Right of Reply: Gerry Adams was never target of Boston College Oral History project

Right of Reply: Gerry Adams was never target of Boston College Oral History project
A response to an Irish Voice Editorial
By ANTHONY MCINTYRE, IrishCentral.com Contributing Writer
Published Wednesday, August 31, 2011, 8:07 AM
Updated Wednesday, August 31, 2011, 9:40 AM
Irish Voice

In a recent Periscope column in the Irish Voice (August 23rd) Niall O’Dowd can be found lunging wildly at a range of targets he has taken umbrage at. Their transgression is nothing other than having taken part in a research project for Boston College. Because he is of a view that the project failed to establish that Gerry Adams was never a member of the IRA, he has lashed out not only at the college but also at Ed Moloney and myself, the project manager and lead researcher respectively.

What Niall O’ Dowd fails to understand is that academic research is not about falsifying the historical record so that history becomes the mere tool of the present, a servant of a current political process. It is about establishing to the best of its ability a record for the benefit of posterity. Oral history is not without pitfalls, relying as it does on the recollection of players in key historical moments. Their accounts might be off centre, even wrong. They are certainly never beyond question. What they are is an indispensible contribution to public understanding, without which society is left intellectually poorer. Oral history seeks not to monopolize the historical record or suppress alternative histories, but to deposit an additional layer of historical sediment on the vast formations already in existence.

The preposterous suggestion that Boston College carried out a witch hunt against the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams is a figment of Niall O’Dowd’s imagination every bit as much as never having been a member of the IRA is a figment of Mr. Adams’ own imagination. Was the late Kader Asmal, via memoirs published after his death, also involved in a witch hunt against Mr Adams? What possible interest would Boston College have in making life difficult for Gerry Adams? It more than any other US university has worked diligently and assiduously in its promotion of the peace process of which Adams was one of the prime architects.

Fortunately, for the sake of knowledge and public understanding, there is no compelling reason for academic investigation and political narrative to coincide and many good reasons as to why they should not. Has, for example, one serious academic or journalist ever publicly acquiesced in the Adams narrative on his relationship to the IRA?

Niall O’Dowd may well seek to smear the people assigned by Boston College to conduct its research project, and by extension the college, but in doing so he has failed lamentably to make a convincing case that the Boston College research project worked towards a predetermined outcome. What he has achieved is a demonstration of his own proclivity for discriminating against journalists and researchers who have had the temerity to probe beyond the politically expedient narrative of the peace process.

Whatever Niall O’Dowd’s motives in attacking the oral history project of Boston College the defense of academic integrity does not figure amongst them. He is merely behaving as an echo chamber for Sinn Fein exasperation that its version of history is not the sole thread in the historical tapestry. But in a milieu of intellectual pluralism he should expect no less.

In his Periscope broadside he accused Boston College of having hired anti-Adams researchers. He fails to make the point that both myself and Ed Moloney are considered well outside the confines of Boston College as competent analysts. We brought a measure of certifiable journalistic and academic acumen to the task at hand. Perhaps had we lacked qualifications, were members of Sinn Fein and interviewed people who would testify to Gerry Adams history of non involvement in the IRA, we might have satisfied his rigorous criteria as to what constitutes a non biased research team.

Niall O’Dowd complains of irony inherent in the claim by Ed Moloney and myself that recalcitrant elements in the PSNI might have cynically opted to damage the peace process. He dismisses it with the words ‘stable door and bolted horse.’ Implicit in this comment is that it is par for the course on the part of some security force personnel. Indeed it is, but not to the extent that has long been suggested. Does Niall O’Dowd seriously contend that the Northern Bank Robbery, links to Colombian guerrillas, the Castlereagh break-in and the kidnapping of Bobby Tohill were all false allegations, as alleged by Sinn Fein at the time, made by security force personnel to undermine the peace process? Such a spurious belief is what academic research can often undermine and for which it should be valued rather than denigrated

Unlike the incidents just referred to, there would on this occasion seem to be no plausible alternative explanation to the theory proffered by Kevin Cullen in the Boston Globe that the exercise by the PSNI in pursuit of material from the oral history archives at Boston College is an attempt to cause problems for Gerry Adams. The Northern Irish police displayed no eagerness to solve the case at the centre of the subpoena for almost 40 years. Why now? Niall O’Dowd appears to agree as he approvingly cites the Cullen argument. What seems incongruous is that O’Dowd then attacks the project rather than the PSNI. He seeks to weaken the college defense of academic freedom and free inquiry by alleging that the history project was an ersatz academic venture, the real purpose of which was to collate negative information about Gerry Adams. ‘Unwittingly or wittingly perhaps’, he is adding ballast to the case of those in the PSNI he accuses of seeking revenge on Gerry Adams.

