IAUC Letter to Attorney General Eric Holder

Eric H. Holder, Jr., Esq.
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue,
NW Washington,
DC 20530-0001

Re: US-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty – UK subpoena of Boston College records

Dear Attorney General Holder:

On behalf of the Irish American Unity Conference (“IAUC”), this is to request your personal attention to a legal matter of utmost concern to the IAUC and which has potentially serious implications for United States policy pertaining to international law and treaties. As you are aware, the United States Attorney, at the request of the United Kingdom, has caused the issuance of subpoenas to the Trustees of Boston College and two of its representatives, seeking the production of highly sensitive materials gathered and maintained by Boston College’s Burns Library. The legal proceedings are pending before the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts in IN RE: Request from the United Kingdom Pursuant to the Treaty Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Kingdom on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters in the Matter of Dolours Price, M.B.D. No.: 11-MC-91078 (JLT).

The subpoenas command production of audio and video recordings of “any and all interviews containing information about the [1972] abduction and death of Mrs. Jean McConville,” along with written transcripts, summaries, and indices of such interviews….” These materials are sought under the US-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), 18 U.S.C. §3512. Legal arguments have been raised by Boston College and intervenors that the subpoenas are not consistent with the MLAT or the Extradition Treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom signed on March 31, 2003 (Treaty Doc. 108-23). In particular, Article 3, Section 1 of the MLAT provides

“the Central Authority [i.e., the Attorney General] may refuse assistance if:
(a) the Requested Party [the United States] is of the opinion that the request, if granted, would impair its sovereignty, security, or other essential interests or would be contrary to important public policy;
[or]…(c) the request relates to an offence that is regarded by the [United States]* as:
(i) an offence of a political character….”

Article 18 of the MLAT also requires that the Attorney General engage in a consultation with the United Kingdom where either the United States or the United Kingdom “has rights or obligations under another bilateral or multilateral agreement relating to the subject matter of this Treaty.” These issues are presently pending before the court in the docket referenced above.

The IAUC’s concern is that the subject materials contain sensitive information and allegations concerning the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland which, if released, pose a high potential to destabilize the Irish peace process. That process is at a delicate stage because there exist elements that, for their own reasons, are staunchly opposed to peace in Northern Ireland and seek to reverse the progress that has been made. While the contents of the subpoenaed materials are unknown to the public, it is likely that they will engender recriminations and undermine trust among various parties, and could lead to a new round of violence in Northern Ireland.

The IAUC believes that the subpoenas requested by the UK are politically motivated. The subpoenas were initiated on March 3, 2011, immediately after the unexpected success of nationalists in the February 2011 Irish elections, and at a time when “dissident republicans” and hard-line Loyalists have become increasingly active in trying to undo the peace.

Further, the British government’s focus on a single killing in 1972 contrasts starkly with the United Kingdom’s long-standing refusal to pursue investigations of crimes with many innocent victims, such as the 1974 Dublin-Monaghan murders (33 civilians killed), the 1971 Ballymurphy Massacre (11 civilians killed), the 1971 McGurk’s Bar bombing (15 civilians killed), and the murders of civil rights attorneys Patrick Finucane in 1996 and Rosemary Nelson in 1999.

Further, the IAUC submits that the Good Friday Agreement (“GFA”) is “another bilateral or multilateral agreement relating to the subject matter of” the MLAT, pursuant to which the UK has obligations, and therefore is the type of of agreement concerning which the Attorney General is obligated to consult under Section 18 of the MLAT prior to issuing subpoenas.

In light of the serious implications of the subpoenas including the legal issues raised, the IAUC urgently requests that you personally review the consistency of the subpoenas with the duties and obligations of your office under the MLAT, and upon due consideration, withdraw the request for subpoenas.

Thank you in advance for your thoughtful consideration, and please let us know if we may provide any additional information.

Respectfully,
/S/
Thomas J. Burke, Jr. National President
Irish American Unity Conference

Peter C. Kissel
President, DC Chapter
Irish American Unity Conference

Advocacy Groups Weigh in on Belfast Project Subpoena

Advocacy Groups Weigh in on Belfast Project Subpoena
Active Measures Taken to Quash the Subpoena Order
By Daniel Tonkovich, Heights Editor
The Heights
Published: Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2011 02:10

The international rhubarb over the federal subpoena of the Belfast Project oral history tapes guarded by Boston College has piqued the interest of several advocacy groups who are taking active measures outside of the court system to quash the order.

Representatives of Irish American organizations recently met with officials in Senator John Kerry’s office regarding the federal subpoena of confidential oral histories related to a period known as “the Troubles” in Northern Ireland that lasted from 1969-1998.

Richard Wall and Richard Thompson of the Massachusetts Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish Catholic fraternal organization which seeks as part of its mission for a peaceful and just solution to the issues that divide Ireland-along with Boston attorneys John Foley and James Cotter and New York attorney Stephen McCabe of the Brehon Law Society and the Irish Parades Emergency Committee briefed staffers on the subpoena controversy.

“Discussed was the chilling effect of the actions of Great Britain in issuing subpoenas could have on oral history projects, and the first amendment questions raised when journalists are requested to divulge information obtained in confidence,” said the representatives in a statement.

Kerry’s office has expressed concern over the sensitive issue.

“Senator Kerry and his staff have sought information and been kept up to date on the subpoenas issued to Boston College. Obviously this is a sensitive issue, and while it is an issue for the courts, Senator Kerry has urged all parties involved to carefully consider any actions that could affect the peace process,” said Whitney Smith, press secretary for Kerry.

Kerry was involved in the Belfast Agreement, which includes assurances that offenses which occurred prior to the 1998 agreement would not be re-opened for trial.

The subpoenaed oral history tapes, promised to the interviewees to remain confidential until death of the interviewee, are part of an investigation into murders and kidnappings conducted as part of the struggle over governance in Northern Ireland. Law enforcement officials in the United Kingdom, issuing a subpoena for the tapes through the U.S. Attorney’s office, seek the contents of the project in hopes of gathering information related to the 1972 abduction and murder of Jean McConville.

McConville was a mother of 10, residing in Belfast at the time, and suspected of being an informer for British loyalists. The IRA has admitted its involvement in the murder of McConville, whose remains were discovered in Ireland in 2003, but no individuals have been charged with the murder.

The interviews of one of the Project’s participants, Brendan Hughes, has been handed over to the requesting party in the UK, as the promise of confidentiality expired upon his death in 2008, and most of his testimony has already appeared in Irish journalist Ed Moloney’s Voices from the Grave. The testimony of others, including Delores Price, the subject of the original subpoena for records, continues to be held in confidentiality by the University until death of the individual interviewed. Both Hughes and Price made previous assertions that Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, a political party in Northern Ireland associated with the Provisional IRA, ordered McConville’s murder. Adams has denied the allegations.

Violation of the Belfast Agreement is the argument used by Moloney, who directed the Belfast Project currently housed in the Burns Library, and Anthony McIntyre, a former IRA member who interviewed Republicans for the project, to object to the federal subpoena separate from BC’s challenge. Moloney and McIntyre argue that the use of the tapes for the prosecution concerning McConville’s death is a direct violation of the agreement.

The international ordeal has also sparked action by the Irish American Unity Conference (IAUC), an advocacy organization for continued reconciliation in Northern Ireland. The IAUC has issued a plea to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to intervene and have the subpoena rescinded, claiming the subpoenaed documents would endanger the reconciliation process in Northern Ireland.

“Release of the materials sought by the subpoenas would be contrary to the foreign policy and national security interests of the U.S. because they have a high potential for severely undermining the peace process, which has been an important foreign policy objective of the U.S. for the past 15 years,” said Thomas J. Burke, Jr., national president of the IAUC, in his letter to Clinton.

