children, an 11-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy.
McIntyre spent 17 years in prison for killing a Protestant militant in a 1976 drive-by shooting.
The couple initially lived in West Belfast but moved to the south five years ago when McIntyre found a job in construction in Drogheda. McIntyre, who left the IRA when the 1998 Good Friday agreement was signed, said their neighbor’s house in Drogheda was smeared with pig excrement in 2010, after portions of the memoir of former IRA member Brendan Hughes — one of the people McIntyre interviewed — were published in a British newspaper.
The vandals probably meant to send him a threatening message but got the wrong address, McIntyre says.
“Carrie wasn’t involved in the project, nor were our children,” McIntyre says. “Her fear and my fear, too, would be the morphing of research into evidence substantially changes the ballgame and would open up the possibility of an attack.”
Twomey’s husband is not allowed to travel to the United States because of his IRA conviction. So for the past three months, she has shuttled between the United States and Ireland, hoping to pressure the U.S. government to drop the bid to turn the recordings over to Northern Ireland police investigating the IRA’s killing of Jean McConville, a mother of 10 who had been branded as a British Army spy by the IRA.
Kerry and other U.S. politicians say they are concerned that release of the recordings could undermine peace in Northern Ireland.
“It would be a tragedy if this process were to upset the delicate balance that has kept the peace and allowed for so much progress in the past fourteen years,” Kerry wrote in his Jan. 23 letter.
Prosecutors declined to talk about the case before Wednesday’s hearing.
In an interview in January, Assistant U.S. Attorney John McNeil said American authorities must provide IRA testimony about McConville’s killing to British authorities as part of treaty commitments to aid each other’s criminal investigations.
“The UK is investigating serious crimes: murder, kidnapping, McNeil said. “The court has already found that it’s a bona fide investigation and that there’s no other source for this material.”
McIntyre and Moloney say Boston College promised the interview subjects strict confidentiality until their deaths, while Boston College officials say they made it clear they would protect the confidentiality only to the extent allowed under U.S. law.
Boston College initially tried to quash subpoenas from U.S. prosecutors seeking the recordings but later decided not to appeal a judge’s order to turn over the interviews of convicted car bomber Delours Price. The same judge dismissed a separate lawsuit by Moloney and McIntyre.
Spokesman Jack Dunn said Boston College decided not to appeal because Price had given a widely distributed newspaper interview in which she implicated herself and Adams in McConville’s abduction and murder. Adams has denied that.
By Jude Collins
19 Jan 2012
So – what do you make of this Boston tapes thing, eh? You know the project: journalist Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre got together and arranged interviews with a number of former republican and loyalist combatants in our Troubles.
These were recorded and lodged with Boston College, with the promise that they’d not see the light of day until the interviewee was dead. And so, for a time, it proved. When Brendan Hughes died, Ed Moloney wrote a book in which his recorded testimony featured prominently. A lot of republicans were very unhappy with it, because Hughes essentially claimed, among other things, that over half the hunger-strikers in 1981 should not have died and it was all Sinn Féin’s fault. What couldn’t be disputed was that Moloney had kept his promise to Hughes, that nothing would be revealed until he had died.
But now, hard though it is to believe, all bets are off. The US government has laid legal claim to the tapes and may pass them to the PSNI. The assurances of confidentiality have melted away like snow off last year’s ditch.
Anthony McIntyre was on BBC Radio Ulster/Raidio Uladh on Sunday and made a number of references to the collation of the tapes as “research”. An odd term for the project. As Anthony probably knows, one of the basic building blocks in research is the choice of sample. For example, if you were in the US right now and you got a sample of 30 people to fill in a questionnaire about the race for the White House, the value of your “research” would depend, among other things, on who the 30 people were who filled in the questionnaire. If you’d chosen your 30 because you knew they detested black people in general and Barack Obama in particular, your sample would be skewed and your research worthless. It might be a powerful piece of propaganda but it wouldn’t be research. From what I hear – and I’ll be happy to hear otherwise, if anyone knows – the Boston interviews were conducted with people who, if they didn’t detest Sinn Féin in general and Gerry Adams in particular, were – how shall I say? – some way from supportive of them. If that generally-accepted fact is true, then don’t call it research. Use another word.