Adams witch-hunt casts dark cloud over peace process

Adams witch-hunt casts dark cloud over peace process
By Jim Dee
Belfast Telegraph
Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Sixty-nine-year-old Seamus Boyle has lived in Philadelphia nearly all of his life. But when he talks about events occurring “around our way” he’s not talking Philly – he’s talking about Faughiletra townland in south Armagh.

“You hear stories around our way about somebody in the Orange Order who went to a Catholic craftsman to ask him to build a table for the order’s meeting hall,” said Boyle, discussing subtle changes that the peace process has wrought in his native land.

“That was unheard of before the peace process,” added the president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America. “And that stuff is happening both ways.”

Born in 1942, Boyle lived his early years in Faughiletra, moved to Philly in 1954, before moving back to his old stomping ground and marrying in the mid-60s. Boyle vividly recalls the tumultuous events of the late 1960s, including Civil Rights marches, the explosion of violence in August 1969 and the introduction of internment two years later.

It was shortly after internment, that Boyle moved his family back ‘across the pond’ and became involved in Irish Northern Aid (Noraid) and the AOH.

During one of his regular trips home in August 1979, the IRA killed Lord Mountbatten and 18 British paratroopers in separate attacks on the same day. In the aftermath, he said he felt “like there would be no end to it”.

Still, Boyle stayed involved in support work and, like so many, he was heartened to see the IRA call a ceasefire in 1994 and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

Boyle and the AOH backed the agreement when it was severely buffeted and when the St Andrews Agreement ushered in the current Executive, they welcomed the DUP-Sinn Fein partnership.

“It took a lot for Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson to compromise…” said Boyle. “They took risks for peace. And they took a lot of flak for it.”

Dark clouds are again trying to form over the process, with the eye of the storm Boston College’s cache of interviews with former IRA members and loyalist paramilitaries. A Boston Globe columnist reported that recent court filings in the case make it clear that the entity seeking the tapes via the US Justice Department (the PSNI being the prime suspect), has expressed no interest in the loyalist interviews. They only want access to interviews with the ex-IRA and, specifically, any that pertain to Jean McConville’s killing. According to the columnist, the whole case is aimed at toppling Gerry Adams.

Boyle is sceptical about what he calls “a witch-hunt” against Adams. But what does Boyle think about Adams’ former close comrade Brendan Hughes’ accusation, published in Voices from the Grave, that Adams ordered Mrs McConville’s murder?

“I think it’s irrelevant. What’s done is done. What’s past is past. And we’re looking to the future, not the past,” he said.

“It is a shame, everything that happened. There were atrocities all over the north by both sides.

“It was part of a war. All we can do is just move forward.”

BC tapes: PSNI accused of Adams witch hunt

BC tapes: PSNI accused of Adams witch hunt
Irish Emigrant
By Brian Fitzpatrick

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams, who is at the center of a storm over a Boston College oral history project.
In a move viewed by many as an attempt by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to discredit or even prosecute Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz last week filed a second set of subpoenas requesting access to Boston College’s oral history of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The college had tried to quash an initial subpoena from the US attorney’s office regarding the tapes, which include 30 to 50 oral histories from republican and loyalist paramilitaries which were gathered as the Troubles came to an end, under the strict condition that the recordings would not be released until the interviewees had passed away.

Prosecutors first asked a judge some months ago to order that the college hand over taped interviews given by Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price, two former IRA members who had in the past accused Adams of running a secret IRA cell which conducted the kidnappings and disappearances of at least nine people during the early 1970s. Adams famously denies ever being an IRA member.