“As you are aware, the United States, under the administration of former president Clinton, was a principal architect of the Good Friday Agreement, or ‘GFA’ [also known as the Belfast Agreement] signed in 1998 by the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland. The results of this historic agreement have been the establishment of stability and relative calm to the North of Ireland.”

“In sum, the information sought has a serious potential for destabilizing the peace process and, by extension, U.S. national security interests,” Burke said. “The IAUC therefore urgently requests that you communicate with Attorney General Eric Holder, regarding the serious national security implications raised by the subject subpoenas, and for that reason request that the subpoenas be withdrawn.”

Representatives from the IAUC could not be reached for additional comment on their request to Clinton or other efforts to annul the request for records.

The concern of the IAUC over the impact of the release of the tapes on the reconciliation process in Northern Ireland echoes the position of the University. BC maintains that relinquishing interviews prior to the death of interviewees as promised by the Project coordinators would not only violate an agreement, but also jeopardize the safety of the participants in the Belfast Project, the peace process in Northern Ireland, and academic freedom.

“The University’s ongoing position has been that the premature release of the tapes could threaten the safety of the participants, the enterprise of oral history, and the ongoing peace and reconciliation process in Northern Ireland,” said University Spokesman Jack Dunn, in a previous interview.

Prosecutors maintain that BC had no authority to grant confidentiality and that justice for a crime supersedes academic privilege.

Despite the increased concern from outside organizations, officials declined to comment further on the case.

“Many Irish and Irish-American groups have expressed interest in this case, and offered opinions and support in varying ways. While all are welcome to do so, we prefer not to comment on the case until it is resolved in the U.S. District Court.”

Prolonging the ordeal, Judge Joseph Tauro removed himself from the case stating conflict of interest. His son, Christopher Tauro, is a partner at Edwards Wildman Palmer, the firm representing the interests of BC in the case. Judge William Young has been assigned to the case.

Irish News Responds to Moloney Criticism

Irish News Responds to Moloney Criticism
The Wild Geese
Thursday, October 20, 2011

Parts of an interview we at TheWildGeese.com conducted in September with former Belfast Project Director Ed Moloney concern three February 18, 2010, Irish News articles that were based on information evidently gathered from former Provisional IRA senior operative Dolours Price. In those portions of our Q&A, Moloney attempted to provide background to the British authorities’ interest in the oral history that Price provided to Boston College’s Belfast Project. In doing so, Moloney condemned actions he ascribed to the Irish News staff during its information gathering at Price’s home prior to the Irish News articles’ publication. Irish News Editor Noel Doran approached TheWildGeese.com shortly after our Moloney interview was published, requesting the opportunity to respond to Moloney. We had, in fact, reached out to Irish News reporter Allison Morris prior to release of our interview with Moloney, but had received no response. Acknowledging our lack of success in getting an Irish News perspective before publication, we invited Doran to address Moloney’s criticism, and he sent us the following statement, which we publish here, unedited, in its entirety.
__________________________________________________________

To the Editor:

It is genuinely surprising to find a journalist with Ed Moloney’s experience directly questioning editorial standards at the Irish News but making the elementary mistake of failing to establish the newspaper’s point of view.

As a result, Moloney attributes words and deeds to members of staff at the Irish News which bear little or no resemblance to the truth of the matter. I am grateful to TheWildGeese.com for providing me with the opportunity to set the record straight.

To begin with my own position, I can say with certainty, as editor of the Irish News, that I have not heard from Moloney for over a decade, and yet he has managed to produce an entirely flawed account of two short telephone calls in which I was involved last year.

In his contribution to TheWildGeese.com, Moloney says that I spoke to a person he strangely refers to only as the aunt of the son of Dolours Price. It is hard to understand why Moloney did not identify this individual as Marion Price, a prominent figure in Irish republicanism for almost 40 years.

Marion Price did indeed telephone me in Febuary, 2010, after her sister, Dolours, had made a number of approaches to us and invited an Irish News representative to speak to her at her Co. Dublin home.

According to Moloney, “She (Marion Price) then phoned the editor of the Irish News, and, after much discussion, he said that he would use the interview but agreed to keep ‘the juicy bits’ out to minimize the damage to Dolours Price, which he did.”

What actually happened was that Marion Price telephoned me and asked if we were planning to run an interview with her sister. I said we were still pursuing our research and I would get back to her when we had reached a conclusion.

I rang her back some days later to say that we had decided against publishing an interview with her sister but we would be carrying a statement from Dolours Price which confirmed that she intended to engage with the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) — more commonly known as the commission for the Disappeared. Marion Price thanked me for calling her and ended the conversation.

Although Moloney claims that this outcome was reached “after much discussion,” both of my two telephone calls with Marion Price were actually brief and the second lasted rather less than one minute.

What is more concerning is Moloney’s specific allegation that I had agreed to keep “the juicy bits” out of an interview. Neither Marion Price nor I used such a phrase or dealt with such a request at any time, and — as the accompanying cuttings show — we never set out to publish an interview with Dolours Price in the first place

Our report of February 18, 2010, could hardly be more clear and strongly focused on Dolours Price’s plans to speak to the commission for the Disappeared, an important and plainly newsworthy development which also provided her with the considerable protection of immunity from prosecution over any statements she might make in this context. We understand that Dolours Price honoured this arrangement.

It is verging on the bizarre that Moloney could describe our coverage of this date as an interview when it did not include a single quotation from Dolours Price, and it is striking that, throughout his version of our story, he managed to avoid even a single reference to the crucial role of the commission for the Disappeared.

Our initial dealings with Dolours Price came about when she telephoned the Irish News and said she wished to offer her comments on an interview which we had just published with the president of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams.

I asked a senior news reporter, Allison Morris, to take on this responsibility, and, by agreement, an arrangement was made for a meeting at the Co. Dublin home of Dolours Price.

Allison Morris, accompanied by a staff photographer who can corroborate the encounter, spoke amicably, professionally and in some detail to Dolours Price, and was never asked by anyone to stop the conversation.

Only when Allison Morris was preparing to leave was she asked to take a telephone call from Marion Price, who was informed that — as she subsequently did — she should address any concerns she might have to myself as editor.

It has been well documented that many Irish people who have survived the violence of the last four decades and beyond, including activists on all sides, politicans and indeed journalists, have suffered negative consequences to their health.

This does not preclude them from offering an opinion on their experiences, although it is reasonable to expect that newspapers should acknowledge, as we did in our front page report of February 18, 2010, those who have a particular medical history.

Dolours Price has provided her own testimony on many previous occasions, including her dealings with the organisers of the Boston College project before and after her involvement with the Irish News.

She continued to offer her thoughts to the Irish News after we carried our reports of February 18, 2010, and no member of her family has subsequently raised any issues over our coverage.

Perhaps the single most remarkable aspect of Moloney’s intervention was the following claim about our dealings with Dolours Price — ‘Whether the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) have ever tried to obtain the Irish News tape is a mystery, which no one seems able to solve. ‘

Moloney would have been able to solve this ‘mystery’ himself by a single telephone call to the Irish News, through which we would have readily confirmed that we were contacted by the PSNI some 16 months after our report about Dolours Price.

Detectives routinely approach the main Belfast-based news organisations in connections with various investigations, and it is our policy to observe our responsibilities as both journalists and citizens in this regard.

Accordingly, we informed the detectives both personally and in writing that we fully stood over our coverage of February 18, 2010, but we were no longer in possession of any research material which could possibly be of relevance to their inquiries. We have not subsequently heard from them.

Moloney’s final allegation is that a tape provided by the Irish News was the basis for a subsequent article in the Sunday Life newspaper. I am completely satisfied this is untrue, and yet again Moloney made no attempt to check the background with the Irish News before going public with his claim.