Two other points. First, on Sunday’s radio programme, McIntyre conceded that he and Moloney had made an error of judgement in not taking legal advice about their and Boston College’s ability to control these tapes. That I find astonishing. In their shoes, wouldn’t you have worn out your knuckles hammering on the door of the smartest lawyer in town before embarking on a project so controversial? It’s equally astonishing that the people who agreed to be interviewed didn’t first say, “Mr Moloney, Mr McIntyre, show me the legal document that guarantees my words will be kept under lock and key for my lifetime, would you?” If they didn’t, they were very gullible. If they did… I’m stumped there. If they did, what answer were they given? And did the people giving the answer know what they were talking about?
Second point. Anthony McIntyre claimed that if the tapes fall into the hands of the PSNI, his life would be in danger; Danny Morrison speaking on the same programme, said it won’t. I don’t know who’s right, but I do recall an occasion some eight years ago, when I wrote a piece for the Daily Ireland newspaper in which I was critical of Anthony McIntyre. Shortly afterwards I got a long, hostile email from Moloney in New York, accusing me of – you guessed it – putting Anthony McIntyre’s life in danger. I considered the charge daft and time has proved me right. In making up your mind whether McIntyre’s life would be in danger this time, it might be important not to listen to Ed Moloney.
• Jude Collins blogs at www.judecollins.com
8 Jan 2012
A man who conducted the interviews into the Boston Project has said he fears for his and his family’s safety.
One of the men who conducted interviews for the Boston College ‘Belfast Project’ archive has said he fears for his safety and that of his family after the college handed over the archive to a US Federal Court at the request of the British authorities.
Anthony McIntyre said he fears “revenge” attacks on his home and he said he also has concerns for the safety of the people he interviewed if the details of what they discussed or their identities enter the public domain.
Boston College gave the archive to a federal judge, which could result in much of the material being handed over to British Authorities.
The archive contains dozens of interviews with republican paramilitaries.
Mr McIntyre told RTÉ’s This Week that the actions of Boston College and the British authorities in seeking the information has increased the level of risk to him, his family and the interviewees.
It is thought British authorities are seeking the material as part of an investigation into the disappearance and murder of Jean McConville.
Mr McIntyre said he and Ed Maloney regret their involvement in the project because of the danger it has placed the interviewees in.
He said that whilst the project was worthwhile, Boston College was not the institution with which to pursue it.
Mr McIntyre said he would not be co-operating with any investigation into what may arise out of the archive being released to British authorities.
He said he would rather go to jail than abdandon his sources who had agreed to be interviewed for the project.
In an affidavit seen by RTÉ News, the head of the Irish Institute at Boston College, Prof Thomas Hachey, said he was told by the US Consul General in Belfast not to travel to Northern Ireland last October.
Prof Hachey was due to attend a Stormont reception but officials said his safety could be at risk “in the present environment”.
Boston College Spokesperson Jack Dunn has told RTÉ that the College fought the court order in so far as it could.
He said it hoped that Federal Judge William Young would only release interviews with republican interviewee Delours Price and no other material.
He said that the college wished that the project could have been maintained as an archive but a subpoena issued by a federal court meant that was not possible.
Mr Dunn said that the Government, through the federal court, refuted the contention of Anthony McIntyre and Ed Maloney that they would be at risk if the archive was given to British authorities.
The Boston College spokesperson said it tried to protect the archive and had “fought the fight and the fight was lost”.
By Liam Clarke
4 January 2012
**Poster’s note: I have a simple question: Why should the truth of the Troubles be covered up? Who gives anyone the right to keep silent when they know such things? The whole premise of this project is faulty as far as I am concerned. First we have the originators going on about how sacrosanct these oral histories are. Now they want them destroyed so the information contained in them will not get out. What and who does this remind you of?
