VICE: The Peace Process Is A Sham

THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT ARE TRYING TO ACCESS CONFIDENTIAL IRA RECORDINGS
By Danny McDonald
VICE
September 2013

The idea was simple enough: interview paramilitaries from both sides of the The Troubles, record their testimonies and release the interviews sometime after their deaths. For researchers Anthony McIntyre and Ed Moloney, the hope was that the Boston College-funded oral history initiative known as the Belfast Project would bring clarity to what was a particularly murky conflict.

Unfortunately for McIntyre, a journalist and former IRA member who was imprisoned for 18 years, and Moloney, a journalist best known for his coverage of Northern Ireland, shit got complicated. But then it usually does when you mix lawyers, cops, terrorists, academics, politicians and murder.

The researchers now find themselves in a convoluted legal battle where they are pitted against law enforcement authorities on both sides of the Atlantic. The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) want tapes of interviews with paramilitaries that, they believe, relate to the murder and disappearance of Jean McConville. The Belfast mother of ten was abducted and murdered in 1972 by the Provisional IRA after they suspected that she was a British informant.

The PSNI’s request was passed on to the British authorities, who are now trying to exploit an obscure international agreement known as the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty to gain access to the interviews. Due to the terms of this treaty, it now falls to the US Department of Justice to wrest these tapes from Boston College, who are the legal owners. However, McIntyre and Moloney are vehemently opposed to this. They say that any breach of privacy could hinder academic research they want to conduct in the future, given that they’d made agreements with the paramilitaries that they wouldn’t release the tapes till after they’d died.

The complicated legal saga has dragged on since 2011. The matter is still in federal court and there has been much wrangling over how many of the 11 interviews – conducted with seven paramilitaries – are even pertinent to the McConville murder. One that was deemed to be was conducted with Dolours Price – a former IRA member who was convicted of a London bombing in 1974 and spent more than 200 days on hunger strike in a Brixton prison. Price died in Dublin last January, and earlier this year, her interview transcripts were handed over to the PSNI.

So why are the PSNI so keen to get their hands on these tapes? McIntyre has speculated that the pursuit of the tapes may be a political ploy intended to somehow damage Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams. Adams has never publicly admitted to being in the Provisional IRA, despite plenty of allegations that he was an integral member of the group’s leadership for decades. The Sinn Fein leader has also been linked to ordering the McConville disappearance, but has vehemently denied his involvement. Now, McIntyre suggests the lawsuit may be a case of old score-settling.

“Certainly it was, in my view, an attempt to cause problems for Gerry Adams. They may believe that there could be information linking him to a number of things he has done that he hadn’t been linked to,” McIntyre tells me. “So I suspect there are people out there to make trouble for him.”

In a statement sent to me, the PSNI bat away such assertions, stating it’s all part of the process of investigating a murder:

“Police have a duty in [sic] investigate murder, a duty in law and a duty under the European Convention. This is an explicit duty to investigate and to explore every available investigative opportunity; political considerations play no part in the decision-making process. Detectives from Serious Crime Branch are currently assessing the materials authorised for release by the United States Appeal Court as part of the investigation into the murder of Jean McConville. As police inquiries are continuing, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

But McIntyre and Moloney believe that there’s hypocrisy at work. What about all the unsolved murders allegedly carried out by British security forces during The Troubles? Why, they ask, isn’t the PSNI releasing info regarding those? Specifically, Moloney says, they are pursuing crimes that are thought to have been committed by paramilitary outfits like the IRA and the loyalist UVF, while outright ignoring alleged misdeeds of forces like MI5, the Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch and the British Army.

“That’s really a declaration by the British that the war with the IRA is still ongoing and that the peace process, in that regard, is a bit of a sham,” says Moloney. A genuine peace process, he continued, would have done one of two things: established a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate everyone or wiped the slate clean of past atrocities in the hope of progressing toward a “greater good”. Neither of those things, he says, is currently happening.

Some of the outstanding question marks, according to McIntyre, include Paddy McAdorey, an IRA member who was killed by a British Army sniper in 1971; Michael Donnelly, who was killed by a plastic bullet in 1970; and Sadie Larmour, who was killed at her home by a UVF gunman in 1979. Information regarding all three of those murders is being withheld by the government, according to McIntyre. That shows the PSNI is motivated by politics, not justice, he says.

