2 at BC profited from book based on Troubles tapes
By Travis Andersen
FEBRUARY 27, 2012
Two Boston College employees received royalty payments from a book based on interviews conducted at the college about the conflict in Northern Ireland, even though the college has criticized the author for publishing the book.
Ed Moloney, the author of “Voices from the Grave,’’ a book published in 2010 and based on interviews he and others conducted for the Belfast Project at BC, sent e-mails to the Globe yesterday showing a record of payments totaling about $6,400 made last year to Robert K. O’Neill, librarian at the college’s John J. Burns Library, and Thomas E. Hachey, a professor of
history at BC.
The payments were first reported yesterday when Moloney gave an interview on the Irish radio program “This Week,’’ broadcast on RT Radio 1 in Dublin.
He went public after Jack Dunn, a Boston College spokesman, told RTÉ last month that Moloney published the book while knowing that doing so would carry legal risks, in part to make a profit.
“I think quite frankly Mr. Moloney was so excited for this project, and quite frankly so eager to write a book from which he would profit, that he’’ ignored the stated limits of confidentiality, Dunn told the program.
A federal judge in Boston has ordered BC to turn over some project interview transcripts to prosecutors, who subpoenaed them on behalf of British authorities investigating the 1972 abduction and murder in Belfast of Jean McConville.
Last week, the college said it would fight the order but has already turned over an earlier cache of materials, a move that infuriated Moloney and other project researchers.
They believe releasing any of the documents could endanger project participants, who gave the interviews with the understanding that their conversations would be kept secret until they died.
Court records show Moloney signed an agreement with BC in 2001 indicating that all project participants had to sign a contract stating that the interviews would be kept secret until they died “to the extent American law allows.’’
However, the agreements the interviewees signed didn’t contain that caveat.
In a statement yesterday, Dunn said the editorial compensation that Hachey and O’Neill received for the book is customary in academia. “The issue is not compensation, but rather that the book, coupled with [project participant] Dolours Price’s interview to the Irish media in which she implicated herself and [Sinn Fein leader] Gerry Adams in the abduction and murder of Jean McConville, were the likely catalysts for the first subpoena,’’ Dunn said.
Moloney said in a phone interview yesterday that BC wanted him to publish a book about the project. He forwarded an e-mail that Hachey wrote in 2009 to Moloney’s literary agent, Jonathan Williams, requesting that he and O’Neill appear on the title page with Moloney as co-editors.
Hachey also wrote “we are only interested in having some smaller part of an income stream to the Burns Library, and to the B.C. Irish Programs Center, in order possibly to help to support enterprises of this kind, and the Burns Visiting Scholar fund.’’
In a statement yesterday, Hachey said the payments he and O’Neill received were modest, considering the work they put in as editors. He also said he never suggested that BC would receive money from the publication.
“The correspondence with [Williams] was when the project was still at an early stage and Bob and I were speculating about the possible ways in which some of the revenue might be used to pursue our interest in examining further the phenomenology of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland,’’ Hachey said.
He said the possibilities included starting a new lecture series about Northern Ireland at BC – which they ultimately decided was not feasible – and launching another oral history project focusing on victims of the sectarian strife with the help of a grant. Hachey said the grant application was rejected.
- Called to Account
- Transcript: Fran McNulty Interviews Boston College Spokesperson Jack Dunn and former Belfast Project Director Ed Moloney