A controversial US project which contains the testimonies of Troubles era terrorists should now be wound up, according to the men who founded it.
The three men involved in the oral history project have said Boston College’s decision to hand over material to the US authorities after requests from the PSNI has betrayed the trust of those involved.
Investigative journalist Ed Moloney is the former director of the project that aimed to document the conflict through the eyes of those involved.
Dr Anthony McIntyre interviewed former IRA members, while Wilson McArthur spoke to former loyalist paramilitaries for the archive under promise of confidentiality until death.
They said: “We are, all three of us, now strongly of the view that the archive must now be closed down and the interviews be either returned or shredded since Boston College is no longer a safe nor fit and proper place for them to be kept.
“We made a pledge to our interviewees to protect them to the utmost of our ability and we will stand by that pledge firmly and unalterably.”
All three are bitterly resentful of Boston College for releasing incriminating tapes, transcripts and DVDs without exhausting all possible legal channels.
The material was requested by the British Government on behalf of the PSNI after a Historical Enquiries Team review of the murder and secret burial of Jean McConville by the IRA in 1972.
Mr Moloney and Mr McIntyre have now won a stay of execution while the American courts consider whether to hand the tapes over to US attorneys, who will give it to the British.
They are arguing that doing so would endanger the researchers’ lives and impact on the peace process.
They also believe it could breach laws which prohibit the extradition of people accused of Troubles era offences from the US.
William ‘Plum’ Smith and Winston Rea, two former loyalist prisoners, have already said that they want their testimonies back.
However, the Belfast Telegraph has learned that Boston College has already handed the entire archive over to the US courts to decide what is relevant to the McConville investigation.
“I was appalled,” Mr Moloney said.
“The college was asked for relevant material and said that the librarian had not read it. So the court got everything.”
He hit out at Boston College for not going far enough to protect the material in his view.
“Implicit in the pledge of confidentiality was that it was non-negotiable,” he said.
“Boston College therefore had a duty to fight to preserve it to the utmost, in effect to challenge any adverse legal decisions all the way up the legal chain, as far as the Supreme Court if necessary.
“BC’s failure to appeal in my mind robs the college of any moral right to hold on to the archive.”
Boston College Belfast Project controversy …
Your questions answered.
Q What is Boston College’s ‘Belfast Project’?
A The archive contains the testimonies of around 30 former Northern Ireland terrorists in which they recounted their careers in the belief that it would not be made public until after their deaths.
The project was an initiative of journalist Ed Moloney and Lord Bew, a Queen’s University professor of history.
It was funded by Boston College and is housed in the college’s Thomas Burns Library.
The republican interviews were carried out by Dr Anthony McIntyre, a former IRA prisoner, while Wilson McArthur carried out the loyalist interviews.
Mr Moloney also carried out some video interviews, for instance with the former IRA bomber Dolours Price, which were not formally part of the archive.
Q Why is it in the news at all?
A Boston College has handed over parts of the archive relating to the murder of Jean Mc Conville to US attorneys acting, ultimately, on a warrant issued by the PSNI.
Mrs McConville was a west Belfast mother-of-10 abducted, murdered and secretly buried by the IRA in 1972 on suspicion of being an informer.
The material handed over included the testimony of Brendan ‘the Dark’ Hughes, a local IRA commander now dead, and Dolours Price, an IRA activist at the time.
Both accuse Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, of involvement in the planning of the murder and the decision to secretly bury her, though Mr Adams has consistently denied this, just as he denies ever being in the IRA. He says Mr Hughes was a friend and fellow republican, nothing more.
Q Wasn’t it meant to be confidential?
A Dr Mc Intyre said: “People spoke frankly to me on the strict understanding that nothing they said would be revealed in their lifetimes without their written authorisation. I wouldn’t have been involved without legal assurances.”
Interviewers and interviewees signed an undertaking not to “disclose to third parties the existence of the project without the permission of the sponsor”.
Q How did the news leak out?
A There were rumours about the project when the interviews were being carried out.