Ironically, McIntyre and Moloney are trying to pry information from the very government that is pushing for the release of segments of their own work. The duo have filed Freedom of Information requests seeking war diaries of a British regiment that was stationed in West Belfast for three years during the early 70s. The diaries aren’t scheduled to be made public for decades.

McIntyre says the government wants to control the history of conflict in Northern Ireland.

“Law enforcement wants to be in charge of all information pertaining to the past,” he told me. “They can’t stand for intellectual pluralism. They want a sort of a monopoly over everything and that would mean law enforcement would be investigating law enforcement, which simply doesn’t work.”

Asked if he fears for his safety should the paramilitary interviews be released, McIntyre says, “There’s nothing specific, but one has a general feeling of foreboding of this process, that’s there’s not going to be a good end-result. I think, objectively, it enhances the risk not only to me, but also to the people who participated in the project.”

First Circuit Ruling on US Attorney Petition for Rehearing: Denied

United States Court of Appeals
For the First Circuit
No. 12-1236
IN RE: REQUEST FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM PURSUANT TO THE TREATY
BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM ON MUTUAL
ASSISTANCE IN CRIMINAL MATTERS IN THE MATTER OF DOLOURS PRICE
——————————
UNITED STATES
Petitioner – Appellee
v.
TRUSTEES OF BOSTON COLLEGE
Movant – Appellant
____________________________

Before
Torruella, Boudin* and Thompson,
Circuit Judges.

ORDER OF COURT
Entered: September 5, 2013

Appellee’s Petition for Rehearing is denied.

By the Court:
/s/ Margaret Carter, Clerk

cc:
Jeffrey Swope, James Cotter, III, Eamonn Dornan, Dina Chaitowitz, Randall Kromm, John McNeil

____________________________

*Judge Boudin did not participate in the consideration of this matter.

Case: 12-1236 Document: 00116578535 Page: 1 Date Filed: 09/05/2013 Entry ID: 5761299

Opposition of Boston College to Government’s Petition for Panel Rehearing

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT
___________________________________________________________________________
No. 12-1236
IN RE: REQUEST FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM
PURSUANT TO THE TREATY BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE
UNITED KINGDOM ON MUTUAL ASSISTANCE IN CRIMINAL
MATTERS IN THE MATTER OF DOLOURS PRICE,

UNITED STATES,
Petitioner – Appellee
v.
TRUSTEES OF BOSTON COLLEGE, ET AL.,
Movants – Appellants.

__________________________________________________________________
OPPOSITION OF BOSTON COLLEGE TO
GOVERNMENT’S PETITION FOR PANEL REHEARING
__________________________________________________________________

 

Appellants Trustees of Boston College and two of its representatives, Robert K. O’Neill, the Librarian of the John J. Burns Library at Boston College, and Boston College University Professor Thomas E. Hachey (collectively, “Boston College”), oppose the government’s Petition for Panel Rehearing, which the government styles as a request that this court modify its May 31, 2013 opinion in this appeal. By order dated August 8, 2013, this court directed Boston College to file this response….

Value of Boston College tapes diminished by anonymous voices

Value of Boston College tapes diminished by anonymous voices
Chris Bray
Irish Times
July 27, 2013

There are voices and they talk about the death of Jean McConville. It may not matter. After two years of legal proceedings in the US, a set of audiotapes in a Boston College archive are supposed to answer questions about McConville’s 1972 murder by members of the IRA, who claim they suspected her of informing for the British army in Belfast.

The voices on the tapes are said to belong to former militants from the organisation that took McConville from her home, shot her dead and then buried her on a beach in the South.

But the prolonged court battle may produce evidence of questionable legal value, as Boston College now says it is unable to identify some of the interviewees.

Assuming no further legal wrangling in the US, police in Northern Ireland are set to receive subpoenaed material in which unidentifiable voices anonymously discuss a decades-old murder.

“It certainly greatly diminishes the value of the evidence,” says Eamonn Dornan, a lawyer who has participated in some of the American legal proceedings involving the subpoenas. “If they can’t be identified, they’re meaningless, or almost meaningless.”

