The Belfast Project That Students Forgot

The Belfast Project That Students Forgot
Delphina Gerber-Williams
The Heights
22 September 2014

In the past year, we have witnessed our country plummet in its Global Press Freedom Ranking, the U.S. Supreme Court refuse to step in on behalf of a Pulitzer Prize-winner facing jail time for protecting a source, and concern over Internet freedom growing. We’ve discussed freedom of the press, feared the NSA, and worried about all of our Facebook conversations going public. But where were we, the Boston College community, when confidentiality, protection of sources, and the integrity of academic freedom were being fought over by the U.S. Department of Justice, three senators, six congressmen, and three nations, right here on our campus?

Last May, BC announced that it would return recorded interviews from the controversial Belfast Project to its participants. This not only marked the end of a string of legal disputes involving BC, the UK, and the U.S. Department of Justice, but also the death of a groundbreaking research project.

Starting in 2001, the Belfast Project was aimed at documenting the three-decade ethno-nationalist conflict that wracked Northern Ireland from the 1960s to 1998, known as the Troubles. Organized by Executive Director of the Center for Irish Programs Thomas Hachey, then-Burns Librarian Robert O’Neill, Irish journalist Ed Moloney, and former Irish Republican Army (IRA) member and historian Anthony McIntyre, the project consisted of interviewing 46 former paramilitary fighters from both sides of the conflict. The project directors intended each interview to remain sealed until the death of the respective interviewee.

In 2010, the first interviews were published in the book Voices from the Grave, by Ed Moloney. These interviews, with former IRA leader Brendan Hughes and former Ulster Volunteer Force member David Ervine, were only made public because of their deaths in 2008 and 2007, respectively.

Shortly after, the British government contacted the U.S. Department of Justice, seeking two interviews from the project that might shed light on a murder committed during The Troubles. After deliberation, the University agreed to hand over Hughes’ interviews, but kept the interviews of Dolours Price on the grounds that she was, at that point, still alive.

Eight months after the initial subpoena, the British government issued a second subpoena, now requesting all of the interviews in the BC archive that contained information about the abduction and death of Jean McConville.

The subpoenaing of the tapes threatened the project. One of the first academic endeavors to reveal new details on the Troubles through interviews with former IRA and unionist members, and the only of its scope, the Belfast tapes had the potential to shed light on the sensitive and complex problem of sectarian violence.

The possible ramifications of the subpoenas, however, ran far deeper than the tapes. Traditionally, academic research is granted higher protections from the law so that knowledge and truth can be pursued for the advancement of society. These subpoenas threatened this notion and challenged the idea that academic freedom is essential to the vitality of our society.

The subpoenaing of the tapes also threatens further research. As University Spokesman Jack Dunn told WBUR radio, reported by NPR in May, “Clearly, this could have a chilling effect on oral history projects.” Without protection, researchers will face uncertainty from those who gather information from confidential sources and the sources themselves.

In defense of his own work and academic freedom, McIntyre even claimed that a researcher is actually obliged to destroy his or her material before giving it to a person who could bring it harm, according to an article by Beth McMurtrie published in The Chronicle of Hgher Education in January. He also offered to take the archive into his possession in order to keep it from law enforcements, risking jail for the sake of research.

Initially on the same page as McIntyre, BC attempted to protect the files, appealing the subpoenas several times. As proceedings continued, the administration decided to distance itself “from the reckless rhetoric of Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre,” as Dunn put it in an interview with McMurtrie for the aforementioned article.

While BC was distancing itself from McIntyre and Moloney after the second subpoena, Senators Chuck Schumer, Scott Brown, and John Kerry, along with six other congressmen, wrote to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling for a withdrawal of the subpoena.

And the students of BC remained silent, uninformed. When I questioned my peers about the project, I got the resounding response, “What’s that?”

As academics across the nation followed the fate of these tapes this spring, where were the BC students?

It is our full-time job as students to learn, to immerse ourselves in the pursuit of knowledge. We are the next generation of researchers. And yet, there were no big conversations on campus about the project that might redefine future research. Why weren’t we concerned with the questions circling our campus, the future of our own academic freedom?

Furthermore, why has BC refused to be open with its students about the project? The University never participated in a dialogue with students over the legal disputes.

The Belfast tapes case raises many questions. What degree of freedom should academic research have? How responsible are researchers and their universities in protecting interviewees who reveal sensitive information? At what point does the pursuit of justice supersede the pursuit of truth and knowledge?

I am not suggesting that the student body of BC had the ability to decide the fate of these tapes, but we should have at least known and taken part in the discussion.

Despite McIntyre’s efforts, the relevant tapes were turned over. “There has been a shadow cast over this type of research,” Richard English, a professor of politics at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, told The Chronicle for the aforementioned article. Many scholars, English said, have expressed apprehension about pursuing projects like this, for fear of it coming to naught. The Belfast Project is dead now—there will be “no more books, no more revelations,” as McMurtrie put it in her article. And for McIntyre, “It is the single most devastating thing that ever happened to me,” he told The Chronicle. “It can never be used now. It’s all done for nothing.”

A Parody of a Satire of a Farce

A Parody of a Satire of a Farce
Chris Bray
Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ivor Bell was back in court this week, where his lawyer asked the judge to throw out the increasingly weak and stale charges against him. Here’s how the Belfast Telegraph explains the judge’s response:

“But after being told prosecutors want another eight weeks to consult with police, District Judge Fiona Bagnall indicated that the defence application should wait until full papers are served.”

Ivor Bell was arrested in March. Now, in September, prosecutors in Northern Ireland can’t make a decision about whether or not to pursue his prosecution, because they need some time to consult with the police on the case.

If six months of consultation hasn’t been enough, another two isn’t going to help. Give it up, folks.

Jean McConville murder: IRA suspect’s lawyer slams Boston College ‘evidence’

Jean McConville murder: IRA suspect’s lawyer slams Boston College ‘evidence’
Former IRA negotiator Ivor Bell’s lawyer blasts tapes used to charge his client in Northern Ireland as a ‘complete sham’
Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent
The Guardian
Thursday 4 September 2014

The use of the controversial Boston College tapes to charge a former IRA negotiator with the murder of a mother of 10 has been branded a “complete sham”.

A lawyer for Ivor Bell demanded that the case against his client should be thrown out.

The Crown alleges that Bell is Mr Z on two taped interviews for the Belfast Project in which it is claimed he spoke about the circumstances of how widow Jean McConville was dragged from her children at gunpoint, driven across the Irish border and then murdered.

The 1972 disappearance of McConville resulted in Gerry Adams’ arrest earlier this year. The Police Service of Northern Ireland questioned the Sinn Féin president over allegations that he gave the order for the woman to be kidnapped, killed and then buried in secret – a claim Adams has always denied.

Bell, 77, from the Andersonstown district of Belfast, was arrested in March and charged with IRA membership and aiding and abetting the murder.

The case against him rests on two interviews given to the Belfast Project. Among those who gave testimony to the project was the late IRA Belfast commander, Brendan Hughes, whose interview included the allegations against Adams.

Bell – who is on bail – denies any role in events surrounding the murder, saying he was not even in the city at the time.

As the IRA veteran appeared before Belfast magistrates’ court on Thursday for an update in the case, his lawyer sought a direction from the Public Prosecution Service to discontinue the case.

Peter Corrigan, defending, claimed the level of disclosure violated an international treaty between the US and the UK.

In a scathing attack on the research initiative, he argued that it was unreliable. “Boston College carried out no safeguards in relation to obtaining the interviews. At first instance the court must be satisfied that the evidence has been lawfully obtained. It’s our case that the Boston College project was a complete sham.”

District Judge Fiona Bagnall indicated that the defence application should wait until full papers were served.

Adjourning proceedings until 30 October, Judge Bagnall said: “I would urge the prosecution to endeavour to prepare this case as quickly as possible.”

The Urgent Search for Justice in a 1972 Murder, Cont

The Urgent Search for Justice in a 1972 Murder, Cont.
Chris Bray
Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ivor Bell was arrested in March. It’s now September, and his prosecution has not gone forward. When, if ever, will he brought back into court? Six months, no action, dead silence.

Gerry Adams was arrested at the end of April. It’s now September, and no decision has been announced regarding the possibility he’ll be charged in Jean McConville’s 1972 kidnapping and murder.

At about the same time, Helen McKendry said publicly that she knew who had kidnapped her mother, and said she would go to the police to name names. It is now September, and we have no public indication that the PSNI has acted upon, or even received, the information that McKendry said she was about to bring to them.

Someone at the PSNI leaked the news, back in May, that the police would be returning to the archives at Boston College for new subpoenas of the entire Belfast Project. It’s now September, and there are no publicly available signs that those subpoenas were ever served.

The investigation into the murder of Jean McConville has stalled or evaporated. It’s time for the PSNI and the PPS to either take action or provide some explanation. What has been the point of all this?

Do it or give it up, publicly and explicitly. It’s time.


Ed Moloney: Boston College and Me

Ed Moloney: Boston College and Me
A personal account of the Boston Project
Off The Record
11 August 2014

It was one of those early May mornings so typical of New York City. Bright sunshine and a cold, fresh breeze that blew occasional clouds and rain showers over the streets of Riverdale. Not quite springtime but a promise that it was on its way. And then the phone rang and the clouds suddenly darkened.

“I have some bad news” said the voice on the other end. “But before I say anything you must promise me. Keep me out of this.” It was a friend at Boston College where from 2001 to 2006 I had been director of an oral history project set up to collect interviews with participants from both sides of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

The IRA ceasefire and the 1998 Good Friday Agreement had made the idea possible; Boston College had made an indirect approach, asking for ideas for projects it could fund to mark the historic moment. I suggested creating an oral history archive that would collect the accounts of activists from all sides of the conflict, from paramilitaries to police; it would be a view of Ireland’s most traumatic quarrel from a grassroots level and the college was enthusiastic. We both agreed, it should be done quickly before time and age made it impossible. And we agreed security for the participants was paramount.