After Brendan Hughes, the IRA leader, and David Ervine, a loyalist politician and former UVF bomber, died Mr Moloney wrote a book entitled Voices From The Grave based on their testimonies.
Later, Dolours Price gave an interview in which she revealed that she had made a tape which was in the archive.
Q Who could be affected by this?
A If reports of the contents of the archive are correct, then Gerry Adams and others could face police questioning.
2 Jan 2012
Today’s Belfast Telegraph splash headline, “Fury as IRA tapes turned over” (not online) follows a piece in yesterday’s Irish edition of the Sunday Times, “Tale of the tapes” (behind a paywall).
Yet the story deserves wide readership by journalists and journalism academics because of its ethical ramifications.
As so often with matters related to the Northern Ireland conflict it is complicated to unravel, not least because of the underlying politics.
Let’s begin at the end, so to speak. A federal judge in the United States has ordered Boston College to surrender taped interviews with an ex-IRA member, Dolours Price.
She was one of 26 former IRA volunteers to give a series of interviews – between 2001 and 2006 – as part of a research study, called the Belfast Project.
The interviewees, who signed confidentiality agreements, were given an assurance that the tapes would not be released until after their deaths.
What they were not told is that there was no guarantee that the interviews could be protected from court orders. Boston College would have to comply with the law.
It is thought that many of the interviewees who, naturally, have many secrets to tell, were unusually candid about their activities on behalf of the republican movement.
Even so, as one would expect, there was no assurance that they were telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. They did not speak under oath.
It means that some may have made allegations about named, living people being guilty of criminal offences. None of these accusations were able to be independently verified by the researchers.
The interviewees could, in effect, say what they liked about anyone. That is not to devalue oral histories as such, but given the nature of a conflict in which so many people were killed in secret operations in what everyone regards as having been a “dirty war”, the project was bound to be of questionable merit.
The 26 probably had different reasons for giving interviews. Some may simply have wanted to get things off their chests. Some may have regarded it as a valuable historical academic exercise. Some, motivated by malice, may have wished to settle accounts with the former IRA leadership they now despise.
Price, for example, was a noted critic of the peace process and, particularly, of one of its main architects, the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.
Similarly, so were two of the project’s key participants and interviewers – the journalist Ed Moloney and a former republican prisoner, Anthony McIntyre.
That very salient fact has not gone unnoticed. See, for instance, Danny Morrison’s pieces – ‘Baloney College Archive’ and ‘Why the Boston College Irish oral history project should be discontinued’ – in which he points to the political bias of Moloney and McIntyre.
He finds it blackly ironic that the two men, having created the project, are now screaming about the US court’s decision.
They have been critical of Boston College for its willingness to comply with the court order. However, some US academics have been just as critical of the researchers, arguing that it was, at best, naive and, at worst, manipulative, to give interviewees a guarantee of confidentiality.
One quoted by the Sunday Times – John Neuenschwander, professor of history at Carthage College in Wisconsin – said: “You need to alert the people who you seal the interview for that you may not be able to prevent it from being picked up by a subpoena and going to court.”
The drama began when Price told a Belfast newspaper that she had been involved in the “disappearance” of several IRA victims, including Jean McConville, and – in so doing – incriminated Adams.
The Northern Ireland police (PSNI) decided to act, and the British government agreed. It began a legal action in the States to order Boston College to surrender the Price interview tapes and any others relevant to the murder of McConville.
Leaving aside the obvious dispute about the motives of Moloney and McIntyre in obtaining the interviews and whether they acted properly, the case raises a hugely important question about the validity of academics giving people guarantees of confidentiality in order to persuade them to speak.
It touches directly on the problem all journalists face in protecting confidential sources and, in my opinion, we journalists ought to condemn both the British government for pursuing the action and the US judge for acceding to its request.
By Jim Dee
Saturday, 31 December 2011
Initiated in 2001 as a collaborative process between Belfast-based researchers and Boston College Irish studies experts, Boston College’s Belfast Project oral history endeavour raised hackles from the outset.
Belfast-based author Danny Morrison was among the most vocal early critics.