The Irish News did not make any tape recordings of Dolours Price available to other journalists or publications. Many other outlets have carried reports about Dolours Price down the years but the Irish News is only responsible for its own content.

I appreciate the many pressures which Moloney is facing over his Boston College project, but the criticisms he directs against the Irish News are completely without foundation.

Noel Doran
Editor
The Irish News

Sec. Clinton asked to intervene on subpoena for oral histories of IRA members

Sec. Clinton asked to intervene on subpoena for oral histories of IRA members
By Daniel Strauss – 10/13/11
The Hill’s Blog Briefing Room

The Irish American Unity Conference, an ‪interest group working for peace in Northern Ireland‬, is asking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to intervene on its behalf and stop a subpoena from the Department of Justice requiring Boston College to hand over interviews of members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army.

The conference says that the documents Attorney General Eric Holder’s office has subpoenaed would endanger the peace process in Northern Ireland.

“At the request of the United Kingdom, the United States Attorney in Boston has caused the issuance of subpoenas to the Trustees of Boston College and two of its representatives, seeking the production of materials gathered and maintained by Boston College’s Bums Library which contain sensitive information and allegations concerning the Troubles in Northern Ireland,” IAUC National President Thomas J. Burke Jr. wrote in a letter to Clinton on Wednesday.

“If released, the materials sought have serious potential to destabilize the peace process, which remains fragile and currently faces challenges from various elements from dissident nationalists and loyalist elements,” Burke continued. “The IAUC requests that you convey to the Attorney General the serious foreign policy and national security interests implicated by the subpoenas.”

The documents in question contain interviews with Dolours Price, a member of Provisional Irish Republican Army who makes allegations against Gerry Adams, now a politician.

The interviews are part of a larger collection of members of both the Irish Republican Army and the British Ulster Volunteer Force, the Catholic and Protestant groups which clashed in the second half of the Twentieth Century.
The tapes were meant to be made public after the person being interviewed had died, but the interviews under subpoena are with some people who are still alive.

The IAUC, along with Boston College, is resisting the subpoena, arguing that releasing the information would harm the national security of the U.S. by “undermining the peace process which has been an important foreign policy objective of the United States for the past fifteen years.”

“While the contents of the subpoenaed materials are unknown to the public, it is likely that they contain material that will result in recriminations and undermine trust among various parties, and could lead to a new round of violence in Northern Ireland,” the letter states.

The U.S. attorney’s office argues that the library “made promises they could not keep — that they would conceal evidence of murder and other crimes until the the perpetrators were in their graves.”

According to Ned McGinley, a former national president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, another group contesting the subpoena, releasing the documents could endanger the people interviewed.

“Those interviews are not evidence. They were not taken under oath,” McGinley said in a phone interview. The subpoenas are “really objectionable for three reasons. The principle reason being of course the subpoenas have nothing to do with foreign policy and national security of the United States. The release of those oral histories could endanger the lives of those who provided them. All of these people were combatants.”

McGinley stressed that the lives of the people on the tapes would be in danger if the tapes were made public. He said that the effort to release the documents was to politically discredit a politician in Ireland.

“We just don’t think they should go on a fishing expedition here,” McGinley said. “We just think it’s politically wrong.”

He said that it would be appropriate if there was a factual or national security basis for releasing the tapes but, in this case, there is not.

“The IAUC therefore urgently requests that you communicate with Attorney General Eric Holder, regarding the serious national security implications raised by the subject subpoenas, and for that reason request that the subpoenas be withdrawn,” Burke concludes in the letter.

IAUC Letter to Secretary of State on Boston College Subpoenas

IAUC Letter to Secretary of State on Boston College Subpoenas
IRISH AMERICAN UNITY CONFERENCE
PO Box 55573 • Washington, D.C. 20040

October 12,2011

Hon. Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20520

Re: Good Friday Agreement/
UK subpoena of Boston College records

Dear Secretary Clinton:

On behalf of the Irish American Unity Conference (“lAUC”), I write to call your attention to an urgent matter that threatens the peace process in Northern Ireland, and to request your assistance. At the request of the United Kingdom, the United States Attorney in Boston has caused the issuance of subpoenas to the Trustees of Boston College and two of its representatives, seeking the production of materials gathered and maintained by Boston College’s Bums Library which contain sensitive information and allegations concerning the Troubles in Northern Ireland. If released, the materials sought have serious potential to destabilize the peace process, which remains fragile and currently faces challenges from various elements from dissident nationalists and loyalist elements. The IAUC requests that you convey to the Attorney General the serious foreign policy and national security interests implicated by the subpoenas.

The legal proceedings, initiated on May 3, 2011, are currently pending before the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts in IN RE: Request from the United Kingdom Pursuant to the Treaty Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Kingdom on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters in the Matter of Dolours Price, M.B.D. No.: 11-MC-91078 (JLT). Strong legal arguments have been raised by Boston College and intervenors that the subpoenas are not consistent with the US-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) or with the Extradition Act. In particular, Article 3, Section 1 of the MLAT provides

“the Central Authority [i.e., the Attorney General] may refuse assistance if:
(a) the Requested Party [the United States] is of the opinion that the request, if granted, would impair its sovereignty, security, or other essential interests or would be contrary to important public policy; [or] …
(c) the request relates to an offence that is regarded by the [United States] as:
(i) an offence of a political character. … “

Release of the materials sought by the subpoenas would be contrary to the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States because they have a high potential for severely undermining the peace process which has been an important foreign policy objective of the United States for the past fifteen years. As you are aware, the United States, under the administration of President Clinton, was a principal architect of the Good Friday Agreement, or “GFA” (also known as the Belfast Agreement) signed in 1998 by the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The results of this historic agreement have been the establishment of stability and relative calm to the North of Ireland.

However, the Northern Ireland peace process is at a delicate juncture because certain elements exist who, for their own reasons, are staunchly opposed to the GFA and seek to undermine and dismantle the progress that has been made. While the contents of the subpoenaed materials are unknown to the public, it is likely that they contain material that will result in recriminations and undermine trust among various parties, and could lead to a new round of violence in Northern Ireland. In sum, the information sought has a serious potential for destabilizing the peace process and, by extension, U.S. national security interests.

The timing and focus of the subpoenas strongly suggest that they are politically and personally motivated to expose certain individuals to danger and to disrupt the peace process. The subpoenas command production of audio and video recordings of “any and all interviews containing information about the [1972] abduction and death of Mrs. Jean McConville,” along with “written transcripts, summaries, and indices of such interviews …. ” The subpoenas were initiated in the immediate wake of unexpected success of nationalists in the February 2011 elections to the Irish Parliament in Dublin, and at a time when “dissident republicans” and hardline Loyalists have become increasingly active in trying to undo the peace. Further, The British government’s focus on a single killing in 1972 contrasts sharply with the United Kingdom’s refusal to pursue investigations of crimes involving the death of many more victims, such as the 1974 Dublin-Monaghan murders (33 civilians killed), the 1971 Ballymurphy Massacre (11 civilians killed), the 1971 McGurk’s Bar bombing (15 civilians killed), and until last year, the 1972 Bloody Sunday murders (14 civilians killed).

The IAUC therefore urgently requests that you communicate with Attorney General Eric Holder, regarding the serious national security implications raised by the subject subpoenas, and for that reason request that the subpoenas be withdrawn.

Respectfully,
Thomas J. Burke, Jr.
National President

BC Archive Case Appears Politically Motivated

BC archive case appears politically motivated
Irish Echo
BY TOM FOX
OCTOBER 12TH, 2011

Great Britain is using two subpoenas to compel Boston College (BC) to deliver oral history interviews of participants in the conflict in Northern Ireland.

The interviews are known as the Belfast Project. In March, 2011, the subpoenas were issued pursuant to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between the United States and Britain (UK).

Technically, The U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts issued the subpoenas at the request of Great Britain. BC has moved to quash the subpoenas.