Now, however, US authorities acting on behalf of an unnamed body presumed to be the PSNI, are demanding access to some 26 interviews given to BC by former IRA members in the project undertaken by Anthony McIntyre, himself a former IRA operative. The investigation is focused on the case of Jean McConville, a mother of 10 who in 1972 was abducted, killed and buried on a beach in the Republic by the IRA, having been suspected of informing to British authorities. Her remains weren’t uncovered until 2003.

Significantly, prosecutors aren’t looking for access to interviews given by loyalist paramilitaries for the same project, which has led some to express the belief that the partisan nature of the investigation could have serious consequences for the peace process.

“From the beginning, Boston College has opposed the subpoenas on the grounds that the premature release of the tapes would threaten the safety of the participants, the enterprise of oral history and the ongoing peace and reconciliation process in Northern Ireland,” said Jack Dunn of Boston College in a statement emailed to The Irish Emigrant.

“The latest subpoena…will continue to fuel speculation that the sealed request from authorities in the UK is politically motivated.” Dunn concluded.

After his passing in 2008, parts of Brendan Hughes’ testimony were published in Ed Moloney’s book Voices from the Grave. BC has already handed over certain materials relating to Hughes to the court, but with Price still alive, the college had expressed concerns for her safety should they hand over her recordings.

The original “Motion for an Order to Compel”, seen by The Irish Emigrant, states that, “the Respondents made promises they could not keep – that they would conceal evidence of murder and other crimes until the perpetrators were in their graves…there is no academic privilege which shields the material from disclosure.”

In an op-ed submission to the Boston Globe, however, Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre said they feel there is more to the tale than is being admitted.

“[The subpoenas] originate from a small number of PSNI detectives who can hardly be surprised if their motives are questioned,” they said. “After all, the murder at the center of this case was largely ignored by the police for the best part of 40 years.”

Referring to Adams’ election to Dáil Éireann as a TD (member of the Irish parliament) for Co. Louth, which was soon followed by the original subpoena, they said:

“In that election, Gerry Adams was elected to the Dublin parliament and is well-placed to lead his party into government next time. Only then did the PSNI crank into action. Was that just a coincidence?”

Boston College tapes request ‘politically motivated’

Boston College tapes request ‘politically motivated’
By Jennifer O’Leary
BBC News
25 August 2011 Last updated at 16:43 GMT

Boston College has claimed that the latest subpoenas issued in the US seeking interviews conducted with former IRA members lends support to the assumption that the demand is politically motivated.

It comes after prosecutors in the US issued a second set of subpoenas seeking the contents of a secret archive from Boston College of oral histories about the Troubles.

In a statement to the BBC, a spokesperson for the college said: “From the beginning, Boston College has opposed the subpoenas on the grounds that the premature release of the tapes would threaten the safety of the participants, the enterprise of oral history and the ongoing peace and reconciliation process in Northern Ireland.

“The US District Court’s latest subpoena request for Boston College to turn over all of the IRA interviews – while ignoring the tapes of the UVF members – lends support to the assumption held by many that the sealed request from UK authorities is politically motivated.”

What was termed the ‘Belfast Project’ took place over five years from 2001 and involved academics, historians and journalists conducting interviews with former republicans and loyalists about their activities during the Troubles.

In return for honest accounts, those who were interviewed were promised that their identities would be kept confidential and that the interviews would be released only after their deaths.

The transcripts are kept at Boston College.

The latest effort to get access to some of the confidential oral testimony involves the US attorney in Boston acting for as yet unidentified authorities associated with the British government.

Disappeared

The first legal bid was initiated in May by the PSNI and the Public Prosecutions Service but led by the US Attorney’s Office in Boston.

It is understood the legal bid is linked to a PSNI investigation into the Disappeared – people who were murdered and secretly buried by the IRA.

US federal prosecutors sought the recordings or transcripts of interviews with two former IRA members – Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price Brendan Hughes died in 2008, so the college has produced the archives relating to him.

However, Dolours Price is still alive, and the college does not want to hand over the material of the interviews with her.

US prosecutors subpoena college for IRA interviews

US prosecutors subpoena college for IRA interviews
KEVIN CULLEN in Boston
Irish Times
Thu, Aug 25, 2011

PROSECUTORS IN the US have issued a second set of subpoenas seeking the contents of a secret archive from Boston College of oral histories about the Troubles.