Discussions started with the college in the summer of 2000 and by early the following year the archive was under way. By 2006, when college funding ended, archives with IRA and Ulster Volunteer Force interviews (the UVF was the most violent Loyalist/Protestant group) had been created. The effort to include the police had been stillborn but we had created an historically valuable if small project, one that would provide many insights to historians.

Gallons of ink have been spilled detailing the dispute between myself, the Irish researchers and Boston College over whether false guarantees were knowingly given to participants. My view was then and still is that the college had underwritten a guarantee that the interviewees had sole rights over access until their death, that it would be safe from hostile intrusion, particularly from a foreign government. This was an American archive after all and was it conceivable that Washington would allow foreigners to invade and pillage it?

What we did not know until only recently, thanks to an investigation carried out by the Washington-based Chronicle of Higher Education, was that a promise given to us by BC back in 2001 that the crucial donor contract would be vetted by the college’s lawyers was a lie. The donor contract as we wrote it guaranteed confidentiality until death, in other words that no-one except the interviewee could access the interviews. If the contract has been vetted, as we were told it would be and later that it had been, the contract should have included a health warning; we would certainly have withdrawn from the project had that happened and I would not be writing this account. But it hadn’t been vetted, we had been given a false promise. We had been misled; there was no vetting.

But less attention has been paid to the character of the response of one of America’s more prestigious colleges to the threat to academic freedom, as well as to the wellbeing of those who had agreed to take part in its project, posed by subpoenas served by the DoJ on behalf of Northern Irish police in 2011. How did Boston College acquit itself in one of the most consequential struggles ever between government and academe in the US?

So back to that May 2011 phone call. My friend had called to tell me that a subpoena had just been served on behalf of the British authorities seeking two interviews, both with former IRA figures, Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price. Hughes was dead and at his request a book – ‘Voices From The Grave’ – had been published, based on his recollections; Price was still alive. But the friend was nervous. We, the Irish researchers, were not supposed to know about the subpoena, he said. It was being kept a tightly guarded secret inside the college even from those who had most to lose. That alarmed me even more than the news that a supposedly inviolable archive had been invaded.

I put in a series of calls to the college’s legal counsel, Nora Field. I had only one question to ask, at least initially: was Boston College going to resist the subpoena? Each call was met with a similar response: she was busy, she couldn’t get to the phone and so on. So I called the college librarian, Bob O’Neill, explained what I knew and asked him to get a message to Field, I needed to speak to her about the subpoena.

He never called back, so I phoned him only to hear him admit what I already suspected. Boston College’s legal counsel did not want to speak to me even though the subpoena could put the lives and freedom of our interviewees at risk. Since I only wanted to discover if the college would fight, her silence told me all I needed to know. I had also heard that sentiment in the counsel’s office was edging towards an immediate handover; people there, I was told, were saying things like “….these people (the interviewees) were just a bunch of terrorists anyway.”

So, I picked up the phone and called Jim Dwyer at the New York Times, an experienced and skilled Irish-American reporter who would understand the gravity of the situation and its implications. The next morning the story was on the front page. By the beginning of the following week Boston College had hired an outside attorney; the tactic of shaming them into a fight had worked but at a cost. The college’s hostility to me deepened and as time passed and our criticism of the college’s cowardice intensified so did the antagonism to me and to Anthony McIntyre, the lead IRA researcher.

In the months and years that followed I would often have cause to recall a story that Harvey Silverglate, that venerable champion of civil liberties in Massachusetts, told me. Bob Drinan was a Jesuit priest who had been president of Boston College’s law school back in the 1970’s and had been elected to Congress on an anti-Vietnam war ticket. Had Drinan still been around when the subpoenas were served, Harvey said, he would have removed them from the archive, locked them in his office safe and defied the federal government to come and get them. And he would have mobilised the Jesuit Order and all of Boston College’s not inconsiderable legal, financial, academic and political resources to resist the intrusion, all the things the modern Boston College lamentably failed to do. “They were frightened of the fines the federal government could impose,” he explained.

So this story is as much the tale of an altered American academe in which the business model has replaced the place of learning and research.

A week or so later the IRA researcher Anthony McIntyre and the UVF interviewer Wilson McArthur and myself had a conference call with the college librarian Bob O’Neill, who kept the archive, and Tom Hachey who headed up the Center for Irish Programs. Hachey, a close friend of the college president, Fr William Leahy, also a Jesuit, was in charge of the project. The call was notable for two things: the two academics were keen to know what we remembered about the guarantees of confidentiality each had given us, as if they wanted to know what our defence would be, and it would be last contact any of us had with them. In subsequent weeks phone calls and emails to them went unanswered.

With one exception. We were worried that there could be more subpoenas and to avoid that, we asked, surely the remaining interviews could be moved to a location outside the reach of the British? I wrote to Hachey and O’Neill suggesting that the archive be relocated to the south of Ireland, to McIntyre’s home. He had vowed never to surrender the interviews and anyone who knew him would realise he meant it.

The British would have to launch a legal action in hostile territory and the odds were that the interviews could be safeguarded. But the two men refused, citing an interview I had given to the Boston Globe saying that if the other interviews were really in danger they should be destroyed. I still believe that in preference to a handover that was an acceptable option but if the archive had been moved it could have been safely preserved and kept out of British hands. We never heard another word from Hachey and O’Neill.

In August 2011, the Boston Globe published an editorial urging Boston College to hand the tapes over and I immediately emailed Hachey and O’Neill asking if the college would respond. There was no reply. The refusal to relocate the archive was a bad sign, this was even worse. The college had agreed to fight, or rather had been forced to, but it was becoming clear there was no enthusiasm for the struggle. The signals from Boston College to the British were clear: they were pushing at an open door.

So unsurprisingly, the same month a second subpoena was served, as we had feared, asking for any and all interviews that mentioned Jean McConville, the widowed mother-of- ten whose abduction and ‘disappearing’ by the IRA in 1972 over allegations that she was an informer was supposedly the reason for the legal action. (It should be noted that prior to this the authorities cared so little for her that for the best part of twenty years her death had not even been classified as murder and there had never been an investigation into her killing worthy of the name. When I revealed the story back in 2002, (in my book ‘A Secret History of the IRA”) essentially the same story allegedly contained in the archive, the police showed no interest at all.)

In the interim, McIntyre and myself had penned a reply to the Globe editorial and we soon discovered how this had enraged the administration at Boston College. On August 17th, 2011 we received an email from the college’s attorney informing us about the second subpoena and telling us that the previous day the college’s response had been filed with the court. It was too late for our input and the message was clear: we were being excluded from the case.

The next day another email from the attorney arrived. It read: “Ed – Boston College asked me to remind you that my keeping you informed about developments in the case is with your agreement that you will not go to the media about the information, but let us proceed with the court process.” We were being punished because we had dared criticise the Boston Globe for advocating surrender to the PSNI.

So to summarise: the college’s lawyer had refused to speak to me when the subpoenas were served and if the college had got its way the first we would have known about the matter was when people were arrested in Belfast; I had been forced to go to the New York Times to compel and embarrass Boston College to fight; the two people at the college we had trusted most had cut us off and the college was refusing to publicly criticise the British action. Now we were being muzzled and sidelined, told to keep our mouths shut or suffer the consequences.

The college was abdicating the fight outside the courtroom and signaling furiously that it didn’t care much about the fight inside it. As that email indicated, Boston College was refusing to organise a campaign to protest the subpoenas. Anyone who has experienced this sort of ordeal can tell you that you win or lose outside the courtroom as much as inside. It was time for action.

We asked Eamonn Dornan, a Queens, New York-based, Irish-American attorney who also practises as a barrister in Belfast and Dublin if he would represent us on a pro bono basis. He agreed and set about filing pleas to establish our standing in the case. Jim Cotter in Boston agreed to represent our interests there, again on a pro bono basis, and thanks to Harvey Silverglate, the Massachusetts ACLU joined the team. Our gratitude to all these lawyers was in direct proportion to our dismay over Boston College’s behavior.

By this point Irish-American groups, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Brehon Law Society and the Irish-American Unity Conference, had joined the campaign. These groups were alarmed at the consequences for the peace accords and for the architect of the IRA’s peace process strategy, Gerry Adams – who we all agreed was the real target of the British action. Their first achievement was to recruit John Kerry, then the Massachusetts-based chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, now Secretary of State. He issued a statement urging Hilary Clinton to intervene, to get the British to withdraw the subpoenas in order to protect the Good Friday Agreement, the deal that had been brokered in large part thanks to the efforts of Presidents Clinton and George W Bush.

The striking thing about Kerry is that he is a graduate of Boston College Law School but it was Irish-Americans who recruited him, not Boston College. I later lobbied Kerry’s successor in Washington Robert Menendez and discovered Boston College had never been near him. Not only was Boston College boycotting this campaign but there was no effort that we could see to mobilise other colleges to the cause; some people suggested that it was actually discouraging them and while we never had evidence of that there’s no doubt that had Boston College tried, a well organised effort could have galvanized American academe; after all the subpoenas potentially had enormously negative consequences for scholars.

The first court challenge was in December 2011 at the Federal District court in Boston, in front of Judge William Young who had presided over the trial of the shoe-bomber, Richard Reid. No-one expected success here. The important phase would be the appeal, in front of the First Circuit based in Boston and then perhaps at the Supreme Court.

As expected we lost but within days Boston College announced it would not appeal. We had fallen at the first hurdle and now the college was abandoning the fight.

But worse was to come. After Judge Young ruled against the college he then had the task of deciding which interviews were responsive to the subpoena, in other words which interviews should be handed over. His first instinct was to ask the college to undertake that task; after all Bob O’Neill would be familiar with the archive’s contents given that he was its custodian.

When he called his court to order in late December 2012, Judge Young was presented with a sealed affidavit by the Boston College attorney. We only know its contents because the subsequent interaction between an astonished Judge Young and the college attorney was witnessed by Jim Cotter, our attorney. The affidavit, he learned, contained the extraordinary claim from O’Neill that he could not help the court because he had not read the interviews!

I knew this was a lie because O’Neill and myself had often discussed the interviews and it was always evident to me that the librarian was so familiar with their contents because he had read them, as indeed he was duty bound to do.