The case is in the Federal District Court for Massachusetts. Great Britain is not, technically, a party to the case. Rather, the U.S. Attorney is defending the subpoena on Britain’s behalf.

There have been a couple of rounds of briefs by the parties. On September 1, the Belfast Project’s two principal interviewers filed a motion to intervene in the case. The case is before Judge Tauro and is numbered 11-MC91078 (JLT) Docket # 18.

BC is arguing that the subpoenas should be quashed because they threaten oral history research and because disclosure could put people’s lives at risk.

The U.S. Attorney argues that the MLAT automatically entitles Britain to subpoena the interviews with no discretion by the court to consider the kind of damage that concerns BC.

The interveners argue that Britain made assurances to the Senate during Extradition Treaty hearings that offenses prior to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA) offenses were off the table, and that those assurances preclude Britain from using the MLAT for a politically motivated investigation or prosecution. The case is pending.

The Belfast Project is an academic effort to create sources for historians and others to help understand the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Between 2000 and 2006, the Belfast Project recorded oral histories of Irish Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries. The interviews are archived at Burns Library at Boston College with the understanding that none would be released until the death of the interviewees.

The contents of the interviews are not even known to Boston College officials. The Project’s two principal interviewers were Ed Moloney, a journalist and author, and Anthony McIntyre, a former IRA member and now a PhD.

The subpoenas revolve around the 1972 killing of Jean McConville in Belfast. In 1999, after the Good Friday Agreement, the IRA admitted that it has killed Mrs. McConville for alleged informing. In 2006, the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman issued a report finding that that the police and other government authorities never conducted a significant investigation of Mrs. McConville’s death.

The first subpoena sought interviews of two former IRA members, Brendan Hughes and Delours Price. They had given newspaper interviews stating that they had been involved in Mrs. McConville’s killing and that Gerry Adams had somehow been involved in ordering it.

Mr. Hughes has since died.

Boston College has already delivered the Hughes interviews to the British government voluntarily, because his death satisfied the condition of confidentiality until death under which the interviews were given. The second subpoena seeks all interviews, of anyone, that mention Mrs. McConville.

Great Britain’s motivation for the subpoenas is apparently highly political, rather than a matter of ordinary law enforcement. Over 3,000 people were killed during the conflict in Northern Ireland. The perpetrators included republican and loyalist paramilitaries, as well as British security forces. There are hundreds of unsolved cases where the individual perpetrator was never arrested or prosecuted. The British Government has never before used the MLAT for subpoenas about the conflict in Northern Ireland.

The Belfast Project interviews include dozens of interviews from both republican and loyalist paramilitaries which may well discuss a large number of killings.

So, the question looms. Why this one 39 year old case? And, why now?

Mrs. McConville’s death was terrible and tragic. But so were hundreds of others. Why is the UK not seeking evidence regarding Pat Finucane or Rosemary Nelson or some of the hundreds of others killed by loyalists?

The answer has to be a British political decision to pursue the McConville case, and to not pursue others. Only one fact sets the McConville case apart from the hundreds of other tragic unsolved killings. There is some indication that interviews in the McConville case might somehow implicate Gerry Adams – a highly political figure.

The exact nature of Britain’s political reason for targeting Adams now is not publicly known. The British Government has kept its decision making process on this matter secret from the outside world.

It may well be that even the United States Government does not know Britain’s motivation. Legal experts and journalist examining this case have put forward two theories as to why the British Government is targeting Gerry Adams now. The theories are not mutually exclusive.

One theory is that a rogue element within the Police Service of Northern Ireland, with long standing hostility towards Adams, started the subpoena process and higher-ups in the British Government feared public embarrassment if they stopped the subpoena.

A second possible British motivation is that higher echelons in the British Government want to damage Adams and Sinn Féin now because of their rising political power in the government of the Republic of Ireland.

Ireland has suffered a devastating financial and economic collapse. Sinn Féin’s party platform is that the Irish Government and people should not bail out the financial institutions and bondholders left holding billions in bad debt.

A very high portion of those financial institutions and bondholders are British.

In the February 25, 2011, Irish Dáil elections, Sinn Féin had remarkable success. Gerry Adams led the party’s ballot. Sinn Féin is now the largest party in the Dáil opposed to the Irish Government’s bailout of bondholders. The British Government, acting through the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, started the court process for the Boston College subpoena in March, 2011.

The United States has a long standing policy against helping other countries, particularly Britain, with politically motivated law enforcement and prosecutions.

That conflict has usually played out in extradition cases, where “political offenses” were traditionally exempted from extradition to Britain, as well as to virtually all other countries.

During the 1970s and 80s, American federal judges regularly refused to extradite IRA members to Great Britain because their crimes were committed as part of a political struggle. Joe Doherty might be the most famous of these cases.

Unhappy with this outcome, Britain, in 1985, prevailed upon the U.S State Department to accept a Supplementary Extradition Treaty which took away the political offense exemption for many types of offenses. The U.S. Senate eventually approved the treaty, but only after inserting a defense to extradition if a court finds that the person is sought, or would face trial or punishment, because of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions.

The end result might be characterized as “political offense exception light.”

Yet, Great Britain was still dissatisfied with the extradition treaty. In 2003, Britain persuaded the State Department to further weaken protections from politically motivated prosecutions. For several years, the U.S. Senate refused to accept the changes because of the history of politically motivated prosecutions during the conflict in Northern Ireland, especially for offenses prior to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a series of hearings on the subject. The Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Brehon Law Society, and the Irish American Unity Conference led the opposition to the new treaty.

On at least eight occasions during the hearings, the British Government and the U.S. Justice Department assured the Senate that pre-GFA offenses arising from the conflict in Northern Ireland would be off the table for extradition under the new treaty.

The Senate eventually ratified the 2003 Extradition Treaty in 2006. The Senate partially accepted Britain’s assurances about pre-GFA offenses being off the table, but felt compelled to incorporate those assurances into the treaty ratification, itself.

The whole story is laid out in Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, “Extradition Between the United States and Great Britain: The 2003 Treaty”.

The Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) and extradition treaty are closely connected. They were negotiated, signed, considered by the Senate, and ratified contemporaneously.

The treaties were sold to the Senate as being necessary for effective cross border law enforcement in a post-9/11 world, particularly for terrorism and money laundering.

It appears that the Boston College subpoenas are the first time that Britain has sought U.S. subpoenas for offenses stemming from the conflict in Northern Ireland, ostensibly ended with the GFA 13 years ago.

When the MLAT was signed and approved by the U.S. Senate, there was no ostensible reason to believe that the MLAT would be used for subpoenas for pre-GFA offenses, especially in light of Britain’s assurances that pre-GFA offenses were off the table.

If the courts allow Britain to use the MLAT in this obviously politically motivated case, the MLAT should be revised similar to the extradition treaty to ensure that it is not used for pre-GFA cases.

The above argument was prepared by Albany, NY-based attorney Thomas Fox in conjunction with Jim Cullen and Ned McGinley, special advisors to the national presidents of the Irish American Unity Conference, Brehon Law Society, and the Ancient Order of Hibernians respectively.

Kerry Alerted to BC Case

Kerry alerted to BC case
Irish Echo
OCTOBER 12TH, 2011
Representatives of Irish American organizations have held discussions in Boston with officials in Senator John Kerry’s office, the focus of the discussion being the federal subpoena facing Boston College in the matter of the university’s Troubles archive.

Boston attorneys John Foley and James Cotter, Richard Wall and Richard Thompson, president and past president respectively of the Massachusetts AOH, and New York attorney Stephen McCabe of The Brehon Law Society and The Irish Parades Emergency Committee, briefed staffers on the background of the controversy, and the history of the various treaties between the U.S. and UK dealing with, among other matters, the issuing of subpoenas.

