Gerry Adams arrest: surrender of interview tapes has dealt ‘blow’ to research

Gerry Adams arrest: surrender of interview tapes has dealt ‘blow’ to research
By David Matthews
Times Higher Education
1 May 2014

Researcher on Boston College project criticises pursuit of recordings

The handing over of research that appears to have led to the arrest of Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has dealt a “death blow” to academic work in the US involving confidential interviews.

That is the view of a key member of the university team that recorded the Boston College interviews that police have pursued as part of their investigation into an IRA killing.

The Sinn Féin leader was arrested yesterday and questioned by Northern Ireland police over the 1972 murder of Jean McConville, which he has long denied having any role in.

His arrest comes after the release to police of parts of interviews with Irish Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries conducted for a research project by academics at Boston College.

Two of the former paramilitaries interviewed for the tapes implicated Mr Adams in the murder of Ms McConville, although it is thought both had fallen out with the Sinn Féin leader.

Boston College academics fought unsuccessfully through the courts keep the tapes private.

Speaking about Mr Adams’ arrest, Ed Moloney, an Irish journalist who was one of the researchers in the Boston project, said that the “damage” was “done” to academic freedom.

“The whole process of conducting academic research in the United States of America on sensitive subjects with confidential sources has been dealt a death blow by the Obama Department of Justice,” he told the Boston Globe.

“It’s a disaster in Ireland, as well, because it means people are not now willing to sit down in front of a tape recorder and tell the truth about what happened.”