The true purpose of the college’s ploy soon became evident. The college attorney suggested that instead the court should approach Anthony McIntyre in Ireland to ask for his guidance. Given that six years had elapsed since the project had ended McIntyre could hardly be expected to remember such fine detail but anyway he took a principled stand, in contrast to O’Neill, saying he refused to co-operate in the betrayal of his sources.

And of course that opened the way for Boston College to lay the blame on McIntyre for what followed. Judge Young announced that since no-one from the college would help him, he would take the entire archive into his custody and read them over the Christmas vacation.

All 186 interviews were removed from the college’s sealed archive, the sanctity and security of a confidential collection of interviews sacrificed entirely unnecessarily. In his final judgement the true cost of Boston College’s temerity became evident. Judge Young ruled that if an interviewee had given say 15 interviews but only one mentioned Jean McConville, all fifteen would be handed over. The total was 85 interviews; in Belfast the police were undoubtedly licking their lips. It was a disaster directly caused by Boston College’s cowardice.

O’Neill and Hachey then wrote an Op-Ed piece for the Irish Times blaming McIntyre for this mass handover.

Shifting blame away from the college onto ourselves for everything that had happened had by this stage become the hallmark of the college’s approach to the subpoenas.

Leading that offensive was the college’s flack, an extraordinarily aggressive individual by the name of Jack Dunn, whose attitude towards the truth was that it was an inconvenient obstacle in his way, to be discarded, ignored or shaped to fit whatever narrative was necessary. Nor did he bother too much with due diligence.

Not long after the District Court hearing, Dunn gave an interview to the Irish state television station RTE, alleging that a book I had written, ‘Voices From The Grave’, based on the interviews given by Brendan Hughes had been inspired by financial greed. (The truth was that the book was written to fulfill a promise given by McIntyre: when Hughes was interviewed he knew he was dying and he asked that his account be published after his death.)

O’Neill and Hachey were excited by the prospect. Faber agreed to publish it and the two academics asked to share the byline with myself; I was agreeable but Faber baulked, preferring a single byline by an author who was known in Ireland and the UK for his coverage of the IRA. Instead the two academics agreed to write the foreword.

They also asked that Boston College share the royalties equally with myself; 50 per cent for me and 50 per cent to be given to O’Neill’s library and Hachey’s Irish Institute. I happily assented to the deal and the only extra payment I received was an advance of some $13-14,000 to write the book.

The problem was that neither man had told Jack Dunn, or it seems anyone else in authority at Boston College. Dunn went on RTE to announce: “I think quite frankly that Mr Moloney was so excited about this project and quite frankly so eager to write a book from which he would profit that he chose to ignore the obvious statements that were made to him including a contract he had signed expressing the limitations of confidentiality.”

Unfortunately for Dunn there was an email record to substantiate my account; this showed that O’Neill and Hachey had asked my agent and through him Faber, to share the byline and had then cut a deal to share royalties equally with myself. RTE broadcast a corrected version and on the programme Dunn was forced to admit that he had only learned the truth from O’Neill the day before.

The story didn’t end there. The royalties were supposed to go into BC accounts but didn’t; the money instead ended up in the private bank accounts of Hachey & O’Neill and I have the bank records and emails to prove it. Even so, Dunn is still repeating this canard about the book and my role in it. Extravagant lies about myself and Anthony McIntyre have characterised Boston College’s campaign against ourselves for compelling the college to fight the subpoenas even to the limited extent they did.

“Getting a bang for its buck” was, with hindsight, always a priority for Boston College and this explains why the folks there were so happy at the prospect of having a book published and so eager to bask in the reflected glory after it was published. It also explains why and how the project ended.

Towards the end of the academic year in 2006, I received a phone call from Tom Hachey. “Do you think”, he asked, “that there might be a chance that the interviewees would agree to change their contracts, so their interviews could be made public while they were still alive?” The significance of that question is that it demonstrates that Boston College had no evident legal worries about interviewee confidentiality. While that served to reinforce our confidence in the project’s safety, I refused on the grounds that we had given our word and that breaking it would mean participants facing a vengeful IRA.

Hachey then traveled to Belfast and met the two researchers who gave him the same response. A few weeks later we were told the college was ending its funding; the project would be closed down. Would the response have been different if we had agreed to Hachey’s request? I don’t know but I suspect the answer is yes.

After the District Court setback, we and the Irish-American groups lambasted Boston College for their cowardice in refusing to take the case to appeal. A shamed college eventually announced it would challenge Judge Young’s decision to hand over so many interviews but not his ruling to accept the subpoena. It was rather like the condemned man arguing with the hangman over the length of the rope; he would still die but perhaps a little slower. Boston College won that appeal, thankfully; but it was all so unnecessary. We took our claim to enter the case to the doorstep of the Supreme Court but failed to get a hearing. Last Fall, the remaining interviews, reduced from 85 to eleven were handed over.

I have always believed that if Boston College had thrown its full weight behind the campaign to resist the subpoenas we might well have won; at the very least the message would have gone out from American academe that US colleges were ready to fight to guard the confidentiality of their research subjects, especially from a foreign power. Instead the signal has been sent that they will in all probability be abandoned. Who now in their right mind would agree to participate in a controversial research project in America, especially any dealing with its recent conflicts and wars?

Why The Deafening Media Silence On Suspected Bugging Of McIntyre Family?

Why The Deafening Media Silence On Suspected Bugging Of McIntyre Family?
Ed Moloney
The Broken Elbow
30 July 2014

Well over two months have passed since allegations surfaced that the home phones and internet connection of the McIntyre family in Drogheda, Co Louth may have been bugged and, in particular, that conversations between Carrie Twomey and members of the US embassy staff in Dublin were intercepted and their contents passed on to a journalist working for the Sunday World newspaper.

Since then there have been the following developments:

  • The Sunday World journalist’s source has been identified and, according to a well-placed informant, is believed to be the former IRA intelligence chief who, inter alia, masterminded the 2004 Northern Bank robbery, the theft of Special Branch secrets from Castlereagh RUC station in 2002 and organised the October 1996 bombing of Thiepval barracks, the Lisburn, Co Antrim HQ of the British Army. This figure now holds an position of influence in Sinn Fein and is a close confidante of SF President and Louth TD, Gerry Adams;
  • A complaint has been lodged with the Irish police, the Garda Siochana who are now investigating the alleged bugging;
  • Letters have been written by myself to the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny asking him to monitor the Garda probe, to Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, asking him to keep an eye on the affair and to John Kerry, US Secretary of State and Robert Menendez, US Senate Foreign Affairs chairman informing them of the allegation and in particular that US diplomatic staff were also bugged;
  • Both Kenny’s office and Micheal Martin’s offices have responded, the latter asking his NI spokesman Brendan Smith to take charge of the matter;
  • A question has been tabled about the affair in Dail Eireann by Brendan Smith. Initially directed at the Taoiseach it has now been steered towards the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald.

In addition there are rumors that the Provos have set up a dirty tricks unit specifically charged with handling the fallout from the Boston College affair, which includes a computer expert and the former IRA intelligence chief. A black propaganda unit has also allegedly been organised comprising a college lecturer, a former journalist and a figure once charged by the IRA with the task of vetting condemned informers’ confessions, whose task is to blacken the names of those involved in the Boston project. Just a rumour but one not without some substance.

Enough material there, one would have thought, to whet the appetite and interest of your average red-blooded journalist. After all, if true, the bugging could have been done on behalf of members of the next Irish government. If not, then how did the Sunday World acquire such intimate knowledge of the McIntyres’ affairs?

Except this is Ireland and apart from a smattering of coverage, like these two pieces in the Guardian which can be read here and here and a report in the BBC, the Irish media has by and large managed to completely ignore the story. And even the Guardian, the paper that bravely exposed the NSA’s dirty tricks and championed Wikileaks (at least initially), has gone silent about a potential scandal on its own doorstep that could plunge Ireland’s fastest growing political party into a Nixonian mire.

TRANSCRIPT: Boston Public Radio interviews Belfast Project Director Ed Moloney

Audio to be added

Boston Public Radio interviews Ed Moloney

Boston Public Radio
WGBH Radio 89.7FM
15 July 2014

Jim Braude (JB) and Margery Eagan (ME) interview journalist Ed Moloney (EM) the director of the Boston College oral history project about the impact of the fallout of the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s (PSNI) subpoenas for the project’s archives.

(begins time stamp 0:30:40)

JB: We’re going to try to give you the latest developments and back story to the Boston College Belfast oral history project in maybe forty-five seconds or fewer.

For five years as you probably know BC collected interviews with those who were part of the sectarian violence that ruled Northern Ireland. These interviews were done with assurances given to the interviewees that everything would remain confidential.

But as you probably know in 2011, the federal government subpoenaed BC and ultimately the school handed over some of these interviews to the British authorities who are investigating the murder of a widowed mother of ten, Jean McConville, and ultimately resulted in the arrest of the leader of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, and threatened, according to many, a still fragile peace.

Globe columnist Kevin Cullen went to Belfast to follow-up on the repercussions of the oral history project run amok. Many of the participants feel that their lives are threatened. Kevin joined us last week fresh from his trip to Belfast.

And one of the arguments Cullen made was that BC, because of something called the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the US and Britain, could have exercised political exemptions which would have enabled, according to Kevin, BC to resist the subpoena. The next day the Director of Public Relations from BC, Jack Dunn, joined us to dispute some of Cullen’s assertions.

And after that broadcast we heard from Ed Moloney. Ed’s the man who spearheaded and directed BC’s Belfast Project. He joins us possibly to set the record straight hopefully at least to better align it.

ED, welcome to Boston Public Radio – thanks for your time.

EM: My pleasure.

ME: Hi Ed, thanks for joining us. I just want to play a clip from Jack Dunn from Boston College who was on with us as Jim just said. And Jack Dunn said that the blame should be spread around for this terrible situation to many people including you. Let’s hear a piece of that sound:

(Audio clip played)

Jack Dunn:I think the blame for this should go to all those who were involved and the attempt by Mr. Moloney and Mr. McIntyre to deflect blame from themselves and put it on the hands of Boston College doesn’t hold up to the light of scrutiny.