Senator Kerry was instrumental in obtaining assurances from the British government that offenses occurring before the Good Friday Agreement would be “off the table” and would not be reopened, a statement from the Irish American delegation said

“Also discussed was the chilling effect the actions of Great Britain in issuing the subpoenas to BC would have on oral history projects, and the first amendment questions raised when journalists are requested to divulge information obtained in confidence,” the statement said.

“Senator Kerry’s staff expressed concern over the implications raised by the subpoenas and will be bringing the senator up to date,” it concluded.

Double Standards at Slugger O’Toole?

Double Standards at Slugger O’Toole?
Ed Moloney
The Broken Elbow

Slugger O’Toole is Northern Ireland’s best known and most widely-read current affairs blog. Set up by Mick Fealty in 2002, it initially concentrated on Northern Ireland matters but has gradually expanded the breadth of its coverage, and its list of contributors, to include most points on the political and geographic compass. But there’s no doubt that it is Slugger’s coverage of Northern Ireland that brings the clicks.

And Northern Ireland politics being what they are, there is no shortage of controversy about the stories that the blog posts, especially in the comments section where insults and abuse abound and often come close to violating the strict libel laws that operate in Ireland and the UK. Policing the comments section, and keeping Slugger O’Toole out of the libel courts, is surely one of Fealty’s more unenviable tasks.

Most of the time the system he put in place in recent years – requiring commenters to register and applying a ‘play the ball, not the man’ policy – seems to work and does so fairly, excluding the more egregious vilification. But like others who have had dealings with Slugger O’Toole, I have come across complaints of inconsistency and even double standards in the application of that policy, that those who are powerful, financially and politically, get a better deal than those who aren’t. Others say there are protected and unprotected species on the site, that is some journalists and public figures about whom criticism is rarely tolerated, much less abuse, and others about whom almost anything can be inferred.

Normally, I would dismiss complaints like this as sour grapes from people who came off second best in debates with opponents. Normally that would be my reaction, except I have personal experience at the hands of Slugger O’Toole and Mick Fealty that gives substance & weight to the complaint.

Back in April/May 2005 I was contacted by a friend in Belfast who suggested I have a look at some of the comments directed at me on one posting placed on the blog towards the end of April. There I read that I was “a sneaky little bully” who had no real republican sources but plenty in the security forces; that I hankered for a return to the days of “bombs and bullets” and that I had acted as adviser/policy developer and “consigliero” (sic) for the IRA leadership.

Now normally I would shrug off such slanderous nonsense. Ever since my book ‘A Secret History of the IRA’ was published I had been on the receiving end of mountains of similar abuse, mostly from Sinn Fein supporters who didn’t like what they had read between its covers. And there I would have left it except as I scanned the site I came across this, a comment posted on April 28th, 2005 by someone calling him or herself ‘Concerned Loyalist’ in response to other comments about a BBC Newsnight report that had named the membership of the IRA’s Army Council:

“Chris Gaskin,
You said that Newsnight have “put these men’s lives in danger”. How? 
Around Christmas I named, on Slugger, the exact same 7 men as IRA Army Council members, but Mick took it off as he felt it could be libellous, which is fair enough……
Concerned Loyalist”

I have to say that enraged me. Double standards in the treatment of people always do. Mick Fealty had moved immediately to protect the reputation of people who had directed a campaign of bombing, shooting & death in Ireland for many years yet had done nothing at all when I, a reporter of some standing, was called an IRA “consigliero”.

I am not a person who likes to contemplate suing. I dislike the libel laws which I believe are constructed more to protect the rich & powerful and to hide their excesses from public scrutiny than to prevent malicious commentary about innocent people. I didn’t want to sue in this case but I did write to Mick Fealty asking that the comments about me be removed. My first letter was ignored but eventually a lengthy correspondence ensued. However it wasn’t until the end of July that the matter was brought to an end, admittedly in a less than satisfactory way, and the comments removed. The Army Council got immediate satisfaction; I had to wait nearly three months.

Last week, Mick Fealty removed another posting from his site that concerned myself, but this time most definitely not at my request or wish. I had given an interview to an Irish-American website called TheWildGeese.com about the ongoing legal and political struggle to prevent the US authorities from confiscating archived interviews with former IRA members, notably Dolours Price, lodged in the archives of Boston College on behalf, we suspect, of the PSNI. But we don’t know for sure who is behind this as the subpoenas have, in echoes of the days of the Star Chamber, been sealed to maintain secrecy.

Those involved in our campaign had been investigating the background to the subpoenas, and particularly how the authorities in Northern Ireland and the US had come to know that Dolours Price had been interviewed by Boston College, whose project to collect paramilitary oral history had been overseen by myself. Over the past months we had worked out the following explanation for events:

♦ while a patient at a psychiatric hospital in Dublin, Dolours Price had been interviewed on tape by Allison Morris of the Irish News paper in Belfast about the background to the disappearance of Jean McConville amongst others. The interview took place at her home when she was on weekend leave from the hospital but technically still under its care;
♦ that during the interview, one of Dolours Price’s sons arrived unexpectedly, realised what was happening and that his mother was in no fit mental state to be interviewed and asked Morris to leave. She didn’t, the son contacted one of his aunts who, by phone also asked her to leave; she again stayed put;
♦ that on learning of the interview the Price family had asked the Irish News not to run the interview because of her distressed & unreliable mental state;
♦ that the editor of the Irish News agreed a compromise with the Price family, that “the juicy bits”, as one family member put it, would be not be used;
♦ that the editor of the Irish News, Noel Doran had kept his side of the deal but his reporter Allison Morris had not and instead had passed her tape of Dolours Price onto a friend, Ciaran Barnes in the Sunday Life tabloid newspaper in what was a blatant betrayal of the arrangement agreed to and honoured by her editor;

♦ that Ciaran Barnes had written a report with all “the juicy bits” most definitely included and wrote his report in such a way that it appeared that he had been given access to Dolours Price’s interview with Boston College and that the details of his subsequent report in the Sunday Life, including her alleged role in the disappearance of Jean McConville and others, had come from that interview;
♦ that Ciaran Barnes most definitely had not been given access to Boston College’s archive and that neither he nor anyone else knew what Dolours Price had said in her interview which was given when she was in a much healthier and rational mental state;
♦ that Dolours Price did not have, and could not have had, a copy of her interviews with Boston College and therefore could not have been the source for any tape recording of herself given to Boston College. The only copies of interviews carried out for the Belfast Project on behalf of Boston College were lodged at the Burns Library on the campus in Boston with access limited to the librarian, Dr Robert K O’Neill;
♦ that Ciaran Barnes’ motive in behaving in this way, to infer or otherwise suggest that he had been given access to Boston College’s tape, was to hide the fact that his information had come instead from Allison Morris’ tape and that Morris’ role in betraying her source Dolours Price, and undermining her editor, would remain hidden.

Be in no doubt about the seriousness of all this. In order to justify the PSNI’s subpoenas against Boston College, the office of the US Attorney in Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz cited the Sunday Life report as a causal factor for her legal action and took Barnes’ inference that he had listened to the Boston College tape to a higher level, saying:

“Ms. Price’s interviews by Boston College were the subject of news reports published in Northern Ireland in 2010, in which Ms. Price admitted her involvement in the murder and ‘disappearances’ of at least four persons whom the IRA targeted: Jean McConville, Joe Lynskey, Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee…..Moreover according to one news report, the reporter was permitted to listen to portions of Ms. Price’s Boston College interviews.”

In other words, Ms Ortiz was saying: ‘We are demanding these interviews at Boston College because we have reason to believe, thanks to Mr Barnes’ journalism in the Sunday Life, that they include her confession to the disappearance of Jean McConville and others. Furthermore because Boston College evidently gave Dolours Price’s interviews to Ciaran Barnes or Dolours Price gave them to Barnes, the promise of confidentiality given to all interviewees had been broken and Boston College could no longer claim the protection of that promise. So please hand them over right now!’

