Latest on Boston College Tapes: Radio Free Eireann interview with Belfast Project Director Ed Moloney
Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
Saturday 27 July 2013
John McDonagh (JM) and Sandy Boyer (SB) interviews author and journalist Ed Moloney (EM) who provides updates on the Boston College case and comments on the possible presidential candidacy of Peter King. (Eliza Butler (EB) also comments.)
(begins 2:37PM EST)
Sandy Boyer (SB): We do have Ed Moloney, author of Voices From the Grave, on the line. Ed, thanks for being with us.
Ed Moloney (EM): No problem, Sandy.
SB: Ed, there’s a piece in The Irish Times today – and we’ve been covering of course the whole Boston College project where you interviewed the people who actually participated the struggle…
EM: No. I didn’t interview anyone.
SB: You directed the project.
EM: Yes. Yes, indeed.
SB: The Police Service of Northern Ireland has subpoenaed those tapes, or some of them, and now Boston College seems very anxious to hand them over I have to say, but it was revealed that Boston College doesn’t even know who was interviewed. How can that be?
EM: Because the system that we built was designed to ensure the confidentiality and security of the people who participated in the project. That was paramount.
So people who were interviewed were given on the transcripts of their interviews an anonymous identification – usually a letter of the alphabet – A, B, C and all the way through. And then their interviews were then numbered – A1, A2, and so on and so forth.
And that transcript and the tape recordings etc which couldn’t be identified would be fedexed over to Boston College and placed in their archive.
Every now and again the librarian in charge of the archive, a man called Robert O’Neill, would travel to Ireland – which he did regularly because he had a lot of money to spend on buying artifacts and books and material like that for his library – came over to Ireland on a regular basis and he would meet the researchers, that is: Anthony McIntyre, who did the IRA interviews and Wilson McArthur, who did the Ulster Volunteer Force interviews, and collect from them separately contracts – these were contracts that were signed in the names of the people who were A,B,C and D and in that way you were able then to identify “A” and identify “B” and so on and so forth.
Now the rules that we drew up were very strict in the sense that while it was possible to fedex the transcripts and the actual tapes this identifying material had to be carried by hand from Ireland to Boston.
There was no way that you could do it any other way without infringing security.
Now initially I was supposed to be part of that but as you know – for family reasons which I think you’re very familiar with, Sandy – I had to move over to New York very shortly after the project started and therefore could not be involved in this process. And therefore I did not know the names of those who were on the contracts. I never saw the contracts. They were handled exclusively by this character from Boston College, O’Neill, who received these and took them back.
It now appears that a whole number of these contracts either were not collected or were lost in the bureaucratic mess somewhere over in Boston which means that, first of all, Dolours Price’s own interviews – there’s no contract for those. Therefore Boston College does not own those interviews, cannot make any claim to those interviews, cannot publish those interviews and indeed the legal validity of Dolours Price’s interviews as the focus of a criminal trial are now very much in question.
In addition there are seven other interviews which are still the subject of legal wrangling in the courts and we’re going to hear more of that on Tuesday I suspect. But of those seven three of them cannot be identified. They were given letters of the alphabet – I think it’s S, Y and Zed or Z as the Americans call it – they cannot be identified because the contracts don’t exist – either they’ve been lost or they were not collected by Mr. O’Neill.
Boston College is obviously trying to put the blame on myself which is not unusual because that’s been the story of this all along.
But I think an examination of the facts and the history of the whole period along with the fact that this is now thirteen years after this project started – Boston College approved of my move over to New York in the sense that they said: Okay, it’s not ideal but you can continue to run the project or direct the project from New York.
Not once in the thirteen years or so since the project started has Boston College made an issue out of this – come to me and said: Oh, listen – what about these contracts and what about the key to the identities of the participants?
And they didn’t do that because they were happy with the arrangement apparently that we had set up instead.
Not only that but the statute of limitations has expired on the contract that I had with Boston College so it’s unenforceable.
And they allowed that to expire even though it expired after the subpoenas were served by the PSNI.
So again, the evidence is there that they were satisfied with the situation and didn’t do anything about it until right now when they have finally discovered at this very late stage that they have lost these contracts and they’re looking around for someone else to blame other than themselves and of course they’ve picked on myself. So we shall see what happens. But that – it’s a complicated story and I hope your listeners will bear with me – but it is fairly simple at the same time.