(Audio clip ends)

ME: Do you think that’s an unfair statement, Ed Moloney?

EM:   I do. Yes, I do. Not surprisingly and not just because we’ve been on the receiving end of Jack Dunn’s tirades since this subpoena business started.

But there are valid reasons for thinking that we were misled by Boston College at a very crucial stage going into this project. When, if we had been treated properly and honestly, we would not have gone into this project…

JB: …Ed, let me be clear. Ed, if I can be clear. When you say misled…

EM: …Can I explain, please?

When we drew up the Donors contract, which is the contract that the interviewees would sign which guaranteed their confidentiality and said to them that they were the only people who would be allowed to open or read these interviews outside of Boston College until their deaths, I asked the Librarian at Boston College, Bob O’Neill, to run this wording past the college lawyer to make sure that we were in accordance with all our legal responsibility.

And I was given assurance that he would and that eventually that he did.

We have learned in the last few months or so, after three years of this subpoena fight, that in fact Bob O’Neill was lying to us. That he never ran the wording or the contract past the lawyers.

That the contract should have included wording which made it clear that there were legal limits as to confidentiality.

And I can assure you, and I’m talking on behalf not just of myself but also of Mr. McIntyre but also of Wilson MacArthur, who did the interviews for the Ulster Volunteer Force interviewees, that if that wording had been as it should have been put in as Bob O’Neill had a responsibility to ensure that it was put in we would not have participated in this project.

And we would not be sitting here today having this conversation. Sorry, now I interrupted you…

JB: …Oh, no, no, no. It’s fine. I’m glad as I was just going to ask you to explain and you did, Ed Moloney, who obviously was head of the project, you also contend – and we had this discussion in some depth with Jack Dunn when he was here last week – that Boston College didn’t fight hard enough, the subpoenas.

And for those who haven’t been paying attention to this: it was initiated by British authorities, went through the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and ultimately the subpoenas were issued.

Jack Dunn told us that he thought they fought as hard as they could. You’re not in the same place as he is, correct, sir?

EM: Oh, absolutely not.

I mean first of all when this whole thing started the signals from Boston College quite clearly, quite loudly were that they would have given up the interviews without any sort of legal fight.

I discovered the existence or the serving of the subpoena entirely by chance when a friend at Boston College rang me up to let me know that the subpoena had been served.

But also to warn me that I was not to endanger his privacy by revealing that I’d been told this by him because the atmosphere at the college was such that no one was going to know about the subpoenas except the college authorities which meant, essentially, that those who had been involved in the project, as well as the people who had given the interviews, would not know about these subpoenas except for this one phone call.

The first that we would have heard, I suspect, of the subpoenas, would have been when people were arrested in Belfast because I strongly suspect that Boston College was preparing to hand over these interviews until I got that phone call.

I then made repeated attempts to contact Nora Fields, who is one of the Boston College attorneys dealing with this, and was eventually told – and of course I only had one question to ask her really aside from asking: How on Earth this thing had happen? It wasn’t supposed to have happened.

But the main question after that would have been: Is Boston College going to fight?

The message I got back from her was that she did not want to speak to me. And that set the tone for the relationship between ourselves and Boston College ever since.

And it planted a very strong seed of suspicion in my mind in the minds of the other researchers that Boston College was getting ready to hand these interviews over. And because of that suspicion and to force Boston College’s hand I then leaked the story to The New York Times.

The New York Times had the story on the front page the very next day and within a few days Boston College had been obliged to hire a lawyer to resist and to fight the subpoenas.

But I wonder whether they would have ever taken on that lawyer if I had not taken the step of contacting The New York Times.

Then when we did get to the legal fight it went in front of Judge William Young at the federal district court in Boston. Boston College lost at that point.

Jack Dunn then announced to the world that Boston College would not be appealing – would not go to the First Circuit Court of Appeals – would not take it any higher than Judge Young.

Obviously what was open to Boston College was a route that went all the way to the Supreme Court if they could get there.

But no, they decided at that very early stage that they were going to give up.

We then, we who were the only ones who were really campaigning publicly, and this is against the background of Boston College trying to gag us, warning us that we’d be cut off from all flows of information if we continued going to the media with our campaign.

We created such a fuss that Boston College was obliged to go back into the fight.

Not to re-open the whole case but to fight on almost a technicality which was about the number of the interviews that had been handed over or were going to be handed over. Not the principle of handing over the interviews but the number of interviews that were to be handed over.

And Jack Dunn has dishonestly characterised that ever since as Boston College putting up a huge fight…

JB: …Well, let’s hear. I actually want people to hear. Actually if I can, Ed, I want to play what Jack said about that. We’re talking to Ed Moloney who was the director of BC’s Belfast Project.

Here is Dunn last week with us suggesting that BC did do everything it could do within the bounds of the law to protect the project.

Listen to him: (Audio clip played)

Jack Dunn: We fought a vigorous defence over two years and we won a significant court victory that protected some seventy-five to eighty interviews from being sent overseas.So Boston College did what it could legally. The criticism from Anthony McIntyre and project director Ed Moloney is that we didn’t do enough.

I think it’s a cultural divide, Margery. I think they don’t understand, particularly Anthony McIntyre who spent most of his life incarcerated in Northern Ireland, they don’t have respect for the legal system. We do. We engaged the legal system. The legal system rendered a verdict. We had to accept that verdict.But we won a significant court victory so the narrative that we didn’t do enough is specious.   (Audio clip ends)

ME: That was the voice of Jack Dunn. We spoke to him last week. He’s the representative of Boston College. Ed Moloney’s on the phone with us now. He’s the director of the Boston College Belfast Project.

Ed, it’s obvious that Boston College has taken a huge public relations hit in this whole situation. So what I don’t get is: What would be their motive? Why would they stonewall you like this? Why would they do what they did? You allege.

EM: Well, you’ll have to ask them that question. I cannot understand it for a moment.

I mean, one of the stories that I heard about the college president, Father Leahy, was that he had been a very strong critic of Cardinal Law over his handling of child sex allegations, paedophile allegations, related to the clergy in the Boston Diocese.

And that he had said that Cardinal Law should have listened to his heart and not to his lawyers so much.

Well in this case I think if Father Leahy had listened more to his heart and not to his lawyers we would not be in this situation now.

I think Father Leahy, if he had decided to fight this all the way, had mobilised all the resources that Boston College could have mobilised: all their alumni, all their political contacts, all their contacts throughout the rest of American academia – to make a real principled stand and fight as hard as you could all the way up to the Supreme Court to try to protect these interviewees who had taken a huge risk in giving Boston College a very valuable archive, an historically valuable archive and have been rewarded in this shameful fashion.

I think now Father Leahy would be a hero amongst American academia.

And instead, Boston College has been soiled by this affair not least by their utter failure to stand up for the rights of people who participate in research projects. This is an affair that’s going to have enormously negative implications for American academic research generally.

I mean who in their right mind now who let’s say is involved in a controversial episode in political life is going to take part in a research project such as this, an oral history project such as the one that we ran at Boston College, in any American university knowing that this is the way that you’re likely be treated at the end of the day?

ME: The Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen offered a theory that we did this because of Britain’s help with us during the Iraq war – that they are our ally in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is there any credence to that do you think?

EM: I think there probably is.

I think a lot of people were struck by the fact that when Gerry Adams was being questioned by the PSNI at Antrim police station about the kidnapping and abduction and murder of Jean McConville, Abu Hamza was appearing in a New York federal district court charged with Al Qaeda-linked offences. And he had been extradited from the United Kingdom at the request of the US and I think you probably are seeing this working out.

But it’s an unthinking working out of this relationship, a quid pro quo relationship, because what the impact and the effect of the American decision to submit to these British requests is to undermine a peace process which was one of the very few diplomatic triumphs for peacemaking and peaceful negotiation undertaken by the United States in the last fifteen or twenty years.

It’s having a very negative effect. I think we can see that in the way that attitudes are hardening in Northern Ireland.

It’s becoming almost impossible now to get agreement on dealing with the past because a lot of Unionists, hardline Unionists, are rubbing their hands with glee and anticipation at the prospect of more dirt and prosecutions affecting the leadership of Sinn Féin, people who they are obliged to share power with and who they don’t like sharing power with and it’s having this very, very negative effect.

And that’s only happening because the American government is going along with this.

And whoever took these decisions in the Department of Justice just did not do minimum research into this.

If they had spent ten minutes on the internet researching the case of Jean McConville they would have realised that the police who started this hunt for the Boston College archive were fully aware that at the end of the day the road that they went down would lead to the door of Gerry Adams and that would have very calamitous, potentially calamitous, consequences for the peace process. They must have known that but why didn’t the American government, why didn’t the DOJ, why didn’t Carmen Ortiz discover these things?

JB: Ed Moloney, last question from me: Our first involvement with this topic on the radio was when we were talking to Tom O’Neill, son of (former Senator) Tip O’Neill. And Tom’s deeply involved in Boston College.

During that conversation, Anthony McIntyre, who’s name we’ve mentioned and with whom you’ve worked, and his wife, Carrie Twomey, called us from Northern Ireland during the discussion.

And Carrie Twomey specifically said, as did many of the people with whom Kevin Cullen met when he was in Belfast a couple of weeks ago, that they really feared for their lives because of the release of these documents.

Do you think those fears are well-founded?

EM: Oh, absolutely! There’s no doubt in my mind that the people who have been exposed as a result of these subpoenas are under a threat of death.

I mean, it is the rule inside the IRA – and make no mistake the IRA still exists as an organisation – it is a rule inside the IRA that if you are caught betraying the organisation’s secrets then you are liable to be killed under the justice system that the IRA upholds. And that’s not something that one can take very lightly.

And I’m not suggesting for a moment that someone’s going to knock on Anthony McIntyre’s door and put a bullet in his head. But he could be walking down the street one day when someone pushes him into the path of an oncoming car. That’s the sort of danger that we’re facing as well as the direct danger and threat of violence.

So yes, I am taking it very, very seriously indeed. And everyone who knows the situation in Northern Ireland knows how vindictive the leadership of this organisation can be in these circumstances.