The new court application makes it clear that the focus of the investigation by British authorities is the 1972 disappearance and murder of Jean McConville, a Belfast mother of 10.

Acting at the behest of as yet unidentified authorities associated with the British government, the US attorney in Boston, Carmen Ortiz, last spring had demanded that the college turn over interviews its researchers had conducted with two admitted members of the IRA, Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price.

But now federal prosecutors say they want the contents of 26 interviews given by former members of the IRA, to see if they shed light on Mrs McConville’s abduction and murder.

After the college’s lawyers argued that the government’s initial request was too broad, federal prosecutors filed a new demand for the college’s records, specifically demanding “any and all interviews containing information about the abduction and death of Mrs Jean McConville”.

Federal prosecutors said the college had no authority to grant confidentiality to those interviewed, and dismissed the university’s contention that revealing the identities of those who gave interviews would place them in danger.

“Simply put, the [college] made promises they could not keep – that they would conceal evidence of murder and other crimes until the perpetrators were in their graves,” wrote assistant US attorney John McNeil. “While the impetus for collecting this evidence was laudable, the promise of absolute confidentiality was flawed.”

With anything that could advance a criminal investigation, he wrote, “there is no academic privilege”. Claims that disclosure would lead to retribution, he wrote, “falter in the face of close scrutiny”. He described the prospect of threats to individuals, and even the peace process itself, by such disclosures as “speculative”.

Federal prosecutors also made it clear they were interested only in the 26 interviews with IRA members that were conducted as part of the college’s oral history project about the Troubles.

The lack of interest in crimes that may have been discussed by loyalists interviewed for the project has led many officials at the college to complain privately that the investigation appears politically motivated and is aimed at embarrassing, if not prosecuting, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.

In interviews given to Anthony McIntyre, a former IRA member hired by the college to record the oral histories of various IRA figures, Mr Hughes claimed Mr Adams gave the orders to kill and secretly bury Mrs McConville after the IRA accused her of being an informer. Mr Hughes, whose interviews with Mr McIntyre formed the basis of Ed Moloney’s book Voices from the Grave, fell out with Mr Adams over Sinn Féin’s direction of the republican movement.

Boston College turned over to US prosecutors its interviews with Mr Hughes, saying its promise of confidentiality ended with his death in 2008.

But the college refused to turn over its interviews with Ms Price, one of the Old Bailey bombers, who last year made similar allegations to the Irish News about Mr Adams’s alleged involvement in Mrs McConville’s disappearance and murder.

Mr Adams has repeatedly denied any involvement with the IRA’s admitted abduction, murder and secret burial of Mrs McConville, whose body was found on a Co Louth beach in 2003.

Sinn Féin spokesmen have suggested the initial request for the information in the college archive came from within the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and that the effort was aimed at embarrassing or even prosecuting the Sinn Féin leader after his election to the Dáil last February. But the initial order for the subpoenas remains sealed, making it unclear exactly who sought the information and why.

In response to the second set of subpoenas, Jeffrey Swope, a lawyer representing the college, wrote that it maintained its belief that disclosing the contents of the archive would put people, and the peace process, in danger while undermining academic freedom.

US district court judge Joseph Tauro is due to schedule a hearing for arguments in the case soon.

The big dig

The big dig
Irish Echo
AUGUST 24TH, 2011
By Ray O’Hanlon

Federal authorities have broadened their demands for the contents of oral history testimonies dealing with the Troubles in Northern Ireland and given to Boston College on the basis of confidentiality.

Boston College has thus far resisted attempts by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston, acting on behalf of the PSNI, to gain access to the archive, dubbed the “Belfast Project,” which was compiled on its behalf by journalists Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre.

Initial efforts by the DA’s office were aimed at securing the testimonies of former IRA volunteers Brendan Hughes (now deceased) and Dolours Price.

However, Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen – one of the most experienced among U.S. journalists who has reported on Northern Ireland over the years – reported Tuesday that new court filings show that federal authorities now want “anything and everything” in the BC secret archive related to the 1972 disappearance and murder of a Belfast mother of 10, Jean McConville, who was abducted and executed by the IRA as a suspected informer.

