You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Brendan Hughes’ tag.
04 May 2014
Gerry Adams, Madge McConville and former PIRA chief of staff Joe Cahill
Pat McGeown photographed beside Gerry Adams.
THIS is Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams with two members of the gang that dragged Jean McConville from her screaming children to be brutally beaten, murdered and disappeared.
Madge McConville (no relation to Jean) was the head of the women’s wing of the IRA in the lower Falls Road area at the time the widowed mother of 10 was murdered. She died in May 2009 and was eulogised by Sinn Fein as representing “what republicanism was about and … the embodiment of our history”.
The photograph was taken in January 2000 at a ceremony to mark the re-burial of Belfast IRA man Tom Williams, who was hanged in 1942 for the murder of RUC constable Patrick Murphy. Williams had been buried in the grounds of Crumlin Road Prison in Belfast after his execution. He was disinterred and re-buried in west Belfast, with Adams and Madge McConville as lead mourners.
In the other photo, Adams is alongside Pat McGeown who was also part of the gang that abducted Mrs McConville.
McGeown, who died in October 1996, was a 17-year-old member of the junior wing of the IRA at the time. He subsequently became a Sinn Fein councillor in Belfast.
McGeown and Adams are together with a group of Sinn Fein leaders after the count in the May 1996 elections to the Northern Ireland Peace Forum. Adams and McGeown were close associates and shared the same prison hut in the Long Kesh internment camp outside Belfast in the early Seventies.
Republican sources in west Belfast say it was the 17-year-old McGeown who shot Mrs McConville through the back of the head as she knelt in front of her burial site on Sheeling Beach in Co Louth.
On his death the Sinn Fein newspaper An Phoblacht reported McGeown “was a political prisoner in the infamous Cage 11 along with such notables as Gerry Adams and Brendan Hughes”.
Brendan Hughes was the first IRA man to publicly name Gerry Adams as his “officer commanding”, alleging that he was the one who gave the order for Mrs McConville’s murder and disappearance. Adams continues to deny this.
McGeown was one of the republican hunger strikers in the Maze Prison in 1981 and spent 47 days without food before it was called off. His period of starvation led to ill-health and his early death at the age of 44 from a heart attack. After his death, Sinn Fein launched a community endeavour award in his name and Adams described him as “a modest man with a quiet, but total dedication to equality and raising the standard of life for all the people of the city”.
Madge McConville was given the job of stopping young women fraternising with the British soldiers who were initially welcomed by Catholics after they stopped the invasions by loyalists mobs in the area.
The soldiers held discos in a factory they had commandeered as a barracks. Young Catholic women who were identified as attending the discos were abducted and beaten up. Several were also tied to lamp posts, their heads shaven, and covered in black paint and feathers in the same way French women deemed collaborators with the Nazis were tarred and feathered after the Allied invasion.
A decision was made not to kill any of the young Catholic women, many of whom were driven out of the area, because of their local family connections. But according to local sources, Mrs McConville was sentenced to death because she was a Protestant who had married a Catholic, Arthur, who had died in 1971 leaving her alone to bring up their 10 children. She had no family connections in the Falls area.
Mrs McConville was allegedly targeted because she gave a cup of water to a soldier who had been injured outside her maisonette in the Divis complex in the lower Falls. A gang of up to 20 male and female IRA members abducted and murdered her.
The intention of the IRA leadership was to ensure that there was no relationship between the local community and the soldiers or police. The tarring and featherings and finally the murder of Mrs McConville ensured this.
Sinn Féin leader says former friend Brendan Hughes was hostile to him over peace process
2 May 2014
Former IRA man Brendan “The Dark” Hughes, in Long Kesh prison with then best friend Gerry Adams. (Photograph: Photopress)
Some 3,600 people died in the Troubles. Many thousands more were maimed, injured and bereaved. Yet the circumstances of the murder of Jean McConville can still leave a cold feeling in the pit of one’s stomach.
She was a 37-year-old woman, a Protestant widow who had been married to a Catholic, and was the mother of 10 children who were left orphaned and desolate.
The campaign to recover her body, which was finally found on Shelling Hill beach in Co Louth in 2003, led to the creation of a North-South commission to locate the bodies of 17 people known to have been “disappeared”. So far 10 bodies have been recovered.
The so-called “Boston tapes”, potentially, are why Gerry Adams is being questioned for involvement in the December 1972 abduction, interrogation, murder and secret burial of McConville.