Don’t forget these tapes have led to the arrest and embarrassment of one of their iconic leaders. You cannot treat these things lightly.

JB: Ed, I said it was the last question – this one really is the last question as we only have a couple of seconds. Dunn, when he was here said everybody shares some of the blame. BC – and I’m paraphrasing – BC made some mistakes, too. Obviously you don’t think “some” is not the appropriate adjective there.

Do you take any responsibility personally at all for the mess, any share of the mess that this thing’s evolved into?

EM: The thing I regret above all else was leaving research of the legal situation entirely to the Boston College end.

I think that was a mistake because it left us open. We were too trusting. We took people’s word and the consequences of that is what we’re living with now I’m afraid.

JB: Ed Moloney, thanks so much for your time. We really appreciate it.

EM:   Okay.

ME: Thank you for being with us. Ed Moloney was the director of the Belfast Project.

(ends time stamp 0:48:00)


TRANSCRIPT: Boston Public Radio interviews Boston College Spokesman Jack Dunn

Boston Public Radio interviews Jack Dunn
Boston Public Radio
WGBH Boston, MA
10 July 2014


Jim Braude (JB) and Margery Eagan (ME) interview Jack Dunn (JD) the Director of Public Relations for Boston College about the impact of the fallout from Boston College tapes subpoenas.

(begins time stamp 1:37:45)

JB: For five years as part of an ambitious oral history project Boston College collected more than forty interviews with former militants who were part of the sectarian violence that ravaged Northern Ireland.

These interviews were done with assurances from those who did them that everything would remain confidential. But in 2011, the federal government subpoenaed BC telling them to hand over some of these interviews to British authorities who were investigating the murder Jean McConville.

Ultimately, BC decided to return everything to the people who participated in the project. This however has not put an end to anything.

The Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen who was with us yesterday, went to Belfast to follow-up on the repercussion of the oral history project run amok. Many of the participants feel their lives are threatened.

Today joining us for a different angle on the same story is Jack Dunn. Jack is the Director of News and Public Affairs at Boston College. Jack, it’s good to see you.

JD: Thank you for having me.

ME: We’d like to point out how wonderful it is that Jack would come in from his vacation on Cape Cod to come up and talk to us about this.

You know Jack Dunn, the Belfast Project was a great idea, seemed like a great idea to get these histories. But then of course you were subpoenaed by the Department of Justice, Boston College was, to turn the information over although the people that ran the project gave these confidentiality assurances to the people that they interviewed.

Why did you do it? Reporters all the time get subpoenaed by the government to turn in sources. They don’t do it. Why did Boston College do it?

JD: Because academic institutions don’t have the same protections that journalists have and this case has underscored that.

I think it’s astounding that the narrative has been established that Boston College somehow was forced to comply with the subpoena. We’re an academic institution and number one: We don’t burn academic records as Anthony McIntyre has suggested. We don’t burn research. We don’t destroy…

JB: …Anthony McIntyre, one the the leaders of the project. And by the way he and his wife, we’ll hear from them in a minute, called in from Northern Ireland a couple of months ago when we were discussing this. But go ahead, Jack, I’m sorry.

JD: We were faced with two federal subpoenas.

We fought a vigorous defence over two years and we won a significant court victory that protected some seventy-five to eighty interviews from being sent overseas.

So Boston College did what it could legally. The criticism from Anthony McIntyre and project director Ed Moloney is that we didn’t do enough.

I think it’s a cultural divide, Margery. I think they don’t understand, particularly Anthony McIntyre who spent most of his life incarcerated in Northern Ireland, they don’t have respect for the legal system. We do. We engaged the legal system. The legal system rendered a verdict. We had to accept that verdict.

But we won a significant court victory so the narrative that we didn’t do enough is specious.

ME: But one thing on that: There is no reporter shield law in Massachusetts, some states have them lots of states don’t. There’s no federal shield law either.

So many reporters, I mean some of my colleagues when faced with a subpoena from the government have said: Well, I’m not going to give up my source. I’m going to go to gaol.

JB: James Risen from The New York Times who was with us a couple of months ago in the same situation…

ME: Right. An almost inevitably the government backs down. You chose not to back down at Boston College.

JD: We chose to fight the court – to fight through the courts.

We attempted to quash both sets of subpoenas and we fought a vigorous two year defence that won a significant court victory.

In fact, the Department of Justice was furious that Judge William Young of the federal court here in Boston even heard this case. They said that given the MLAT treaty, the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the United States and Great Britain, a college had no right to infringe upon that treaty claiming that it had some degree of academic freedom that it was trying to preserve.

So we won a victory for academic research. It wasn’t a full victory but it was a significant victory for the enterprise of academic research.

JB: (quips) You know Margery and I, as I’m sure you know, Jack Dunn, are experts on treaty law. I’m sure you’ve a …(all laugh)

Yesterday when Kevin Cullen was here he brought something to our attention and frankly I wasn’t aware of it and obviously I’m kidding and you may be…I’m sure you are…

He said that this treaty that you’re describing has political exemptions – that if there are political prosecutions.

And he says the potential prosecution of Gerry Adams, who obviously was arrested and interviewed for a handful of days, arrested by Northern Ireland’s standards – not formally charged with a crime – interviewed for days that that clearly in his mind would have been a political prosecution and you could have claimed the exemption which would have caused you to have been able to resist this subpoena.

One: Did you? And if you didn’t why didn’t you?

JD: That’s Kevin’s contention. I have great respect for Kevin. I think in terms of American journalists he’s the most versed on Irish affairs.

The MLAT Treaty, the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty that exists between the United States and Great Britain, is on criminal activity and the treaty was invoked because of the horrific abduction and murder of Jean McConville, a Belfast mother of ten who was…

JB: …widowed mother of ten.

JD: …Sure. Who was taken right in front of her kids from her home in Belfast, brought across the border, shot in the back of the head and buried in a beach.

So it was the MLAT treaty on criminal activity, this particular horrific crime, that was invoked. So while Kevin claims, and I’m sure he’s right that there’s a political exemption, there was no exemption for the criminal activity of the murder of Jean McConville.

JB: Let’s just get back to the line of questioning that Margery was involved in a minute ago: Taking everything you’ve said in response as legit, were there internal discussion about non-compliance?

You fought as hard as you could. As you say, you believe you protected as much as one possibly could – whatever you said, seventy-five percent.

Were there discussions with the president and others saying: Hey, listen, even though we’ve done as much as we can legally, we have to protect academic research. This could do great damage not just to us but to whole notion of oral histories and that sort of thing. Other people in the future might be more resistant – maybe after Iraq or Afghanistan or something else – may be more resistant to participating in something like this.

Were there those discussions?

JD: There were. We considered every opportunity, every option and we determined that this was our best course of action.

Simultaneously, we worked with the State Department to try to secure some relief from the State Department, from the United States government, because the United States government had invested so much in this peace process.

But ultimately, given the climate post-9/11, there seemed to be no desire in Washington to appear to be coddling terrorist activity and the IRA and the Ulster Volunteer Force are terrorist organisations.

So there was no sense in Washington that people wanted to help.

The courts did what they could. We did the best possible…we did as well as we could on behalf of oral history by fighting through the courts and that was the best outcome we thought we could achieve.

JB: You know, one of the things we discussed with Kevin and obviously going home – you read the piece and you’ve discussed the piece when he went to Belfast about the fear that some people lived through…I mentioned that when Tommy O’Neill, is he currently on the Board of BC? (Ed Note: The Board of Trustees for Boston College)

JD: He’s a “Trustee Associate”.

JB: “Trustee Associate” at BC. We were talking to Tommy O’Neill about this. After we hung up with him a couple of months ago actually Anthony McIntyre and as I said and his wife, Carrie Twomey called in.

Here’s what Twomey said, the wife, question put as to whether or not they feel that their lives have been put in danger by information Here’s what Carrie Twomey, the wife, said that their lives have been put in danger by disclosure of this information:

(Audio clip played)

Carrie Twomey: When graffiti such as “Informer Republican Boston College Touts” goes on the walls of the Falls Road which has happened this morning – Yes, we are at risk. And it’s not just us, my family, my husband and my children that are at risk it is all the people that participated very bravely in this project. (Audio clip ends)

JB: I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know what the word “tout” ’til Kevin explained it to us – it’s a snitch is what we talk about.

JB: Yes.

JB: When you hear that, even again if you think you’ve done everything you can, what do you and your colleagues at BC feel when there are people who legitimately feel their lives are at risk because of this?

JD: The reality of this case is that the project director, Ed Moloney, signed a contract with the Burns Librarian at Boston College to conduct this archive project in which the contract stated specifically that confidentiality would be limited to the extent that American law would allow.

As part of the court records one can easily find the facts that Bob O’Neill sent to Ed Moloney saying I cannot guarantee, for example, that this would withstand a federal subpoena if one were to be issued.

The reality that Mr. McIntyre and Mr. Moloney don’t share is that no one thought it would come to this.

Given the investment of the Irish government, the British government and the American government in forging the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 no one thought that the Police Service of Northern Ireland would ever take this step.

JB: Yeah, but the guy from your own library is quoted in one of the earlier stories by Peter Schworm saying it wasn’t even run by the lawyers at BC. You have some regret about that I assume?

JD: There were mistakes that were made but the biggest mistake from our perspective was that Anthony McIntyre gave assurances of confidentiality to the interviewees that he was in no position to make. That it an issue that hasn’t gotten the attention that it deserves. It’s important…

JB: …By the way McIntyre, I think, disagrees with you. Here is McIntyre when he called us about the issue whether or not he was promised complete secrecy. Here’s Anthony McIntyre:

(Audio clip played)

Anthony McIntyre: (They were very,very) clear that there were no circumstances under which this material could be handed over without the approval of the interviewee. There was no room for ambiguity on this. (Audio clip ends)

JB: Is he wrong?

JD: He’s absolutely wrong. And it’s important to note that it was Anthony McIntyre who spoke with the IRA interviewees. No one from Boston College ever spoke with any of the interviewees. I don’t even know who they are.