SB: But Ed, if you read The Irish Times today and they quote Boston College as saying: well, Ed Moloney has the key to this. Now if I were…
SB: That’s what they say and I’m not saying you do – that’s what they say. If I were the Justice Department and I were reading that I would say: well what I need to do is go subpoena Ed Moloney…
EM: They very well may do something like that – I don’t know. We shall wait and see. But they’re really trying to get blood from a stone.
Because the rules of this archive said that these very important contracts could only be transported by hand from Ireland to Boston and because I was living in New York of course I could not be part of that arrangement.
Otherwise the integrity of the project, the security of the interviewees – would all be at great danger and we would actually be breaching our contract with the interviewees if we did that. So I could not be involved in that.
So the DOJ can come knocking at my door but I cannot help them because I was never in receipt of any of these contracts. I do not know who these people were and that’s just the way it is. And there’s not much I can do about that except explain to them patiently and slowly and hope that they understand. And if they don’t…well we’ll just have to wait and see.
SB: Ed, this was tried on you once before when you were in Belfast…
EM: Yes, that’s right.
SB: …to make you testify against a source and you just said: no I’m not going to do that.
EM: It was not to testify – it was to hand over notes of conversations with a man called Billy Stobie who had been involved as a Special Branch informer with the RUC in the background to the murder of Pat Finucane. And I had given that man my word like I had given the interviewees in this project – although not directly but indirectly – my word that their security and their identities would be safeguarded.
So that’s not going to happen. A) because I will not do it but B) because I just can’t. I don’t have the names. You cannot get blood from a stone no matter how hard you try but that doesn’t mean to say that the authorities won’t at least give it an effort. But we shall see.
JM: Ed, I want to finish up….I know you follow the politics here in the United States and God knows there’s been alot of delusional politicians out there in the recent weeks – people keep thinking of Eliot Spitzer or Anthony Weiner but probably the most delusional politician out there is from Nassau County called Congressman Peter King who is contemplating running for the President of the United States.
And as I brought up at the beginning of the show this is the same Peter King who was very favourable to Irish Northern Aid. I’ve talked to people in Irish Northern Aid and he would have met Joe Cahill when Joe Cahill was out here. And now it’s come up in the trial up in Boston that Joe Cahill was meeting with Whitey Bulger and other drug dealers up in the Boston area.
And here is “Mr. No More Immigration” – “Mr. No This and That” – meeting with Joe Cahill – probably at dinner dances here in New York at the Irish Northern Aid – probably was responsible for getting Joe Cahill a visa to come into the United States – and now it’s coming out that he was running up to Boston and meeting with Whitey Bulger in order to get drug money to have IRA weapons shipped over to Ireland. It’s a very strange thing that Peter King actually thinks that he’s going to run for President.
EM: Well that’s only the half of it because Peter King, who I actually have a soft spot for because in his dealings with Ireland he was very honest and very straightforward I think with a lot of people, and he came to the Irish situation not via the usual route – which is the Sinn Féin offices on the Falls Road – but he came over by himself and he made contacts in areas of West Belfast where most of these sort of visitors would never dare go.
And he met genuine IRA people and then he got very friendly with people on the border in South Armagh.
He became very friendly with Slab Murphy who was ultimately Chief of Staff. He was very friendly with Michael McKevitt and his wife, Bernadette Sands, who’s the sister of Bobby Sands. He brought alot of these people over to the United States. He stayed with them in their homes when he visited Ireland. And only very late on in his association with Ireland did he actually get to meet people like Gerry Adams – who I think actually sought him out rather than him seeking Adams out – which is contrary to the usual pattern of these things.
The people that he was knocking around with were heavy, heavy duty IRA people.
I mean McKevitt and Slab were involved in the Libyan arms importation. And while they were one night sitting down for fish and chips with Peter in their home in County Louth a few days later McKevitt would be in Tripoli meeting Libyan intelligence to go through the inventory of weapons to be smuggled over courtesy of Colonel Gaddafi who, needless to say, was never one of America’s closest friends. So drug dealing in Boston for sure but also arms dealing in the Middle East. And these are people he was very friendly with.
JM: (quips) I don’t know if you can use that as a campaign slogan but you never know what works here in this country!
EM: Indeed! Indeed! But given what’s happened in Libya now perhaps that sort of association is even less respectable but we shall see.
SB: Ed, thank you very much and we appreciate your participation on the show and your regular participation and it makes alot of difference to our audience. And so thank you.
EM: You can come and visit me in gaol, Sandy, as well when the DOJ puts me there.
SB: We will probably do that.
EB: It won’t be our first or last guest in gaol.
JM: (quips to Sandy) You’ll be arrested as you’re coming out after visiting Ed and held!
(ends 2:49PM EST)