Appeal launched against IRA tapes being handed over to police

Appeal launched against IRA tapes being handed over to police
Journalists and academics say if tapes from Old Bailey bomber Dolours Price are surrendered it will put their lives at risk
Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent
The Guardian
Friday 7 September 2012

An appeal will be launched in the US on Friday to prevent secret tapes by a former IRA bomber being handed over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The family of one of the most famous victims of the IRA – Jean McConville, a widow with 10 children – are backing PSNI attempts to seize the recorded testimony. Her daughter Helen McKendry believes the tapes contain information about decision by the IRA leadership in Belfast to order McConville’s murder and secret burial.

But journalists and academics argue that if Boston College surrenders the tapes from IRA Old Bailey bomber Dolours Price it will destroy any chance of an honest, historical inquiry into the Troubles as well as putting their lives at risk.

Lawyers for those who set up and worked for Boston College’s Belfast Project are appealing against the decision in both the US and Northern Ireland to hand over the tapes to the PSNI.

Like every other participant in the project, which included both former IRA and loyalist terrorists, Price agreed to give the interview on the condition that her account would remain confidential until after her death.

The appeals are being made by lawyers acting on behalf of writer Ed Moloney and researcher Anthony McIntyre.

The PSNI is seeking Price’s transcripts as part of their investigation into the IRA murder of McConville in 1972.

Boston College will also appeal later today to limit the handover of interviews from its Belfast Project.

In July, a US appeal court ruled that Boston College interviews should be handed over to the PSNI.

Moloney, a journalist, and McIntyre who is a former IRA member, had applied to the first circuit court of appeal for a re-hearing of the case, but this was rejected last month.

The men said they were “disappointed” but would apply for a hearing at the US supreme court because the case “addresses issues of major constitutional importance for Americans”.

They said the PSNI had applied for access to the interview transcripts under the terms of a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between the US and the UK.

In a joint statement, the men said their lawyers would argue that “the MLAT bestows upon the PSNI greater powers in relation to the serving of subpoenas in the US than could be exercised by, for instance, the FBI.

McConville’s family have urged the US authorities to ignore the appeals and press ahead with transferring the tapes to the PSNI. They
allege that the Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams, gave the order that she be “disappeared” or buried in secret to avoid the political embarrassment of the IRA being responsible for killing a widow with 10 children.

Adams has denied any involvement and has also rejected repeated claims – including by former comrades – that he was in the IRA.