JB: But they worked for you…

JD: No, they didn’t. McIntyre was hired by project director Ed Moloney to conduct interviews…

JB: …Yeah, but it’s a BC project, Jack, I mean it isn’t like there’s…

JD: …True. I agree. And I’m not trying to….people at Boston College who were involved made their share of mistakes.

But it was clearly the mistake of the project director and Anthony McIntyre who gave assurances of confidentiality that they were in no position to give.

ME: You know Jack Dunn from Boston College, you’re the spokesman for Boston College you’re I guess we could call it somewhat in the PR business and you think about optics and how things look. Suppose it had been different? Suppose…Father Leahy is still the president of Boston College?

JD: Yes.

ME: Suppose Father Leahy had gotten on the steps up there in Chestnut Hill and said:

We have a very fragile peace process in Northern Ireland. If we release this information people’s lives will be at stake, the process that we spent decades trying to achieve could totally fall apart. I’m standing here on behalf of Boston College. I will go to gaol rather than turn these over.

The President of Boston College with the political power of the Irish in Massachusetts, the Irish in Boston, the Democrats…

What do you think would have happened? I know what would have happened.

The Department of Justice would have backed down.

Just like the government backed down in almost every situation I can think of when a reporter said “I will go to gaol” because the government looks like a big bully.

And I guess, maybe not Leahy – maybe you could have gone to gaol – but you know what I mean?

What would have happened if BC had dug in its heels and made that statement and said: We are protecting the citizens of the peace process and the citizens who gave their confidential information whose lives are at stake?

JD: Again, we sought through diplomatic channels to achieve that end.

I don’t think it needed to be as public and dramatic as you stated. We sought through diplomatic channels to achieve that end but there is no appetite in Washington right now to appear to be coddling terrorist activity of any form and that’s the and that’s the reality in Washington post-9/11.

JB: Was one of the diplomatic channels John Kerry?

JD: I don’t think it’s fair for me to say specifically who it involved but I think it’s easy…John Kerry has a connection to Boston College and so he is one of many people that the college reached out to to seek their assistance.

ME: And you think when we talk about terrorists in 2014 – I don’t think we’re talking about the IRA in the 1970’s in Ireland. Do you think they’re all lumped together?

JD: I do.

That was our sense when seeking assistance from Washington that there was no appetite to protect any form of terrorism.

JB: Jack, last thing from me and then you can return to vacation: Here’s a piece from Kevin’s column on Sunday – I guess it was reporting of the prior Sunday – “Boston College meanwhile, did more than any American university to engage both the political and civil society on both sides of the Irish border.”

I think there’s a consensus well beyond Kevin there’s no American university that’s been more important in the history of The Troubles and beyond.

“BC has hosted” …..This is Kevin still… “BC has hosted hundreds of politicians, journalists, civil servants, and peacemakers from Northern Ireland over the years. But, in all this bitter recrimination the Boston brand has suffered in Ireland.”

So again, even if you think as you said – we made some mistakes, everybody did, we did the best we could under the circumstances – how do you, the president, how do people react to that? I mean that’s real that there is…He has the great line from Anthony McIntyre…the horrible line from Anthony McIntyre at the end of his piece saying: I can’t even listen to More Than a Feeling by Boston, the band, because I don’t want anything with “Boston”.

I mean there is some…a negative impact in a place I know you all care a lot about about BC.

JD: The history of Boston College has been inextricably linked with Ireland and Northern Ireland. We were heavily involved in securing the Good Friday Agreement.

In fact our conflict negotiators, one of our Jesuit priests, was involved in bringing the sides to the table, our political scientists worked closely to help form the new government by telling people how to share power.

So we have been heavily involved in that and I think our reputation is solid. People understand that we hired individuals who weren’t the best fit for us to conduct a project to reside in our library to provide a resource for historians.

Mistakes were made. Things happened that people didn’t think would happen.

So if the BC brand has suffered then we’ll re-double our efforts to improve that brand and to do the work that we’ve always done moving forward that puts BC in the spotlight as being America’s leading university in Ireland.

But again, I think the blame for this should go to all those who were involved and the attempt by Mr. Moloney and Mr. McIntyre to deflect blame from themselves and put it on the hands of Boston College doesn’t hold up to the light of scrutiny.

ME: Jack Dunn, thank you for coming. I’m sure this has been a fun couple of days talking about this especially during your vacation and I appreciate it very much your coming in.

JD: Thanks for having me.

ME: Jack Dunn is the Director of News and Public Affairs at Boston College.

Kinda makes you miss Ted Kennedy, doesn’t it, Jim?

JB: Boy, does it ever!

(ends time stamp 1:52:00)

TRANSCRIPT: Boston Public Radio interview with Kevin Cullen

Boston Public Radio interview with Kevin Cullen
9 July 2014

Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen talked about his recent trip to Belfast and the simmering tensions in that city over an oral history project at Boston College.

Starts 1:28.05

Jim Braude (JB) and Margery Eagan (ME) interview Kevin Cullen (KC), The Boston Globe columnist, Pulitzer Prize winner and co-author of the book, Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice, about the effects the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s subpoenas for the Boston College tapes have had in Ireland – not only on individuals but on the peace process itself.


JB: It’s a complicated geo-political who-done-it that could have been plucked straight out of John le Carré’s imagination: A political leader celebrated for brokering peace among political foes gets arrested for a murder that happened over forty years ago and the arrest is based on information that was supposed to remain under lock and key.

That’s the real life story of Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams but this is just the beginning of a story that is still unfolding and reverberating from the Boston College campus all the way to Belfast.

The Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen picks up where we and most other media have left off. He’s been in Belfast reporting on how the Boston College oral history project betrayed a promise of secrecy and in turn has threatened a very vulnerable process. Kevin good to see you.

KC: Good to see both of you.

ME: Well, thanks so much for coming in, Kevin. As Jim just said the information here was all supposed to be under lock and key. It didn’t quite turn out that way.

So tell people that haven’t followed this story what The Belfast Project is – what the idea was.

KC: It happened Margery in sort of the heady days after the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 effectively ended what the Irish in their penchant for understatement called “The Troubles” – the war in Northern Ireland.

And BC was very influential in the peace process. They went out of their way to host people from Northern Ireland – both civil society but also paramilitaries.

I remember when the Loyalists called – the Protestant paramilitaries – called off their armed struggle in 1994 the very first place six of them came to talk about it in America was Boston College. So Boston College has always been invested in the peace process and very much involved in Ireland.

So somebody at BC had the bright idea: Hey, why don’t we start an oral history project?

And what we’ll do is take the oral histories of people that fought the war – the combatants – both on the Republican side, that would have been the Irish Republican Army, and on the Loyalist side in this case, the Ulster Volunteer Force. So in that respect it was sort of a noble and inspired idea.

And I can tell you that knowing people at BC and listening to them explain themselves they never believed for a minute that what they compiled would then be sought by people in law enforcement.

Now I personally think that’s extremely naive knowing the political nature of policing.

Policing in Northern Ireland was always what the issue was.

I mean when the war, as we would call it, really broke out in the late 60’s it was because civil rights demonstrators on the Catholic/Nationalist side were literally beaten off the streets by police.

If the police had done their job it never would have happened.

So policing is still political. It’s very political.

When Ed Moloney, who BC hired to direct the project, wrote a book and more or less told the world: Hey! By the way we have all these interviews with these guys…

And in this case, Brendan Hughes – who is now dead, said that Gerry Adams ordered the abduction, murder and secret burial of a woman named Jean McConville, a widowed mother of ten – that was see ya later!

Then the cops – it was only a matter of time before the cops went after them as far as I’m concerned.

JM: Before we get back to the naievté of BC and what they should do, Kevin Cullen, what representations did BC make to the participants in this project about the confidentiality, about the secrecy of the documents, the interviews – all that sort of thing?

KC: If you look at the actual agreements I think BC did not promise more than it could deliver in some respects.

The problem is it got lost in translation over the Atlantic Ocean.

Everybody who spoke to them, and I just was in Belfast and interviewed a number of people who gave oral histories, they were absolutely guaranteed. There were, absolutely.

In their minds, nothing would ever pry this out of the hands of BC until they were dead. And then if you look at the papers, and Boston College has shown them I mean Jack Dunn has waved it for everyone to see.

JB: Spokesperson for BC..

KC: He said that: Look here, it says that BC will protect it as far as American law will allow.

But this is also where we really get into muddy ground here, Jim.

Because the police – and then the British authorities – contacted the Justice Department citing a treaty that the UK and the US signed saying that if we have information for them in criminal matters that we will turn it over to them and vice versa. It’s a two-way street.

But there is a political exception in there.

It makes clear, this treaty says if they are political offences or there could be political ramifications then either government could opt out.

And clearly this was political. There was politics all over this.

When the leader of the largest Nationalist party in Ireland is the target of a criminal investigation – that is political – by any definition.

So I don’t think this thing should have been turned over.

ME: So the reason this all is in the news right now – and I assume part of the reason you went over to Belfast to do this great story you did about the repercussions in Belfast – is because in May the leader of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, was arrested. Now what was that about?

KC: He was arrested. In the UK and in Ireland in those jurisdictions arrest is not what we think of it.

When you’re arrested in America you are charged. It’s one in the same.

In Ireland and the UK when you’re arrested you’re arrested for questioning.

And he was held for four days of detention. He says he was interviewed thirty-three separate times over a period of ninety-six hours and that they kept coming back – everything that they talked to him about was based on things that was told to BC researchers.

So Gerry Adams came out of there and very publicly rubbished the Boston College project, said that Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre were biased, that the history they compiled was biased because they were opposed to Adams and the way he handled it.

And Adams has some legitimate points frankly on that thing.

But the other thing – and I really did pick this up when I was in Belfast talking to all these old IRA veterans – they were saying: Hey! Wait a minute. When people say this is not a legitimate history it is – it’s our history – and we are not in with the Sinn Féin leadership – no one will tell our story – so it is important that we put down what we say we experienced and what we thought of the whole conflict.

And frankly most of these guys, which I think is the other interesting thing, they’re not saying: Oh, we gave up too easy and we compromised.

These guys are saying: The war was not worth it for what we settled for.