Thanks to their deception and trickery Allison Morris and Ciaran Barnes have substantial and direct responsibility for this attempt to raid the archives of Boston College, an effort which has the potential to imperil the future of oral history in the United States, destroy Boston College’s invaluable historical archive and put myself and my researcher Anthony McIntyre in countless difficulties. A straight line can be drawn, in other words, between their behaviour and the subpoenas served on Boston College. Without the former, the latter could and would not have happened.

It was for this reason that in my interview with The Wild Geese website I said that “Boston College is the victim of journalistic ethics that are on a par with Rupert Murdoch’s hacking operations”. Notice, I did not say News International’s criminal behaviour but their ethical behaviour. And what I meant was that the deception of Morris and Barnes and Murdoch’s hacking shared the same disrespect for and mistreatment of sources in the search for headlines, a sensational story and professional advancement.

There is substantial reason to believe that Ciaran Barnes also broke the section of the Press Complaints Council’s code of behaviour which states, inter alia:“The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information…..”, while Allison Morris could be accused of contravening the section which says: “They (reporters) must not persist in questioning, telephoning, pursuing or photographing individuals once asked to desist; nor remain on their property when asked to leave and must not follow them…..”

This is a story that asks very hard questions of the Northern Ireland media. There are other reasons why the story is of considerable public interest, or rather questions that arise about the PSNI’s handling of this affair which make it so:

♦ Have the Irish News and/or Sunday Life been subpoena’d by the PSNI to hand over Allison Morris’ taped interview with Dolours Price?
♦ Does the Allison Morris tape still exist or has it been destroyed?
♦ Did the PSNI ever make any effort to discover if there was a tape recording of Dolours Price’s interview separate from those in the Boston College archives and if so, when did they make it? Was it immediately after the reports appeared in the Irish News & Sunday Life or did the PSNI wait, and if so, for how long?
♦ Has the PSNI ever attempted to interview Allison Morris and/or Ciaran Barnes about these matters?
♦ Does the Irish News have any other record or proof of Allison Morris’ interview with Dolours Price? If so, what is it and a) has the newspaper handed it over to the PSNI or b) has the PSNI subpoena’d it or even inquired about it?
♦ Has the PSNI handled this matter in such a way that local media sources remain unaffected and unharmed by their inquiry while the brunt falls upon Boston College?

These are all questions which, as I say, make this a story of overwhelming public interest in Northern Ireland, especially as society there grapples with the vexed problems of how to deal with the past. My interview with The WIld Geese was immediately noticed by Slugger O’Toole contributor Mark McGregor who recognised its significance and wrote it up in a lengthy blog which he posted on the site at 7.24 pm (Belfast time) on Monday, October 11th. It stayed there for three hours or so, after which Mick Fealty removed it.

Mick Fealty has yet, at the time of this posting, to make any reference to this incident on his blog much less explain why he acted in the way he did. I am told that he did this because of a fear of legal action against his site. Perhaps he will now come forward to explain so we can judge whether the threat was a real one or, as often happens with more powerful, influential and affluent parties, it was merely a bluff to kill off the story before it spiraled out of control.

In the meantime here is the post that was removed from Slugger O’Toole. Enjoy.

“Mark McGregor,  Mon 10 October 2011, 7:24pm

“When I asked ‘Did local media have a role in the Boston College case?’ I noted how articles by Allison Morris and Ciaran Barnes appeared central to the case being pursued in the US courts by the Attorney General to access oral history archives on behalf of an unknown wing of the British State. Their articles remain Exhibits 1 & 2 in the case.

“Mick later followed up noting a Private Eye article that states:

The subpoenas are based on a false claim that one of the interviews with Price, published in the Sunday Life newspaper in February last year, was based on an interview with the Boston College project

“Now Ed Moloney in an interview with TheWildGeese.com goes much further placing Morris and Barnes central to this case and seemingly with questions to answer:

In February 2010, Dolours was in a psychiatric hospital in Dublin and while there she contacted the Irish News in Belfast and said she had things to tell the paper. That weekend, she was given leave to go home, but she was technically still under psychiatric care from the hospital. The Irish News’ journalist Allison Morris arrived at her home and tape-recorded the interview. Dolours told a story about her involvement in the disappearance of several people in 1972, including Jean McConville. Toward the end of the interview, one of her sons arrived home and realized what was happening. He told Morris that his mother was a psychiatric patient, was taking drugs and was not in a fit state to give anyone an interview, that whatever she said was totally unreliable. He demanded that the interview end and that the tape not be used. Morris refused. He then phoned his aunt, who repeated the demand and was again refused. She then phoned the editor of the Irish News, and, after much discussion, he said that he would use the interview but agreed to keep “the juicy bits” out to minimize the damage to Dolours Price, which he did. We believe that what happened next was that Allison Morris betrayed Dolours Price and reneged on the agreement with her family and passed the tape on to a friend, Ciaran Barnes, who worked in the Sunday Life, a tabloid Belfast newspaper. He wrote up the story with “the juicy bits” very much in, and, in order to disguise the fact that he had got the information from Allison Morris’ tape, wrote the piece in such a way that it appeared that he had gained access to Dolours Price’s taped interviews at Boston College, which needless to say was impossible.It is on the basis of this deception that the subpoenas were served on Boston College, that the information in Barnes’ article came from BC when it didn’t. The information, in fact, came from the Irish News tape, which was passed on, in contravention of an agreement with Dolours Price’s family, to Barnes. Whether the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) have ever tried to obtain the Irish News tape is a mystery, which no one seems able to solve. But there is no doubt that the subpoenas served on BC are based on a lie, that the admissions Dolours Price allegedly made and which were reported in the Sunday Life came from Boston College. They did not. …

This is what the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney (Carmen M. Ortiz) had to say in her subpoena (see page 4 of link) to justify the demand for Dolours Price’s interviews: “Ms. Price’s interviews by Boston College were the subject of news reports published in Northern Ireland in 2010, in which Ms. Price admitted her involvement in the murder and ‘disappearances’ of at least four persons whom the IRA targeted: Jean McConville, Joe Lynskey, Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee. See Exhibits 1 and 2Moreover according to one news report, the reporter was permitted to listen to portions of Ms. Price’s Boston College interviews.”

That last sentence is a lie. He (Barnes) was not and never would be permitted access to Boston College’s interviews. Boston College is the victim of journalistic ethics in Belfast that are on a par with Rupert Murdoch’s hacking operations, and you can quote me.”

[emphasis added]

“Given Moloney’s statements questions may arise at the Society of Editors, Regional Press Awards as they declared Morris DAILY/SUNDAY REPORTER OF THE YEAR based on a three piece portfolio of work including that Price interview.

“I closed my initial blog with – Given the use of these articles to expedite the subpeona, it is surprising these publications and journalists have not been more proactive in examining this issue, their role in its advancement and just how valuable their articles are as a possible central plank for legal action. Moloney’s claim of an integrity issue may go some way to explain the reluctance from both journalists and publications to examine the role they had from the outset.”

Finucane family anger at inquiry snub

Finucane family anger at inquiry snub
UTV

The family of Pat Finucane have spoke of their anger after the Prime Minister ruled out a public inquiry into the loyalist murder of the Catholic solicitor.

Relatives, who met David Cameron in London on Tuesday afternoon, were expecting to hear that a public inquiry would be held into his death.

However, an 18-month long QC-led review into the circumstances of his murder has been offered instead, with no particicipation from the family.

Mr Finucane was gunned down by loyalist paramilitaries in front of his wife and children in his north Belfast home in 1989.

His family wanted a Bloody Sunday-style independent inquiry into allegations of collusion between the killers and security forces.