The former Sinn Fein publicity officer accused the project’s overseer, Boston College historian Thomas Hachey, of running a politically-biased project because its two main co-ordinators – journalist Ed Moloney and former IRA member Anthony McIntyre – were critics of Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein’s peace process strategy.
Both reject claims that they pursued an anti-Adams agenda.
The only interviews yet to see the light of day were published in the Moloney-edited book Voices From The Grave (2010), in which former UVF prisoner David Ervine and former IRA man Brendan Hughes, both deceased, were interviewed extensively.
Those taped interviews included a claim by Hughes that Adams ordered the 1972 killing of mother-of-10 Jean McConville – a claim Adams has repeatedly denied.
The current effort to obtain the Belfast Project’s interviews with Dolours Price began when a Belfast newspaper published an interview with her last February in which she claimed that Adams had been her IRA commanding officer, and that he’d ordered Mrs McConville killed and secretly buried. In May the US Justice Department served Boston College a subpoena on behalf of the British Government demanding the surrender of all interview material relating to McConville. However, the former republican and loyalist paramilitaries who took part in the Belfast project were assured their interviews wouldn’t be published until after they died.
Two weeks ago a US judge rejected an effort by Moloney and McIntyre to have the case dismissed.
On Tuesday, the college was ordered to surrender its interviews with Dolours Price by yesterday. It indicated that it would.
31 Dec 2011
An appeals court in Boston yesterday blocked the release to US prosecutors of interviews former IRA member Dolours Price gave an oral history project at Boston College after a researcher said that he and his family in Ireland would be in danger if the interviews were made public.
Acting on a last-minute legal intervention by author and journalist Ed Moloney, who directed the project, and Anthony McIntyre, the writer and former IRA prisoner who interviewed former IRA members for it, the First Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay and scheduled a hearing for Friday. It put on hold the order that the college give records to prosecutors seeking them for British authorities.
By Anne Madden
Friday, 30 December 2011
Jean McConville (left) with three of her children before she was abducted and killed by the IRA in 1972. Her body was found in 2003. (Photograph: PA)
An American university has until today to hand over recorded interviews with a former IRA member to assist the investigation into the murder of Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville.
Boston College was ordered by a federal judge to turn over recordings, transcripts and other items related to Dolours Price to federal prosecutors in Boston.
The material which was collected for the Belfast Project, an oral history project about the Troubles, was subpoenaed on behalf of the British Government.
Judge William Young of the federal court in Boston noted in his ruling earlier this week that a treaty between the USA and the UK requires the two nations to share information relevant to ongoing criminal investigations.
Boston College said it is disappointed by Judge Young’s ruling, arguing it “could have a chilling effect because people could be reluctant to participate in oral history projects moving forward”.
The Belfast Project’s organisers, which included author Ed Moloney and former IRA prisoner Anthony McIntyre, had promised their subjects they would keep identities and material confidential until the person had died.
The college is not appealing the decision. Prosecutors had asserted in court filings that the material sought is relevant to a probe into Mrs McConville’s death. She disappeared in 1972. Her body was found in 2003.
The IRA said it killed McConville because she was suspected of being an informer.
Price and another former IRA member, Brendan Hughes, have said that her abduction, execution and burial was ordered by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.
According to court documents, Price admitted in news reports in Northern Ireland that she had driven the abducted McConville to the place of her murder.
Mr Adams, who was elected TD for Louth earlier this year, has repeatedly denied the allegations that he ordered the killing.
A Sinn Fein spokesman said it had no comment to make.
“It doesn’t concern Sinn Fein at all,” he said. “It is a matter between Anthony McIntyre, Ed Moloney, the PSNI and Boston College.”
However, DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he welcomed the finding of the court, adding it is up to police alone to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to bring a public prosecution.
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Police believe the material held by Boston College will assist an ongoing investigation into the 1972 abduction and murder of Belfast woman Jean McConville. The US federal judge who made the decision, William G Young, ruled he will make further orders for the release of information from the oral history project of the Troubles.