If you’re an Irish Republican you can’t call yourself an Irish Republican and recognise the partition of your country – it’s just mutually exclusive. And so they have legitimate points of views, too.

The thing that I did…and the whole idea…it was Mark Morrow’s idea, the editor…not my idea to go over there…just said see what the feel is on the ground and what I sensed is people in some respects are very afraid.

JB: What’s a “tout”?

KC: A tout is just the local idiom for “informer”.

And it is a very loaded term in that culture and that’s what happened…I think you’ve probably seen the photographs of it…

ME: …Yes.

KC: …that right after Gerry Adams was arrested people started painted on the gable walls – either a whitewash or a black on a white wall – and it said: “Boston College Touts”. Now that’s a very loaded term.

And believe me, it’s directed at Anthony McIntyre. It’s directed at a guy like Tommy Gorman, an IRA veteran who was publicly identified as giving an interview. It’s directed at Ricky O’Rawe.

It’s directed at a number of guys that gave interviews. As they told me they are afraid because when you get called a tout in Ireland you very often end up dead.

JB: You know speaking of Anthony McIntyre we were discussing this whole project with a former board member actually – I don’t know if he’s still on the board (Ed Note: The Board of Trustees for Boston College) – Tommy O’Neill – a couple of months ago on the radio and Anthony McIntyre and his wife, Carrie Twomey, actually called us from Northern Ireland and he did say to us that he feared for his life.

Here’s what else he said: This is Anthony McIntyre describing how BC, in his opinion, failed to protect the archives from the British authorities:

(Audio sound bite from the interview is played)

Anthony McIntyre: What the Boston College staff needed to do was to protect an endangered archive by getting it out of its custody immediately and sending it over to my custody whereby I would insure its protection….So Boston College left an endangered archive on its campus, vulnerable to the second subpoena, and so it did not do what it could have done.

(Audio sound bite ends)

JB: You know speaking of what Anthony McIntyre just said, Kevin Cullen from The Boston Globe: “sending it over to my custody”. They didn’t do it when McIntyre would have liked it to have been done. They did it after the cat was out of the bag.

You open your piece this week with this beautiful story of this guy who gets a FedEx package. Tell that story for us please and what he does with it.

KC: That’s Ricky. Ricky O’Rawe. Ricky was actually one of the “blanketmen” in the IRA; when they were demanding political status they refused to wear prison uniforms – they wrapped themselves in a blanket.

Ricky was also the spokesman for the hunger strikers in 1981 and was very close to Bobby Sands, the first hunger striker who died.

Ricky got his stuff back when BC said we’ll give it back if you want it. He goes: Send it back!

So it went to his lawyer’s office. He picked it up. He didn’t know quite what to do with it and then he said: Am I going to hold it? Am I gonna give it to my kids?

And then when the police announced, under I think under political pressure, they wanted everything – not just stuff related to Jean McConville – they wanted everything in the file – the whole archive – that’s when Ricky said he opened a bottle of fine Bordeaux, he goes: I lit a nice fire and then he goes: it was a nice Bordeaux it was a nice fire, too.

JB: Very, very good!

KC: A funny thing – I didn’t put this in the story – but I said before I said…because he told me the story, I said: You know Ricky if I put that in the paper you could be found in contempt of court. He goes: I am in contempt of that court!

ME: Is Ricky, who had his nice fire – is he assured this is the only copy of these tapes? That’s what I was thinking to myself.

KC: That’s a good question, Margery.

ME: You know, he burned them and hoping they’re done but…

KC: That’s a good question. He was mad, too, because his stuff – he said he knew nothing about the McConville case because he was in Ballymurphy and that was done by the Lower Falls unit – that would be Company D in the Lower Falls for the IRA – so he didn’t know anything about it.

So he didn’t know why his stuff was turned over to the court in the first place. So Judge Young has seen Ricky’s stuff.

ME: We’re talking with The Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen who has written this fantastic piece about the reaction in Belfast to this whole…the arrest of Gerry Adams back in May and the allegations that he was involved in the murder of Jean McConville.

Kevin, tell people about Jean McConville. You didn’t get into this in your story but this is a really horrifying story – what happened to her.

KC: It might be the most – one of the most horrific, I mean there were more than thirty-five hundred people killed in what we call “The Troubles” and hers is one of the most disturbing.

It was 1972.

1972 was actually the bloodiest year of The Troubles – more than five hundred people were killed and we’re talking about a place roughly the size of Connecticut with about 1.5 million people. And she was accused of being an informer. It’s very, very murky.

She was a Protestant. She married a Catholic guy and so she was suspect in that – she would have been seen as a “Prod” or one of “them” – and that was all suspicious.

So anyway she was abducted…she was dragged from her…in front of her kids…

ME: …And the husband was dead already.

KC: …Yeah. He had died the year before.

ME: So she was the only support of these ten children.

KC: That’s it! And they described…I mean I talked to one of her sons who described that they were literally holding on to her leg as the IRA guys were dragging her out of the house. And those kids were scattered – like so many orphans – all over the place and had very tough lives after that.

Now obviously what was unusual about the Jean McConville case is that in…you know, Jim asked about ”touts”…

And touts were, informers were very, very publicly humiliated and executed and left in the side of the road for people to see.

But I think somebody in the IRA decided killing a widowed mother of ten might look a little bad.

So what they decided to do was they shot her and then they buried her on a beach in County Louth on the Irish Republic side of the border because I guess somebody in the IRA decided this would just look too bad if we are blamed for this murder.

And so the IRA actively promoted the myth that she had just run off to England with somebody – that she couldn’t take the stress of having ten kids and no husband. They did not find her body until 2003. And like I said it’s always been one of the most horrific deaths of The Troubles.

That said, the police did absolutely nothing to solve that murder.

They never interviewed anybody. They never opened a file. They never did anything.

It’s only when the Boston College tapes became aware somebody in the police said: Hey! We can go after Adams.

Now I’ve always questioned: What’s the evidentiary value? This stuff was not given with warning. It was not taken under oath. It’s just people telling stories. And there’s no way to verify most of this information – it’s just “he says she says”.

Adams says the people that have been publicly identified as saying he was involved in the murder of Jean McConville, one being Brendan Hughes, “The Dark”, who was a very famous IRA guy and very close to Adams actually during their time in the IRA, and then Dolours Price, who has also died, she claims that she actually when to get to drive Jean McConville to her interrogators who killed her.

So Adams says these are just political enemies, people that fell out with him and they figured the best way they could get back at him is to try and pin a murder on him. So that’s what he says.

JB: We’re talking to Kevin Cullen who has written a wonderful piece in The Globe about what he’s calling “The New Troubles”. You know, staying the the Adams thing for a minute…

ME: …Before we leave that story I just want to tell one quick story because I happened to be over in Dublin when Adams was arrested and you saw the children interviewed constantly on television – Jean McConville’s surviving children.

And one of the things they talked about which shows the level of terror: that some of their neighbours, they claim anyway, where they lived, were involved in abducting their mother but because they were so afraid for their own lives – some of the people were hooded and masked and some of them weren’t – they never told who those neighbours were because they were afraid they’d be killed if they did.

KC: I’ve heard Michael McConville say that.

JB: You know Kevin, for those of us naive enough to think that this was over – a couple of things come to mind.

One, I think you wrote, I think it was you who wrote at the time of the Adams’ arrest, whatever an arrest means – you described a couple of minutes ago – there were questions: If it turns out they legitimately – the police there – legitimately thought this was worth investigating forty years after the fact, why was only one side’s leaders…

KC: Correct.

JB: I assume that is the talk.

KC: Oh, yeah!

JB: Is why Adams and why not people on the other side of this conflict.

KC: Exactly! Like I said I think that’s why the police launched this “we want the whole thing” – because they were being criticised as being very selective in their prosecution.

JB: But that hasn’t changed…

KC: No, it hasn’t in the sense that the idea – and I put it in my story – while the police want these BC records they are refusing to turn over their own records to the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland who is trying to investigate at least sixty cases of police and military collusion in the murder of what would be mostly Catholics/Nationalists.

One, which really intrigued me, one of those sixty murders the Ombudsman wants is of an RUC man, a police officer, and there’s allegations that his own people set him up to be killed by the IRA.

It’s very explosive stuff but the cops won’t turn that stuff over.

The other thing, Jim, about this whole thing it just shows that we are in a post-conflict society and they don’t know truth and reconciliation.

They don’t know how to get there. They don’t know how to find truth.

The sad part is I think the BC thing was a very idealistic idea to get this out there and then thirty or forty years historians would see this stuff. Unfortunately, people found out about it and it became this political football that will not go away.

JB: Well let me continue my naiveté – beyond the lives of the individuals who feel threatened as touts or whatever it is, you write: “Some worry the personal disputes, and fear of potential prosecutions, that the BC interviews have given rise to could do serious damage to Northern Ireland’s hard-won, much-admired, but still-evolving and ever-fragile peace process.”

So the trickle-down or trickle-up or trickle-sideways implications of this disclosure are huge – well beyond the lives of the individuals.

KC: And the dissent groups there are basically riddled with informers themselves – the police do a fairly good job on them.

But you know what they’ve been trying to do in recruiting kids who know nothing about this stuff – to get fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen year old kids who are just angry – and they don’t like growing up with – they’ve been recruiting them on the grounds that: Hey, nothing has changed. The Brits are still lying to us.

And say Adams is charged with this crime and is brought to trial I can guarantee you there’s going to be real political fallout – there’s going to be problems – there’s going to be more people going to the dissident groups because they’ll be able to say: See! Nothing has changed.

And it also allows the dissidents to go back at Sinn Féin and say: You guys bought this hook, line and sinker from the Brits. Nothing has changed. They go after us. They don’t go after their own people that do things wrong. So there’s an awful lot at stake here.

Now there is another case involved: Ivor Bell, who was an IRA Commander, who actually had a big falling out with Gerry Adams in the mid-80’s and was more or less drummed out of the IRA.

He has been arrested and is still facing trial for his involvement and the allegation in court was he was charged based on evidence that was included in the BC archive.

So this is serious stuff.