The Boston College oral history of the Troubles project was the brainchild of journalist and writer Ed Moloney and involved the interviewing of former republican and loyalist paramilitaries based on guarantees their testimonies would not be released until after their deaths.
The early deaths of former senior IRA figure Brendan “the Dark” Hughes and former Progressive Unionist Party leader and ex-UVF man David Ervine, both of whom participated in the project, allowed Moloney publish a book, Voices From the Grave, four years ago.
The book recorded Hughes’s account of how McConville was first lifted by the IRA, allegedly for working as an informer by having a British army transmitter in her flat.
Hughes said she was “let go with a warning” but when another transmitter allegedly was put in her house she was abducted by an IRA gang.
“There was only one man who gave the order for that woman to be executed. That . . . man is now the head of Sinn Féin,” said Hughes.
As this is posthumous evidence there is a heavy question mark over whether it can have much – or any – legal evidential value.
The McConville family and former Northern Ireland police ombudsman Nuala O’Loan rejected the informer allegation against McConville.
Regardless, in his account Hughes said Adams and a senior IRA commander agreed that she should be “executed” but argued over whether her body should be left on the street in west Belfast as a warning to potential informers – as regularly happened – or secretly buried.
Hughes said that Adams won the day, and it was decided she should be secretly buried.
“I think the reason why she [was] disappeared was because she was a woman,” Hughes said.
Adams emphatically denied the allegations, and made the point that Hughes, his former friend and an IRA member, was antagonistic both to him and to how the IRA and Sinn Féin had managed the peace process.
But then Old Bailey bomber, the late Dolours Price, who also gave evidence to the Boston College project, made similar allegations, which Adams again denied.
He also pointed out that she was also antagonistic to him and the peace process.
The result was a huge controversy over the PSNI seeking access to the Boston tapes, which could have proved of evidential value to the police investigation, certainly while Price was alive.
The police pursuit of the tapes caused consternation because handing them over would mean that the pledge given to participants of anonymity and non-disclosure ahead of their deaths would not be honoured.
It also triggered a quarrel between, on one side Moloney and his chief researcher Anthony McIntyre, a historian and former IRA prisoner; and on the other side Boston College over how to resist the legal challenge from the police.
They accused the college of weakness.
The upshot was that the PSNI won the legal battle and tapes of Hughes, Price and about half a dozen others were handed over to the police.
All these tapes, it was stated in the legal proceedings, had content relating to the McConville murder.
In recent weeks a number of people have been arrested in connection with the murder.
Some of them were released pending reports being sent to the Public Prosecution Service, which leaves open the possibility that prosecutions could follow.
In March, Ivor Bell, now aged 77, was charged with aiding and abetting the murder of McConville.
It was this charging that prompted Adams to offer to voluntarily present himself to the PSNI if it wished to ask him questions. Police sources in the North, along with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, First Minister Peter Robinson and British prime minister David Cameron, have rejected a Sinn Féin allegation of “political policing” in the questioning of Adams.
“The case is driven by investigative necessity,” said one police source.
In the meantime, the McConville family wait and watch to find out if they are any closer to achieving justice for their mother.
By SHAWN POGATCHNIK
30 April 2014
DUBLIN — Police in Northern Ireland arrested Sinn Fein party leader Gerry Adams on Wednesday over his alleged involvement in the Irish Republican Army’s 1972 abduction, killing and secret burial of a Belfast widow.
Adams, 65, confirmed his own arrest in a prepared statement and described it as a voluntary, prearranged interview.
Police long had been expected to question Adams about the killing of Jean McConville, a 38-year-old mother of 10 whom the IRA killed with a single gunshot to the head as an alleged spy.
According to all authoritative histories of the Sinn Fein-IRA movement, Adams served as an IRA commander for decades, but he has always denied holding any position in the outlawed group.
“I believe that the killing of Jean McConville and the secret burial of her body was wrong and a grievous injustice to her and her family,” Adams said. “Well publicized, malicious allegations have been made against me. I reject these. While I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will, I am innocent of any part in the abduction, killing or burial of Mrs. McConville.”
Reflecting the embarrassment associated with killing a widowed mother, the IRA did not admit the killing until 1999, when it claimed responsibility for nearly a dozen slayings of long-vanished civilians and offered to try to pinpoint their unmarked graves. McConville’s children had been told she abandoned them, and they were divided into different foster homes.
Her remains were discovered only by accident near a Republic of Ireland beach in 2003. The woman’s skull bore a single bullet mark through the back of the skull, and forensics officer determined she’d been shot once through back of the head with a rifle.