Wrote Cullen: “At least we now know what this fishing expedition is all about. It’s about using the U.S. government as a pawn in a blatantly political act, an attempt by police in Northern Ireland to certainly embarrass and possibly prosecute the Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams over McConville’s disappearance and murder.

Cullen added that in the nearly 40 years since McConville was disappeared by the IRA, (her remains were found in 2003) police in Northern Ireland had showed little interest in her murder.

Both Hughes and Price adopted positions over the years that were increasingly critical of Adams and in a newspaper interview last year, Price directly linked Adams to the disappearance and death of McConville.

Meanwhile, though the BC archive is wide ranging and includes interviews with loyalist paramilitaries, the federal subpoenas focus solely on the McConville case.

“Not only does this show a selective, politically motivated prosecution taking place, it underscores the seriousness of the threat to the power-sharing government in Northern Ireland, which is the cornerstone of the peace process,” wrote Cullen, whose paper recently carried an editorial supporting the DA’s probe.

That editorial prompted an op-ed response from Ed Moloney, director of the Belfast Project at Boston College, and Anthony McIntyre, the project’s lead researcher on the IRA, which was carried by the Globe Tuesday in the same issue as Cullen’s column.

Boston College played major role in witch hunt against Gerry Adams

Boston College played major role in witch hunt against Gerry Adams – Hired anti-Adams researchers to lead oral history project
Periscope by Niall O’Dowd (Irish Voice)
Posted on Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 06:02 PM

There is something rotten in Boston College where the latest push by Northern Irish authorities to gain access to oral histories by IRA participants has moved up a notch.

The Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen correctly identified this latest effort as a witch hunt against Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams in an attempt to link him to a 1972 murder in Belfast.

The college has been vainly protesting that it will not reveal the oral histories to feds, acting on behalf of the British government but they have very little credibility on this issue.

It appears obvious now that the oral histories were given under a guarantee of full confidentiality and for use by future historians but that was not worth the paper it was written on.

The recollections of Brendan Hughes, one of the IRA men in the oral history project, formed a major basis of the 2010 book by author Ed Moloney called ‘Voices from the Grave.”

Moloney, a former journalist in Northern Ireland, was director of the Belfast project for Boston College and apparently the rule of confidentiality or immediate release of information from sources did not apply to him.

Moloney has written repeatedly in hostile fashion about Adams a fact that BC conveniently ignored when they hired him.

In his book Moloney quoted Hughes as saying that Adams was certainly in the IRA and ordered many killings. That was later the basis of a major documentary on Irish television and worldwide stories about the case.

The story broke around the time Adams was running for a seat in the Irish parliament and was widely viewed as an attempt to damage him.

Professor Thomas Hachey, executive director of the Irish Studies program at BC, helpfully wrote the introduction for Moloney’s book very much tying the college into its conclusions.

Moloney clearly felt he was entitled to quote from the confidential archives at length in what seemed a vain attempt to link Adams to the 1972 Jean McConville murder and Boston College went right along with it.

It gets worse, Moloney’s lead researcher and interviewer was Anthony McIntyre, a leading dissident republican who also had a deep loathing for Gerry Adams and conducted the interview with Hughes.

Was this the kind of unbiased historical perspective and information gathering that Boston College should have insisted upon?

No, of course not, right from the beginning the aim was clearly to try and get negative information on Gerry Adams and Boston College played a full role, however unwittingly or wittingly perhaps.

Now it has landed them in a hornet’s nest worth of trouble. No doubt seeing what Moloney and McIntyre were able to put together, some key security figure in Northern Ireland wanted their attempt to get at Adams too, and settle some scores.

They now have the US Attorneys office doing their bidding and seeking to get all tapes released, from Republican sources.

What exactly the Obama administration is doing aiding and abetting this witch hunt is material for another column

Boston College is now spluttering that they should be allowed hold the tapes confidential—even though they allowed the release of Hughes’s testimony to Moloney.

In an ironic twist Moloney and McIntyre wrote an op- ed in the Boston Globe Tuesday saying release of the tapes could damage the peace process.

Stable door and bolted horse come to mind. Boston College certainly have a case to answer and have shown how not to do a professional oral history of the Troubles– and endanger the peace process in the process.