JB: You know as the only non-Irishman in the studio at the moment and not a life-long Bostonian like you guys…well, you’re a Fall River kid who became a Bostonian…

KC: …Same thing.

JB: I have to say I’m pretty proud of the role as you described it Boston played in this whole thing but you end your story about saying how tarnished the reputation of Boston…

You quote Anthony McIntyre – you were talking about him saying he was listening to the radio and the song More Than a Feeling by Boston, the group, came up. He said it used to be one of my favourite songs but when it came on the other day I was like: Screw it. I hate it. I don’t like anything that has “Boston” in it.

What is the spillover in terms of Boston’s reputation?

KC: I think first of all BC always had a very good reputation particularly in The North but also in the Republic of Ireland as a “player” – as a force for good – as an honest broker – whatever you want to call it.

And there’s no doubt that that image has been tarnished.

Everywhere I went in Ireland people asked me the same question: Why did BC give up the records? Why didn’t they fight?

JB: What was your answer to them?

KC: My answer is: I don’t know. Because I mean, Jack Dunn and other people at BC have publicly stated they couldn’t be in violation of a court order.

But our great friend, Harvey Silverglate, has made it very clear that why couldn’t Father Leahy or somebody at BC come out on the stairs and say: You will get these things over my dead body and if you want to put me in gaol – put me in gaol.

JB: Speaking of that by the way – let me read Harvey’s quote which I think was quite great, I dunno, a month or two ago – he says – he talks about it – if an academic institution’s going to get involved in this – he says:

“it is better that an academic institution not agree to exert control over them.” (If you’re not going to protect them.) And then his line, his takeaway, is: “that should be left to individuals willing to risk the consequences of adhering to conscience.” – which is pretty heavy.

ME: Like a reporter in a way with a source, right?

KC: Marjery, you and I both know that – Manna from Heaven! Imagine if we got thrown in the can?

ME: No. I can’t. I can’t! (all laugh)

KC: No, seriously! (quips) First of all, you know it’s not that bad down at Nashua Street anymore…

ME: Oh, jeez…speak for yourself!

KC: No, but say I got throw in the can. I’d be a hero. I’d be celebrated. I’d probably get a bonus. (quips) Well no, I probably wouldn’t get a bonus – but then again…(all laugh)

No, seriously people would say – and there’s no doubt I would go to the can – I mean I’ve been brought in – it’s never got to the push to shove – but I’ve had cops coming after my notes before on murders and stuff…

JB: So speculate about why….

KC: …I don’t know. Like I said I think it’s cultural like Harvey says. I think people in academia aren’t willing to go that extra mile whereas I think journalists not only are willing to do it they would welcome it because it would be – you’d stand up for your principles and say: I am not a gatherer of information for a law enforcement agency!

JB: Well how about then Carmen Ortiz – you mentioned this political exemption a couple of minutes ago to this treaty – so the police there contact the United States government saying we want this information. Based on your interpretation of this treaty, Kevin…

KC: They should have said “no”. They could have.

JB: Ortiz could have said – either – what’s his name…

KC: …Holder. It was Holder’s call.

JB: Eric Holder or then in turn, Ortiz, could say we’re not issuing these subpoenas.

Why didn’t they do that?

KC: I can only speculate that after ten years of standing with us in Iraq and Afghanistan we basically – somebody in Washington said: we owe the Brits this.

I do not think they looked at this very closely.

As other people have written and as I’ve have suggested in some columns, we’re actually undermining American diplomacy by doing this.

The Americans spent billions of dollars and untold political capital – poor George Mitchell had to live there for God’s sake for about five years and get this thing done. And frankly it’s been something that – it started with the Clinton Administration but Bush did a good job with it, too. They’ve stayed right with it.

Richard Haass, who is Bush’s person, is still deeply involved and is still trying to help them get past some of the legacy issues.

And yet we, our own government, basically facilitates something like this that can undermine what we just spent a generation accomplishing. It makes no sense to me and I can only speculate that it was the people who made the decision made it on: They’re our allies – they want it – we’ll give it.

One thing I think is also interesting – when John Kerry was Senator John Kerry he thought this was a terrible idea…

ME: …The BC? The Project?

KC: This whole going after the files…

ME: …Oh, going after the files, okay.

KC: He was opposed to it.

He publicly…I actually wrote a column quoting John saying: This is wrong. It undermines American diplomacy.

Then John Kerry becomes Secretary of State – nada!

JB: Has he said nothing?

KC: He hasn’t said anything about it.

ME: Well, you’ve partially already answered my last question but I’ll ask you anyway: Because so many people in Ireland as you well know are worried about the peace being broken and there being a return to what there was – let’s hope not – many years ago but is there any sort of “higher authority” kind of trying to mediate things and intervene so that the peace…?

KC: Richard Haass and Meghan O’Sullivan from Harvard. She’s over there, too. They have been, for the last year, have been trying to help the people in Northern Ireland confront their legacy issues which also involve triumphalist marching which we’re going to see in the next week…

ME: …Triumphalist marching?

KC: The Orangemen. That’s The Orange Order. It’s a fraternal organisation. Protestants.

They want to march through neighbourhoods where they’re not welcome basically.

And that’s an issue – and Nationalists say they have the right to say “no” – Orangemen say they have the right to march what they call the Queen’s Highway.

It’s an issue that won’t go away.

And I can guarantee you…what day is it? In a week they’ll be stories all over the place. You guys will have it on the NPR News of fights and all kinds of crap breaking out in Northern Ireland. It’s an annual ritual of sort of tribalism that hasn’t gone away.

I know Haass is very – I haven’t talked to him personally, but I’ve talked to somebody just last week who works with him – and said he’s utterly frustrated that the Irish can’t seem to get beyond these issues.

Now you have to remember that Northern Ireland is still incredibly segregated – ninety percent of people live in neighbourhoods where everybody is just like them. I mean, it sounds like America now that I come to think of it!

But it’s actually…no…it’s more segregated even than in America and the peace process has done nothing to address that.

When the Good Friday Agreement was signed about five percent of kids in Northern Ireland went to integrated schools – that number has not moved one iota in fifteen years.

JB: Kevin, great to see you. Terrific piece! Thanks for your time.

ME: Okay. Not very optimistic there, Kevin. I hope things work out better.

Kevin Cullen is a columnist from The Boston Globe. His latest book along with Shelley Murphy, and this is a great book – you and Shelley did an awesome job, Kevin Cullen – I loved it! – is Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice. Thanks again for being with us, Kevin. (ends 1:52:20)

CHRIS BRAY: PSNI Theatre of Shadows

All That Is Solid Melts Into Air
Chris Bray
Friday, July 11, 2014

In October 2012, news stories announced that the Police Service of Northern Ireland would be pursuing subpoenas of tapes and notes from interviews with former IRA member Dolours Price. The PSNI had already gone after Dolours Price interviews archived at Boston College, but this new effort was to be directed at the newspaper and TV journalists who had interviewed Price about the BC subpoenas. In the crosshairs: CBS News and the Sunday Telegraph.

More than a year and a half later, there is no evidence that those subpoenas ever arrived. When Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams emerged from his four-day interrogation at the PSNI’s Antrim station, he said that police had confronted him with material from the Boston College interviews; he made no mention of CBS or Telegraph materials. And my own tedious search of Pacer, the federal court case management website, turns up no evidence of subpoenas served on CBS News headquarters in New York.

To be sure, we can’t see very far into the underlying events, and it’s not clear what kind of contest may have taken place over this threat of subpoenas directed against journalists. I’ve been asking journalists and public affairs staff at CBS News and the Telegraph if they received subpoenas, or discussed the possibility of subpoenas with the PSNI, but those questions have gone entirely unanswered. Liz Young, the public affairs director at the PSNI, offered this careful non-answer to my questions: “Given that investigations are ongoing we are not in the position to either deny or confirm that a subpoena was sought and no inference should be taken from this.” So the conclusion has to balance the likely with the wholly unknown: It appears that the PSNI threatened journalists with subpoenas, but then didn’t follow through, and it’s not possible at this point to know why the threatened subpoenas apparently didn’t arrive.

Now: Spot the pattern. In May of this year, a new round of news stories announced that the PSNI would be seeking new subpoenas to secure every Belfast Project interview archived at Boston College. Again, no one is answering questions, but there’s no sign that those subpoenas have arrived.

Meanwhile, the high-profile arrest of Gerry Adams resulted in nothing more than the four-day-long collapse of the PSNI’s souffle. Three years after the Grand Inquisition began, Adams is a free man, and would not seem to have much reason to worry. The other big event in the PSNI’s supposed murder investigation was the March arrest of former IRA leader Ivor Bell, long purported to have been chief of staff to Adams in the 1970s IRA in Belfast. Bell was charged with aiding and abetting McConville’s murder, not with committing it; as yet, the PSNI hasn’t charged a single person with actually kidnapping McConville or actually killing her. And Bell is also a free man, released on bail as the Public Prosecution Service tries to decide whether or not to bother taking the charges to trial. They do not seem to be in any particular hurry.

So the PSNI’s “investigation” into the 1972 murder of Jean McConville — an investigation opened 39 years after the event — has made more noise than progress: some arrests that led to the release of those arrested; an arrest, with weak and likely to be abandoned charges, of someone who isn’t alleged to have killed McConville; and a storm of threats and promises that have mostly seemed to evaporate.

The available evidence continues to support the argument that I’ve now been making for more than three years: The PSNI is putting on a show, not a murder investigation.

But then spot the other pattern: Many news stories reported the PSNI’s claim that it would subpoena CBS News and the Telegraph; none reported that the subpoenas didn’t arrive. Many news stories reported that the PSNI would be pursuing the whole Belfast Project archive at Boston College; no news stories have reported that those new subpoenas haven’t been served. Many news stories reported the dramatic arrests of Adams and Bell; few journalists appear to have noticed that the air has leaked out of those arrests.

In Indonesia, puppeteers perform Wayang Kulit, a theater of shadows in which images are projected on a screen by performers who stand behind it. The PSNI is the Dalang, the puppeteer, in the shadow play of the Jean McConville “investigation.” And the news media continues to treat the play as real life.