Jean McConville and children
Adams was implicated in the killing by two IRA veterans, who gave taped interviews to researchers for a Boston College history archive on the four-decade Northern Ireland conflict. Belfast police waged a two-year legal fight in the United States to acquire the interviews, parts of which already were published after the 2008 death of one IRA interviewee, Brendan Hughes.
Boston College immediately handed over the Hughes tapes. The college and researchers fought unsuccessfully to avoid handover tapes of the second IRA interviewee, Dolours Price, who died last year.
Both Hughes and Price agreed to be interviewed on condition that their contents were kept confidential until their deaths.
In his interviews Hughes, a reputed 1970s deputy to Adams within the Belfast IRA, said McConville was killed on Adams’ orders. Hughes said Adams oversaw a special IRA unit called “The Unknowns” that was committed to identifying, killing and secretly burying Belfast Catholic civilians suspected of spying on behalf of the police or British Army. An independent investigation by Northern Ireland’s police complaints watchdog in 2006 found no evidence that McConville had been a spy.
Hughes told the researchers he led the IRA team that “arrested” McConville, but her fate was sealed following a policy argument between Adams and the man he succeeded as Belfast commander, Ivor Bell.
He said Bell wanted McConville’s body to be put on public display to intimidate other people from helping the British, but Adams wanted her killing kept mysterious.
“There was only one man who gave the order for that woman to be executed,” Hughes said in the audio recording, which was broadcast on British and Irish television in 2010. “That man is now the head of Sinn Fein. I did not give the order to execute that woman. He did.”
A 2010 book written by the lead researcher, journalist Ed Moloney, “Voices From the Grave,” also quoted Hughes as describing Adams as the IRA’s “Belfast Brigade” commander who oversaw planning of the first car-bomb attacks in London in March 1973.
Adams and Hughes were arrested together in July 1973, when the British Army pounced on an IRA commanders’ meeting in West Belfast. Both were interned without trial. Adams was repeatedly interrogated for suspected involvement in IRA bombings and shootings, but was never convicted of any IRA offense besides a failed prison escape during his mid-1970s internment.
Last month Belfast detectives investigating the McConville killing arrested and charged Bell, now 77, with IRA membership and aiding McConville’s murder.
Price, who was a member of the IRA’s 1973 London car-bombing unit, died last year of a suspected drug overdose. She gave interviews to journalists admitting she had driven McConville across the Irish border, where another IRA member shot McConville once through the back of the head. It remains unclear what precisely she told the Boston College project.
Adams was the longtime British Parliament member for West Belfast, although like all Sinn Fein politicians he refused to take his seat in London, citing the required oath of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II.
He never held a post in Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government, the central peacemaking institution established in the wake of the Good Friday accord of 1998. He stepped down as West Belfast’s MP in 2011 and won election to the Republic of Ireland parliament, where he represents the same border area, County Louth, where McConville’s body was found.
Ivor Bell appears in court over 1972 murder of Jean McConville, in case which could implicate senior Irish republicans
22 March 2014
Even two decades after the IRA ceasefire, it is a crime from the bloodiest year of the Troubles that continues to haunt senior Irish republicans including Gerry Adams and could yet have fresh ramifications for the peace process.
In a sensational development inside a Belfast court it was alleged that a former IRA negotiator with the British government named fellow republicans involved in the kidnap, killing and secret burial of Jean McConville – one of the most notorious murders of the conflict.
The ex-IRA commander Ivor Bell appeared in Laganside court on Saturday morning where he faced charges of aiding and abetting in the shooting and disappearance of the mother of 10 in 1972.
Ivor Bell (BBC image)
The children and grandchildren of the murdered widow were in court to hear a detective allege that Bell was “Mr Z” on a tape recorded for Boston College in the US as part of the Belfast Project, a series of interviews with former IRA and loyalist paramilitaries.
Speaking outside the court, McConville’s daughter Helen McKendry told The Observer that she hoped the case would lead to others going on trial for her mother’s killing by the IRA.
“I hope this goes all the way up to the top,” she said, “All the way up to Gerry Adams. There are more people who need to be in this court to answer what happened to my mother.”
The McConville family, along with the former IRA Belfast commanding officer Brendan Hughes, have alleged that Adams created a secret unit to hunt down and kill informers in the city during the early part of the Troubles.
Before his death Hughes claimed that Adams gave the order for McConville to be abducted from her home in Divis Flats in west Belfast, taken across the Irish border, killed and buried in secret.
The Sinn Féin president has always denied any involvement in the McConville murder or that he was ever in the IRA.
