Boston Appeal Court Drastically Restricts Handover From Boston College Archive

Boston Appeal Court Drastically Restricts Handover From Boston College Archive
Joint statement from Ed Moloney & Anthony McIntyre on First Circuit court’s decision to heavily truncate number of Boston College interviews to be handed over to PSNI

From the very outset of the serving of these subpoenas over two years ago we have striven to resist completely the efforts by the PSNI, the British Home Office and the US Department of Justice to obtain any and all interviews from the Belfast Project archive at Boston College.

These were academic and journalistic documents of considerable historical importance to students of Irish politics and to conflict researchers to which no-one, outside of the interviewees themselves and ultimately Boston College had any right of ownership.

The interviews were given in strict confidence and on the understanding that they would eventually help everyone to understand why and how Ireland went through such a violent and traumatic period.

That they should be used to compensate for the investigatory incompetence and uncaring attitude of a police force stretching back over forty years or be used to further the reactionary politics of intransigent elements in Northern Ireland politics is not just unacceptable but in our view was a flagrant abuse of the legal process.

And in the context of the Obama White House’s current intolerable assault on journalistic and media rights in the United States, the co-operation of the US Justice Department in this disgraceful exercise deserved more condemnation and opposition from American academe than it ever got. Indeed the silence from that quarter during the last two years was almost deafening.

Nonetheless we do welcome today’s decision by the First Circuit to reduce from eight-five to eleven the number of interviews that qualify for handover under the terms of the subpoenas served on Boston College, a mere thirteen per cent of what the District Court in Boston had initially ordered to be surrendered.

The court instead said that only interviews that deal directly with the disappearance of Jean McConville can be handed over as opposed to the indiscriminate consignment of the entire contents of interviews with eight of our interviewees. We see this judgement as at least a partial indictment of the whole process.

Doubtless elements in the security apparatus in Northern Ireland and their allies in Britain were looking forward to a show trial in which almost the entire panoply of IRA violence during the Troubles would be the subject of proceedings in a Belfast court room. Now, that is not going to happen and to be sure there will be disappointment in these circles.