The inability of Boston College archivists to identify some interviewees from the venture known as the Belfast Project grows from apparent failures in a system that was designed for the very purpose of masking the identity of research subjects.

In the archive, interview materials were marked only by a coded letter and court documents have used that coding to discuss which of the tapes Boston College is to provide to the Government.

Among the interviewees who discuss McConville’s death, which American courts have concluded from a review of the material, are those known as S, Y, and Z.

Nowhere, however, does Boston College have a key that connects those coded identities to the real identities of the interviewees.

Jeffrey Swope, a lawyer in Boston who represents the university in the proceedings over the subpoenas, acknowledged this week that the school’s archivists have never had that identification key.

In some instances, university archivists are able to identify Belfast Project interviewees by the research contracts they signed. For the subjects known as S, Y, and Z, however, Boston College acknowledges that it doesn’t have interview contracts, although it does have contracts that identify the subjects of four other sets of subpoenaed interviews.

The American university is blaming an Irish journalist for the missing documentation, saying that the writer and filmmaker Ed Moloney was obligated to provide the paperwork under the terms of his contract as the research director of the Belfast Project, which was concluded in 2006.

“Under the agreement between Boston College and Mr Moloney, ” wrote Swope in an email on Wednesday, responding to questions, “Mr Moloney promised to provide a ‘key’ to the code assigned to each interviewee that gave the interviewee’s name. Mr Moloney failed to do. Mr Moloney did provide Boston College the donation agreements for some, but not all, of the interviewees.”

In response, Moloney said that the project ended in 2006, the subpoenas were served in 2011 and only now has Boston College realised that its archivists do not know what is in, or has gone missing from, the college’s own archive.

“Not once in all these years did the college ask me for the key to these interviews and that is because they knew that when I moved to New York at the outset of the project, for family reasons, I could not be involved in a process which stipulated that, for security reasons, contracts could only be taken by hand from Ireland to Boston,” says Moloney.

“This is an attempt to divert attention from the college’s own incompetence, one of many during this sad saga.”

Forced to turn over interviews with research subjects it can’t identify, Boston College is trying to find out whose tapes it has in its archives. The university has asked Moloney to provide them with the missing identification key. “Mr Moloney has refused to do so,” according to Swope.

Swope also provided a copy of Moloney’s contract with Boston College, noting that it required the research director to provide the identification key.

He did not respond to subsequent queries asking why Boston College was bringing the absence of that key to Moloney’s attention in 2013, seven years after the end of the project he ran.

Several Boston College officials, including archivist Robert O’Neill and spokesman Jack Dunn, also did not respond to phone calls and emails this week. Neither did officials at the US Department of Justice.

Dornan, who represents Moloney in litigation over the subpoenas, said this week that neither the US Department of Justice nor Boston College are likely to succeed in any effort to force a key to interviewee identities from the former Belfast Project director.

Moloney won’t co-operate and his long-expired agreement with the university is unenforceable due to the statute of limitations on contractual obligations.

As for American prosecutors, Dornan says, the law only permits them to subpoena “documents which are in existence”. And the identity key doesn’t exist. Other avenues may be available to the Government, including a subpoena forcing Moloney to testify in court, but “there are a lot of procedural difficulties” .

Those legal hurdles will be complicated, Dornan adds, by a new political climate in the US following two years of controversy over the subpoenas.

Whatever legal developments come next, they are unlikely to be resolved quickly. The death of Jean McConville is, 41 years after the event, a story that still resists its ending.

Chris Bray is a historian and journalist.

Adams faces quiz over murder of McConville

Adams faces quiz over murder of McConville
PSNI could receive tapes linking SF chief to mother of 10′s death
JIM CUSACK AND JOHN DRENNAN
Sunday Independent
14 JULY 2013

Gerry Adams faces questioning by detectives if a federal court in Boston rules that transcripts of interviews with seven former IRA members about the murder of widowed mother-of-10 Jean McConville can be released to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Mrs McConville’s family is also exploring the possibility of launching a civil action against the Sinn Fein president in the event of no prosecution taking place.