It was alleged in court that in the recording, Bell implicates himself and other top republicans in the McConville case.
But his defence solicitor, Peter Corrigan, denied Bell had any involvement in the crime and said “the evidence was not credible”.
The recording for the Belfast Project, which the Police Service of Northern Ireland obtained through the US courts, is the centrepiece of the crown’s case against Bell.
His solicitor said Bell denied any involvement in the IRA murder of McConville.
Appealing for bail for his client, Corrigan stressed that Bell has not been a member of the Provisional IRA since 1985 and had no network around him to aid him to flee Northern Ireland. He told the judge that they would accept “any conditions that you see fit to impose on this defendant”.
However, there was light applause from the McConville family in court when the judge, Fiona Bagnall, refused bail.
McConville was the most famous of the “Disappeared” – 16 people whom the IRA accused of being informers and who were shot and buried secretly across Ireland.
The IRA only admitted her murder in 1993 and her body was not discovered until 2003 on a beach in County Louth. No one until today has ever been charged in connection with her murder.
The IRA accused her of passing information to the British army but her family always denied this, claiming she was singled out because she had tended to a wounded soldier outside her flat.
An investigation by the Northern Ireland police ombudsman rejected the allegation she was an informer.
Bell was a senior IRA officer at the time McConville was seized by armed men and women, and torn away from her children in December 1972.
Six months earlier Bell was part of an IRA delegation that secretly met Willie Whitelaw and several British government officials at the late MP Paul Channon’s flat in London.
Bell, allegedly alongside Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, the future deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, met Whitelaw and his team to discuss a ceasefire. However, the truce later broke down amid ongoing violence in Belfast.
Bell was later expelled from the IRA for plotting a coup d’etat against its leadership in the mid-1980s and warned he would be “executed” if he set up a rival republican organisation.
The full trial against the veteran republican will begin on 11 April.
Recording of deceased Belfast IRA commander Brendan Hughes names Sinn Féin president as giving execution order
2 November 2013
Jean McConville, who disappeared from west Belfast in 1972, with three of her 10 children. (Photograph: PA)
A tape recording of a deceased Belfast IRA commander in which Gerry Adams is accused of ordering the murder and secret burial of a widowed mother of 10 in 1972 will be broadcast for the first time this week.
A former IRA hunger striker, Brendan Hughes, alleges the Sinn Féin president was one of the heads of a unit that kidnapped, killed and buried west Belfast woman Jean McConville. Hughes, who died in 2008, is recorded as saying: “There was only one man who gave that order for that woman to be executed – and that man is now the head of Sinn Féin.” Hughes also says that Adams went to the McConville children after their mother was abducted and promised an internal IRA investigation. “That man is the man who gave the order for that woman to be executed. I did not give the order to execute that woman. He did.”
Adams is challenged on the BBC’s Storyville programme over whether he was a senior Provisionals commander in Belfast at the time McConville was abducted, just before Christmas 1972. “That’s not true,” Adams replies, adding that he has not “shirked” his own responsibilities in the conflict. The Sinn Féin leader has always insisted that he was never in the IRA.
In response to the tape, Adams, who is the Sinn Féin member for Louth in the Irish parliament, accuses his former friend of lying. “Brendan is telling lies,” Adams tells the programme. He adds: “I had no act or part to play in the abduction, killing or burial of Jean McConville or any of the others.”
An expert forensic detective tells the joint BBC Northern Ireland-RTE production that the IRA sometimes weighed bodies down with heavy stones to ensure that the corpses would not surface if the bogs they were buried in ever dried up.
Storyville reveals that the first of the “disappeared” to be found back in 1999, north Belfast man Eamon Molloy, had received the last rites from a Catholic priest. The priest saw Molloy tied naked to a bed and asked his captors if any of them had rosary beads that their prisoner could hold when he was to be shot.
Security sources in the Republic told the Observer last week that up to four additional men who were “disappeared” by the IRA have not yet been identified by the organisation set up to find the Troubles’ missing victims. The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) has so far found eight of the “disappeared”, including McConville, but seven on their official list are still unaccounted for.
A spokesman for the ICLVR, Geoff Knupfer, said: “At this moment there is no information to suggest there is any addition to the list.” However, security sources insist that at least four IRA victims were buried in secret. The film is to be broadcast on BBC4, BBC Northern Ireland and RTE on Tuesday.
It includes a reading of the late Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘The Bog Queen’, which the Nobel laureate agreed could be used in the programme to remember the plight of the “disappeared”.