They travelled to London to meet Secretary of State Owen Paterson and Mr Cameron to find out if an inquiry would be held and, if granted, under what terms.

Mr Finucane’s widow, Geraldine, says she was insulted by what was offered by the PM and called a halt to the meeting.

‘I can barely speak to the media on this occasion, I am so angry,” she told reporters outside 10 Downing Street.

I am so angry and so insulted by being brought to Downing Street today to hear what the Prime Minister had on offer.Geraldine Finucane
Mrs Finucane said she could not understand how “yet another review of papers” could be justified.

“He is offering a review. He wants a QC to read the papers in my husband’s case and that is how he expects to reach the truth.”

Retired Canadian judge Peter Cory, who examined allegations of collusion surrounding the Finucane and other controversial killings at the request of the British and Irish governments, recommended a public inquiry into the death.

Mr Finucane’s son, Michael, who also attended Tuesday’s meeting, accused the Prime Minister of “reneging on a commitment that the previous government made to hold a public inquiry”.

He said that Mr Cameron had given the “feeble” explanation that public inquiries had not worked in similar cases.

“He seemed oblivious to the fact that the absence of participation by our family would mean we simply couldn’t support what he proposed,” he added.

The family said they would continue their campaign for a full independent public inquiry.

A Downing Street spokesman said that Mr Cameron told the Finucanes that investigations by Judge Cory and John Stevens, then deputy chief constable of Cambridgeshire Police, demonstrated there had been state collusion in the murder.

The Prime Minister expressed his profound sympathy for the family and said it was clear from Stevens and Cory that state collusion had taken place in Mr Finucane’s murder.Downing Street spokesman
“He accepted these conclusions and on behalf of the Government he apologised to the family,” the spokesman added.

“He confirmed that the Government’s priority was to get to the truth in the best and most effective way.

“The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will set out the details of this process shortly,” he said.

The Irish Government has pledged to support the family in their bid to obtain an inquiry.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said, while speaking in the Dáil, that if Geraldine Finucane was not happy with the outcome of her meeting with the Prime Minister, then the house would not be happy either.

He was responding to comments from Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin leader and Louth TD, who called for the Irish Government to challenge the proposal.

Mr Kenny said Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore will issue an invitation to Mrs Finucane to meet the Government next week to discuss how to move forward.

“I respect the Prime Minister’s wish that the truth should be arrived at in the shortest time and that an apology should go to those who are bereaved of the loss of their father and husband,” said Mr Kenny.

“There is no price you can put on the truth,” he added.

Meanwhile, SDLP justice spokesperson Alban Maginness has described the decision as unacceptable.

The North Belfast MLA said: “After all this length of time one would have expected better from the British Government and Prime Minister on an issue that runs deep into the British military and security complex.

“It’s quite plainly unacceptable to nationalist opinion and in particular to the Finucane family which is rightly insulted by the Prime Minister’s offer of a review, rather than a proper judicial and independent inquiry.”

Mr Maginness said he wondered why the Prime Minister had “gone out of his way to raise expectations of a proper inquiry only to dash those hopes with his offer of a review.”

The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) said it had been campaigning for an inquiry for 22 years.

Gemma McKeown, Solicitor at CAJ, said: “What the British government has offered the Finucane family is nothing short of insulting. A review, to be carried out by a QC, does not constitute a proper Inquiry that upholds the rule of law.

“CAJ and the international community have campaigned for an inquiry Into Mr Finucane’s death for 22 years. It is with shock and grave disappointment that we receive today’s news.”

She continued: “The question needs to be asked as to what David Cameron and Owen Patterson now know that has made them renege on the commitment to hold a proper Inquiry.”

DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds has welcomed the outcome.

“Everyone understands the desire of relatives to get the full facts about the death of their loved one,” Mr Dodds said.

“However, history in Northern Ireland has shown that the kind of expensive open-ended inquiry demanded in some cases has not been able to bring closure for anyone involved and has actually increased community tensions.”

He said that it is “extremely unlikely” that a satisfactory outcome could ever be achieved and the offer put forward by the Government is “entirely reasonable.”

‘A Chilling Effect on Oral History in This Country’

‘A Chilling Effect on Oral History in This Country’
Q&A With ‘Belfast Project’ Director Ed Moloney
TheWildGeese.com’s Mark Connor interviews

Britain-born journalist Ed Moloney, who covered The Troubles from his posting in Belfast from 1977 to 2001, headed Boston College’s Belfast Project from its inception till its close in 2005. TheWildGeese.com’s Mark Connor put some questions to Moloney last week via Skype, about the subpoenas that the British government filed in May and August demanding access to confidential interviews that the oral-history project gathered from two IRA members. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts delivered the subpoenas on behalf of unidentified British authorities, according to news accounts. In 2002, Moloney authored “A Secret History of the IRA,” and has authored a biography of Loyalist demagogue Rev. Ian Paisley. In 2010, Moloney’s book “Voices from the Grave” was published, which features interviews, compiled as part of the Belfast Project, with two central figures in the Troubles, both now-deceased; IRA member Brendan Hughes and Ulster Volunteer Force member-turned-politician David Ervine. Moloney, now based in New York City, shared with TheWildGeese.com his concern about the threat the subpoenas pose to all oral-history projects. (For more of Moloney’s views on the subpoenas, visit his blog at http://bostoncollegesubpoena.wordpress.com/)

TheWildGeese.com: Mr. Moloney, what led you in the direction of becoming a journalist and specifically into this area of journalism?

Ed Moloney: I became a journalist partly because I hated teaching and wanted to get out of it, partly because I enjoyed both researching and writing and was just plain nosy and partly because of a fascination with the politics of Northern Ireland. I was a student at QUB (Queens University Belfast) when the civil rights struggle began, observed it up close, and, I suppose, got addicted.

At this stage, this is not an issue that affects journalists, although it may at a later stage. … It is an issue that affects academic freedom and the ability of oral historians to collect life accounts from all sorts of people. If we lose this case, it will have a chilling effect on oral history in America, and that is important. What oral history does is tell the story of people who are not powerful, but ordinary participants in society. If they are discouraged from telling their stories, it means that history and the explanation of society is even more in the control of the powerful than it already is. The sort of examples I am thinking of is, say, people who were involved in the Black Panther movement, which was very close ideologically to the IRA. If there is a risk that the FBI will come looking for their interviews in order to press criminal charges, then they will not speak to oral historians, and their stories will be lost forever. Instead, we will have to rely on the Al Sharptons of America to tell a story of which they were never a part.

WG: My understanding is that there were 60 subjects interviewed in this project. First, is that the specific number or were there more, and second, what prompted the (Belfast) Project, what was the express purpose behind it?

Ed Moloney: I have never given any figure as to the number of interviewees and never would. It was the Good Friday Agreement, or rather the end of the conflict that it signaled, that was the spur for the project. A similar project had been conducted in the South [the lower 26 counties, eventually named The Republic of Ireland] after the Anglo-Irish War, and I thought it was important to tell a similar story, that of those on both sides who had fought in the war. But the Anglo-Irish War was very short compared to the Troubles in the North. In the South, they could wait 20 years or so for passions to quiet before starting the project. Our conflict had already lasted for 30 years, those involved were getting old, especially people who had been there at the start. So there was an urgency to get it going before key people died. Essentially, it was done to ensure that the unique viewpoint of those in the trenches was told when the history of the troubles was written.

WG: How did you convince so many combatants—and specifically Irish Republican and British Loyalist—to open up to you about their involvement? Did you conduct all of these interviews or most of them yourself? Were you seen as a neutral party or generally trusted and/or suspected by your subjects as more Nationalist or Unionist in your identity when you interacted?

