Boston College tapes: PSNI bid to obtain all material
22 May 2014
The Police Service of Northern Ireland have confirmed that they are seeking to obtain all material relating to Boston College’s Belfast Project.
The project features interviews with dozens of former paramilitaries.
Previously, the PSNI gained access to material from the project relating to the 1972 murder of Jean McConville.
Information from the recordings led to a series of arrests, including that of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.
The PSNI said: “Detectives in Serious Crime Branch have initiated steps to obtain all the material from Boston College as part of the Belfast Project.
“This is in line with the PSNI’s statutory duty to investigate fully all matters of serious crime, including murder.”
The Boston College project was designed as an oral history of the Troubles.
Breach of contract
Paramilitaries from the IRA and the Ulster Volunteer Force gave candid interviews to researchers employed by the university, on the understanding that their involvement would not be made public until after their deaths.
The PSNI used a treaty between Britain and the United States to obtain material relating to Mrs McConville.
Researchers fought the release of the interviews through the US courts.
They maintained that it would represent a breach of contract and trust, and violate the ethical code on the protection of sources.
Judge Young, who read the archive in order to determine which testimonies made reference to Mrs McConville, acceded to the PSNI request.
He did, however, describe the project as “a bone fide academic exercise of considerable merit”.