Get Gerry Adams focus of Feds new subpoena of Boston College records

Get Gerry Adams focus of Feds new subpoena of Boston College records
British authorities seek broader access to oral history on IRA 1972 murder
By JAMES O’SHEA, IrishCentral.com Staff Writer
Published Tuesday, August 23, 2011, 7:12 AM
Updated Tuesday, August 23, 2011, 3:52 PM

New court filings show that Northern Ireland authorities have widened the scope of their investigation into the Boston College archives of The Troubles and are focusing on Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

The Northern Irish police now want everything in the BC oral history archive related to the murder of Jean McConville in 1972, a mother of ten who was shot by the IRA. Attempts have long been made to link Adams to the murder.

US federal authorities, acting on behalf of Northern Irish police have now subpoenaed “any and all interviews containing information about the abduction and death of Mrs. Jean McConville.’’

Previously they had wanted only the testimonies of Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price, two former Republican colleagues of Adams who later fell out with him.

Despite the fact that there are extensive interviews with Loyalist leaders on various murders on their side and other interviews with Republicans on other murders not connected to McConville, the Northern Irish authorities are showing no interest in pursuing those.

Boston College has resisted the subpoena and has stated that the interviews were given on the basis of confidentiality.

Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen has slammed the attempt to use the information from the BC archives.

“At least we now know what this fishing expedition is all about. It’s about using the US government as a pawn in a blatantly political act, an attempt by police in Northern Ireland to certainly embarrass and possibly prosecute the Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams over McConville’s disappearance and murder,” he wrote

They are seeking only the 26 interviews with former IRA figures, none with Loyalist members and murders that were committed on that side.

Cullen writes “The feds, as proxies for British law enforcement, said they want only the 26 interviews of former IRA members. There is no interest in whatever crimes were discussed by loyalist paramilitaries who took part in the project.

Not only does this show a selective, politically motivated prosecution taking place, it underscores the seriousness of the threat to the power-sharing government in Northern Ireland, which is the cornerstone of the peace process.

“Given the hundreds of unsolved murders that took place during the Troubles, the idea that the only one of interest in those BC files happens to implicate the leader of the party that represents the majority of Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland shows what this is all about. This isn’t about justice.

It’s about revenge. And if this is followed through to its logical conclusion, the power-sharing government will collapse in a sea of recrimination.”

Fishing in BC’s Archives

Fishing in BC’s archives
By Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre
BOSTON GLOBE
August 23, 2011

BOSTON COLLEGE is currently resisting efforts by the security forces in Northern Ireland to force it to hand over part of its oral history archive on the Irish Republican Army, and as well it should. This attempt to violate the college’s files could have disastrous consequences for oral historians and their close cousins in the media. It also could be immensely destructive to the peace process in Northern Ireland.

The subpoenas that have been served are based on an unproven assertion: that an interview given to the college by a former Irish Republican Army activist, Dolours Price, could shed light on a 40-year-old murder and should be surrendered.

The truth, however, is that the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), on whose behalf US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz is acting, does not know what Dolours Price told Boston College’s interviewers. Neither does Ortiz.

They do not know because the legal basis for the subpoenas is deeply flawed, the result of either rank incompetence or sleight of hand. The authorities have justified the action by claiming that an interview with Price published in a Belfast newspaper in February 2010 about the murder was derived from her Boston College interview, when in fact it was based on a separate taped interview given directly to the newspaper. Price’s interviews have never been released by Boston College and never would be – because a guarantee of confidentiality was given to every interviewee.

What is happening is essentially an unwarranted fishing expedition into the college archives. It has been suggested that not to comply with the subpoenas could anger the British government, which might then raise obstacles in America’s fight against terrorism. Yet the subpoenas are not the work of the British government per se; its minister in Northern Ireland has expressed embarrassment at the move. Rather, they originate from a small number of PSNI detectives who can hardly be surprised if their motives are questioned. After all, the murder at the center of this case was largely ignored by the police for the best part of 40 years, and even when Price’s newspaper interview was published in 2010 they did nothing.

A whole year passed before action was taken. When the police service did move, it was within weeks of Sinn Fein’s remarkable electoral comeback in the general election in the Republic of Ireland. In that election, Gerry Adams was elected to the Dublin parliament and is well-placed to lead his party into government next time. Only then did the PSNI crank into action. Was that just a coincidence?