Ed Moloney: I did none of the interviews at all. The project would not have been possible had I tried to do that. The researchers, one for IRA (members) and one for UVF, were chosen a) because of their academic qualifications, a Ph.D. in one case, an Honours degree in the other and b) because of their own association with the groups being interviewed. It was obvious that people who had been in the IRA or UVF would not open up to journalists or other academics, but would be prepared to do so to people from their own background who they could trust. So I played no part in the interviews, and although I suggested names, it was up to the researchers to choose interviewees and persuade them to talk. Although I read the interviews and made comments and suggestions, I did not know, nor want to know who was being interviewed, although obviously I could guess at some. That way, security and trust was strengthened.

WG: As a veteran journalist, can you first describe your personal stake in these subpoenas and, secondly, elaborate on what it means for all journalists and the public at large? Are you aware of previous court rulings related to your case, and do you have an expectation of how your situation will finally be resolved?

Ed Moloney: I don’t know how our case will be resolved, but obviously we hope to win. We have a great lawyer working for us, Eamonn Dornan, who has put together a very clever argument based upon the U.S. Senate’s promise and commitment they got from the British that no person involved in anything prior to the GFA (Good Friday Agreement) could be sought for extradition in the U.S. If they can’t be extradited, then neither should their interviews be extradited. When we started this project, it was pre-9/11. Then we had the attacks, and the story thereafter in the U.S. has been one of unhampered state surveillance and unprecedented powers by people like the FBI to snoop and spy, and we, unfortunately, have been caught up in that. But for 9/11, Bush, Obama, and Osama Bin Laden, I don’t think this would be happening because the authorities wouldn’t dare.

WG: I understand that both Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price told you during interviews that Gerry Adams ordered the killing of Jean McConville. I also understand that the British government’s interest in getting a hold of the interviews includes finding evidence of who killed her. There are other implications from an intelligence point of view, including discovery of what information about British agents has been documented, in which the British government must surely also be interested. So from a journalist’s point of view and from the point of view of a citizen in a democracy, how fair do you feel the national security argument is in this or related cases, especially given that a treaty to end the conflict was signed in 1998?

Ed Moloney: Your understanding is not correct. Brendan Hughes certainly did name Adams as the person who ordered the killing of Jean McConville, but there is no evidence that in her interviews with BC (Boston College) that Dolours Price did the same. It is important to understand how this all happened and the background. Dolours Price is an IRA veteran, but she has also been psychologically scarred by her experiences in the IRA. She suffers from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome) … and suffers from substance abuse. Her condition has deteriorated in recent years, a long time after she gave her interviews to BC. In February 2010, Dolours was in a psychiatric hospital in Dublin and while there she contacted the Irish News in Belfast and said she had things to tell the paper. That weekend, she was given leave to go home, but she was technically still under psychiatric care from the hospital. The Irish News‘ journalist Allison Morris arrived at her home and tape-recorded the interview. Dolours told a story about her involvement in the disappearance of several people in 1972, including Jean McConville. Toward the end of the interview, one of her sons arrived home and realized what was happening. He told Morris that his mother was a psychiatric patient, was taking drugs and was not in a fit state to give anyone an interview, that whatever she said was totally unreliable. He demanded that the interview end and that the tape not be used. Morris refused. He then phoned his aunt, who repeated the demand and was again refused. She then phoned the editor of the Irish News, and, after much discussion, he said that he would use the interview but agreed to keep “the juicy bits” out to minimize the damage to Dolours Price, which he did. We believe that what happened next was that Allison Morris betrayed Dolours Price and reneged on the agreement with her family and passed the tape on to a friend, Ciaran Barnes, who worked in the Sunday Life, a tabloid Belfast newspaper. He wrote up the story with “the juicy bits” very much in, and, in order to disguise the fact that he had got the information from Allison Morris’ tape, wrote the piece in such a way that it appeared that he had gained access to Dolours Price’s taped interviews at Boston College, which needless to say was impossible. It is on the basis of this deception that the subpoenas were served on Boston College, that the information in Barnes’ article came from BC when it didn’t. The information, in fact, came from the Irish News tape, which was passed on, in contravention of an agreement with Dolours Price’s family, to Barnes. Whether the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) have ever tried to obtain the Irish News tape is a mystery, which no one seems able to solve. But there is no doubt that the subpoenas served on BC are based on a lie, that the admissions Dolours Price allegedly made and which were reported in the Sunday Life came from Boston College. They did not. …

This is what the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney (Carmen M. Ortiz) had to say in her subpoena to justify the demand for Dolours Price’s interviews:

“Ms. Price’s interviews by Boston College were the subject of news reports published in Northern Ireland in 2010, in which Ms. Price admitted her involvement in the murder and ‘disappearances’ of at least four persons whom the IRA targeted: Jean McConville, Joe Lynskey, Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee. See Exhibits 1 and 2. Moreover according to one news report, the reporter was permitted to listen to portions of Ms. Price’s Boston College interviews.”

That last sentence is a lie. He (Barnes) was not and never would be permitted access to Boston College’s interviews. Boston College is the victim of journalistic ethics in Belfast that are on a par with Rupert Murdoch’s hacking operations, and you can quote me.

WG: What can readers of The Wild Geese do to lend support for you in your struggle to protect your sources in the case? Is there a central location on the web or elsewhere for information and also to contact or advocate?

Ed Moloney: I would ask your readers to write to their congressmen/senators along the following lines:

PLEASE TAKE ACTION ON THIS VERY IMPORTANT ISSUE.
U. S. RESIDENTS:
Write Your Representative:
http://www.house.gov/writerep/

Tell them you are calling on them to use their good office to put an end to the legal fiasco surrounding the subpoena of oral history tapes of the IRA from Boston College by the PSNI. (Refer them to the Boston College Subpoena News on Facebook for complete details and updates).

Mention that you can’t understand why the U.S. government is taking drastic legal action against a U.S. college on behalf of a foreign government? Tell them you don’t see any reason why the U.S. has to be party to this investigation. There is nothing positive to be gained by these actions and it will only serve to jeopardize the lives of all those involved in the project.

Make sure you point out that the PSNI are only interested in republican oral histories and that they have not demanded the same access to oral histories given by loyalists. Explain that you feel the focus on IRA interviews seems to support the notion that the inquiry is “politically motivated.”

Let them know that such credible Irish organizations in the USA, namely the AOH, the Irish American Unity Conference and the Brehon Law Society have joined the campaign to help put an end to this politically motivated fishing expedition. Tell your representative that you are concerned that there exists the potential to destabilize the Good Friday Agreement if the PSNI continues to take legal action against Boston College.

Make sure you sign off by letting them know you would appreciate the courtesy of a reply from them as to how they can be of assistance in this matter.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Neither reporters Ciaran Barnes nor Allison Morris could be reached for comment on Moloney’s assertions about their actions with Morris’ interview with Dolours Price. We e-mailed Sunday Life Editor Martin Breen the following Oct. 4: “We’ve interviewed Ed Moloney about developments with the British government’s subpoenas issued to Boston College, demanding access to two interviews from its oral history project. Moloney says that one of your reporters, Ciaran Barnes, received audio of an interview conducted by Allison Morris of the Irish News with Dolours Price, and used it as the basis of some reports you published, without revealing the source of the quotations. Moloney says that Morris violated an agreement with an Irish News editor, made with Price’s family, to not cause to have published “the juiciest bits,” which, according to Moloney, subsequently appeared in Barnes’ reporting. We’d like a response from the newspaper, ideally one from Barnes himself, about these assertions. Can you assist?” The following day, Breen e-mailed TheWildGeese.com the following in reply: “Sunday Life did not name its sources in the article and has no intention of naming them now.” Moloney told TheWildGeese.com that his information about Price’s condition the day Morris interviewed Price and the details of the Irish News’ attempt to meet the concerns of Price’s family came from directly from Price’s family.]