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 Shawn Pogatchnik, Associated Press
17 Jan 2012
DUBLIN (AP) — A trans-Atlantic legal showdown could determine whether Gerry Adams, the Irish republican chieftain long at the center of Belfast war and peace, faces trial over his IRA past.
Police probing the Irish Republican Army’s 1972 killing of a Belfast mother of 10 want to seize taped interviews with IRA members that Boston College hoped to keep locked up for posterity. Researchers fighting the handover in court next week warn that disclosure could trigger attacks against IRA veterans involved in the secrecy-shrouded project and undermine Northern Ireland’s peace.
The case of Jean McConville, a 37-year-old widow, commands special attention among Northern Ireland’s nearly 3,300 unsolved killings because of allegations that Adams, the conflict’s leading guerrilla turned peacemaker, commanded the IRA unit responsible for ordering her execution and secret burial.
Adams denies this.
But the researchers who collected the interviews say they include multiple IRA colleagues of Adams from 1972 — testimony that, if made public, could fuel a victims’ civil lawsuit against the Sinn Fein party leader.
“Imagine if these interviews are delivered to the police and their contents come out in court. There’ll be a hue and cry for Gerry Adams’ political scalp,” said Ed Moloney, a former Belfast journalist who directed Boston College’s oral history project on Northern Ireland.
Moloney and the former IRA member who collected the interviews, Anthony McIntyre, go to court next Tuesday in Boston seeking to persuade Judge William Young to let Boston College keep the audiotapes out of the hands of Belfast police.
Moloney said the material was explosive enough to damage Northern Ireland’s unity government, in which Sinn Fein represents the Irish Catholic minority. Their surprisingly stable coalition with the British Protestant majority is the central achievement of the U.S.-brokered Good Friday peace accord.
McIntyre won the IRA veterans’ confidence by promising their confessions would remain confidential, beyond the reach of British law and order, as long as they lived. IRA members normally never talk openly about the underground group — partly because the IRA reserves the right to kill such people as traitors.
But posthumous testimony isn’t admissible as evidence.
Young last month ruled that the interviews of one living IRA veteran, convicted car bomber Dolours Price, should be surrendered because she discusses her role in the McConville killing. The judge also ruled he would personally review interviews involving 24 other Irish republicans, and more than 100 transcripts, to determine if others should be sent to Belfast police for the same reason.
To the fury of Moloney and McIntyre, Boston College accepted Young’s judgment. They say university officials should have appealed or risked a contempt order by destroying the whole archive.
“If they weren’t prepared to fight to the bitter end like us, then why did Boston College get involved in this kind of project at all?” Moloney said.
Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn insisted Young’s judgment was the best they could expect, given that some tapes include confessions of involvement in crimes.
“We would never want anyone to think that Boston College was obstructing a murder investigation,” he said.
A Boston appeals court has blocked any handover of IRA material to British authorities pending the resolution of two Moloney-McIntyre lawsuits.
McIntyre said his family home could be bombed, or he could be run over in the street, if his work ends up inspiring criminal prosecutions against those he interviewed or a civil lawsuit against Adams.
“I’m already being labeled a tout, an informer. That’s a death sentence in Irish republican circles,” said McIntyre, a Belfast native who spent 17 years in prison for killing a Protestant militant in a 1976 drive-by shooting. Today he lives in Ireland with his American wife, 10-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son.
“Of course I’m concerned what might happen to me,” said McIntyre, who is barred from traveling to the United States because of his murder conviction. “But I’m much more concerned about the safety of my wife, my children, and the people I interviewed.”
He, Moloney and Boston College officials all say they felt ambushed when the U.S. attorney’s office, acting on behalf of the British government and Northern Ireland police, last year filed subpoenas seeking all audiotapes in which IRA members discuss McConville’s disappearance.
Dunn said the researchers and key university staff a decade ago naively presumed that the risk of any British legal action was low, given that the Good Friday accord emphasized the need to draw a line under a conflict that had left 3,700 dead in the previous three decades.
That did little to mute cries for justice for Northern Ireland’s victims. The police there in 2005 formed a special “cold cases” unit, called the Historical Enquiries Team, that promised to re-examine all unsolved political killings since 1969. The Boston College archive represents a potential gold mine for its work.
Boston College has already handed over the tapes and transcripts of IRA member Brendan Hughes, a one-time Adams confidante who died in 2008. Moloney made Hughes’ posthumous testimony the foundation for his 2010 book “Voices From the Grave.”