Irredentist elements opposed to the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland have long seen this case as an opportunity to bring down Adams for his alleged role in the 40-year-old murder – and, perhaps, to bring down aspects of the peace process they abhor. The stability of the power-sharing government in Belfast could conceivably be threatened by this case. The United States played a huge role in bringing about peace in Northern Ireland; wouldn’t it be ironic if now it played a part in undoing it?

The police and the British authorities in Northern Ireland do not come to this case with clean hands. Their track record in covering up official involvement in some of the most shocking murders of the Irish Troubles is well known, and they cannot be allowed to present themselves in America as an unblemished force attempting to get to the bottom of an awful killing.

Since this case could affect the stability of the peace process in Ireland, it is worth reflecting on recent remarks made in the wake of these subpoenas by the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, a body set up at the suggestion of the Clinton White House to facilitate the disarming of the IRA: Peacemaking, the commission said, “means that however reprehensible some acts are that were committed in the past, at some point a line needs to be drawn under them – never to forget, but to be able to move on.’’

Ed Moloney was the director of the Belfast Project at Boston College. Anthony McIntyre was the project’s lead researcher on the IRA.

Troubling request

Troubling request
By Kevin Cullen
BOSTON GLOBE
Globe Columnist / August 23, 2011

When last we left the saga of efforts by the US attorney’s office to wrest confidential oral histories about the Troubles in Northern Ireland from Boston College, prosecutors wanted the recollections of just two people: former IRA volunteers Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price.

But give an overreaching, overzealous government an inch and they’ll take a mile.
Some new court filings show the feds, acting on behalf of some law enforcement entity in Northern Ireland that dares not speak its name, now want the whole enchilada: They want anything and everything in the BC secret archive related to the 1972 disappearance and murder of a Belfast mother of 10 named Jean McConville, who was abducted and executed by the Irish Republican Army as a suspected informer. Her body was recovered in 2003.

At least we now know what this fishing expedition is all about. It’s about using the US government as a pawn in a blatantly political act, an attempt by police in Northern Ireland to certainly embarrass and possibly prosecute the Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams over McConville’s disappearance and murder.

Hughes and Price fell out with Adams over his getting the IRA to disband without achieving Irish republican goals. They publicly accused him of being the IRA commander who ordered McConville’s disappearance and murder. Adams has repeatedly denied this.

In the nearly 40 years since McConville was disappeared by the IRA, police in Northern Ireland showed little interest in her murder. They did nothing after Price gave an interview to a Belfast newspaper in 2010, alleging that Adams gave the order to abduct, kill, and secretly bury McConville. But earlier this year, shortly after Adams was elected to the Republic of Ireland’s Parliament, the demand for BC’s archive was made. Coincidence? I think not.

BC promised Irish republican and British loyalist former combatants that their oral histories would not be released until their deaths. The feds say BC had no authority to promise that confidentiality. John McNeil, the Boston-based prosecutor who disputed the notion that menace still lurks over who says what in Northern Ireland, is a fine fellow, but I’m guessing he hasn’t spent much time in West Belfast, where hard men nurse fresh pints and old grudges.

After BC lawyers complained that the first set of subpoenas was too vague, the feds issued a second set demanding “any and all interviews containing information about the abduction and death of Mrs. Jean McConville.’’

The feds, as proxies for British law enforcement, said they want only the 26 interviews of former IRA members. There is no interest in whatever crimes were discussed by loyalist paramilitaries who took part in the project.

Not only does this show a selective, politically motivated prosecution taking place, it underscores the seriousness of the threat to the power-sharing government in Northern Ireland, which is the cornerstone of the peace process. Given the hundreds of unsolved murders that took place during the Troubles, the idea that the only one of interest in those BC files happens to implicate the leader of the party that represents the majority of Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland shows what this is all about. This isn’t about justice. It’s about revenge. And if this is followed through to its logical conclusion, the power-sharing government will collapse in a sea of recrimination.

The US government spent many years and millions of dollars stewarding the peace process in Northern Ireland. Now it is unwittingly doing the bidding of others who want to wreck it.