Hughes told McIntyre he oversaw McConville’s “arrest” for allegedly being a British Army spy. He said Adams commanded a unit called “The Unknowns” responsible for making McConville and several other West Belfast civilians disappear.
“There was only one man who gave the order for that woman to be executed,” Hughes said. “That man is now the head of Sinn Fein. I did not give the order to execute that woman. He did.”
The U.S. attorney’s office in Boston so far has received 13 interviews involving Price, who reportedly drove McConville from Belfast to the Irish border for her execution, but has yet to hand them to the British.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John McNeil said American authorities must provide relevant IRA testimony to British authorities as part of Anglo-American treaty commitments to aid each other’s criminal investigations.
“The UK is investigating serious crimes: murder, kidnapping. The court has already found that it’s a bona fide investigation and that there’s no other source for this material,” McNeil said.
Adams’ spokesman, Richard McAuley, said Adams has nothing to hide.
“As to the specific allegations against Gerry, he’s consistently denied them,” McAuley said. “The truth is nobody knows what’s on the tapes. We only know the innuendo and insinuation.”
McConville’s eldest daughter Helen McKendry, who since 1994 has campaigned for the IRA to admit the truth of her mother’s execution, said she has no doubt Adams is responsible.
“Gerry Adams has come to my home and claimed he’s got nothing to do with my mother’s murder. But he couldn’t look me in the eye and he couldn’t say her name. He’s a liar,” she said.
McKendry was 15 in 1972 when several IRA members came to their Catholic west Belfast home to abduct her mother. The 10 children never saw her again, were told she’d abandoned them and were scattered into different foster homes.
The IRA didn’t admit it killed McConville until 1998. Five years later, a dog walker on a Republic of Ireland beach 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of Belfast spotted McConville’s skeletal remains protruding from a sandy bluff. Forensics officers found she’d been shot once in the back of the head, with the .22-caliber bullet still lodged in an eye socket.
“I really hope people in Boston back us up on this,” McKendry said. “Murder is murder. Release the tapes.”
• Associated Press writer Denise Lavoie in Boston contributed to this report.
On the Net:
Boston legal documents: http://bit.ly/yZwEaT
Northern Ireland’s ‘cold cases’ police team: http://bit.ly/zAQbyA
British-Irish commission for finding victims’ remains: http://www.iclvr.ie/
Boston College Library: http://bit.ly/zT0lSH
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.
17 Dec 2011
A federal judge rejected yesterday a motion by the trustees of Boston College to quash subpoenas that order them to turn over recordings of former members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and other items to British officials investigating crimes including murder and kidnapping.
But Judge William G. Young did not order BC to immediately turn over the materials to federal prosecutors in Boston, who issued the subpoenas on behalf of British authorities.
Instead, Young said in his 48-page ruling that he would review the materials and decide on the next step, writing that the subpoenas were made “in good faith, and relevant to a nonfrivolous criminal inquiry. Nor are the materials readily available from a less sensitive source’’ than the recordings at BC.
The materials were collected between 2001 and 2006 for a BC oral history project about the period known as the Troubles, when more than 3,000 people were killed in the struggle between the IRA and British authorities over control of Northern Ireland.
The project developers promised their interview subjects anonymity until they died, an offer they could not legally make, prosecutors have argued.
BC has said that turning over the materials – which include interview transcripts and other items related to former IRA member Dolours Price – would have a chilling effect on academic freedom and, in some cases, endanger the safety of people involved in the project.
The university has turned over materials pertaining to a deceased former IRA member, Brendan Hughes, Young wrote. He also wrote that Price’s participation in the project has been widely reported by news media in Northern Ireland.
He acknowledged some of BC’s concerns, but added that the recordings are relevant to investigations of crimes including murder and kidnapping. He also said the United States has an obligation under a treaty with Britain to turn over the materials.
“These are serious allegations, and they weigh strongly in favor of disclosing the confidential information,’’ Young wrote.
Jack Dunn, a spokesman for BC, said by phone that the university was pleased with the ruling: “While the motion to quash the subpoenas was denied, the court, in agreeing to review the research materials . . . granted [the college] what it was seeking by promising to determine what materials, if any, are relevant’’ to the criminal investigations.
Assistant US Attorney John McNeil, also hailed the ruling. He said that Young affirmed that the recordings are relevant to a criminal inquiry. Also, he said, the ruling indicates that “the US government’s obligation [under the treaty with Britain and] the public interest in this criminal inquiry are compelling.’’
BC must turn over the materials to Young by Wednesday.