Mr Adams maintains he had “no hand, act or part in” the December 1972 murder, despite claims by two of his former IRA associates, Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes, that he gave the order for the killing and secret burial (in Co Louth) of the Protestant woman who had been living in the Catholic Falls Road area.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin told Mr Adams in the Dail last week that it is time to “come out of the shadows” on the issue of his past relationship with the IRA.

“Far from the passage of time erasing memories of these issues, they are instead becoming clearer and more relevant,” he said, referring to the escalating controversy over Boston College tapes allegedly linking the Sinn Fein leader to the death of Mrs McConville.

Mr Martin spoke of the murder by the IRA of the woman struggling to bring up her children.

“Brendan Hughes, who was a key member of the Belfast brigade of the IRA at the time, pulls no punches in his claims of who ordered that killing,” he said. “It is a very sordid tale. Deputy Adams owes it to the House to make a comment on it.”

Mr Martin said he has written to Hillary Clinton on the issue, and will be asking the Taoiseach “whether he sees the need to discuss the pursuit of this by the PSNI and the British authorities with the American authorities”.

The concerns of the opposition leader provoked a sharp response from Mr Adams, who claimed that “the IRA, which is now on ceasefire, has left the stage and is not around, apologised for what it did” and added that “those who make the accusation against me, apart from those in the Dail, are implacable opponents of the peace process”.

Mr Adams’s denials, said Mr Martin, “fundamentally lack credibility, and were it any other politician who stood accused of what Mr Adams is, they would be facing, at a minimum, a Dail inquiry or a commission of inquiry”.

Brendan Hughes died in 2008 and Dolours Price took her own life last January at her home in Malahide, Co Dublin. Both had given accounts to researchers for Boston College stating that Mr Adams had given the order for Mrs McConville’s murder in his role as head of an IRA unit in Belfast whose job was to seek out and punish anyone seen as collaborating with the British Army or the RUC.

Last Friday week, the PSNI took possession of the Dolours Price transcript, which had been in the possession of the US Department of Justice since last year. It and the tapes – part of a Boston College collection of recordings of former republicans and loyalists – is unlikely to lead to any action being taken against Mr Adams as Price had known mental health issues.

However, a federal court in Boston is expected to give final judgement next month in the appeal by Boston College in relation to 11 interviews with seven former IRA members also relating to the McConville murder and which are still held by the college.

In April, the Federal Appeals Court ordered that these tapes be handed over to the Department of Justice by the end of this month. Boston College is still considering this order but, if as appears likely it is compelled to release the tapes, the PSNI would then have no option but to question the former IRA members and Mr Adams.

Boston College said last week that reports that it had handed over the Dolours Price tapes and transcript were untrue. The tapes were passed into the possession of the Department of Justice after a court ruling last year.

The college said it assumed the department handed the tapes over to the PSNI, but could not be certain. It said reports last weekend that more transcripts or tapes were handed over were not true, and these remain in its possession for the time being.

Jack Dunn, the public affairs director at Boston College, said last week that he did not know if the Price tapes had been handed over to the PSNI by the department, and “it’s not my place to speak for them. They could have. The DoJ have been in possession of the Price tapes for more than a year. They’ve had them since January 2012″.

He pointed out that the contents of the Price tapes had already been widely reported in Ireland, where she gave extensive interviews to the media.

Mr Dunn said in an interview: “She referenced the tapes in those interviews and mentioned she drove a getaway car and she implicates Gerry Adams in the tapes too. Those things have been disclosed repeatedly.

“There’s nothing on the Dolours Price tapes that will be a surprise. There’s no reason for the tapes not to be sent to law enforcement, because the legal recourse of the United States has been exhausted regarding the Dolours Price tapes.”

In relation to the remaining 11 tapes from the seven other IRA members, he added: “The college has until the end of the month to decide whether to accept or appeal that court ruling. We’re in the process of making the determination as to what we will do over the course of the next several weeks.”

Seamus McKendry, the husband of Mrs McConville’s eldest daughter, Helen, said yesterday: “We are not certain what use the (Dolours Price) tapes will be. The sad thing is she was available for questioning while she was alive in either jurisdiction but there was no action taken despite her living admissions in the media. They waited too long.

“We are exploring the idea of a civil action. We have spoken to lawyers and are considering this. The Omagh families took their action after there was no justice for them.”

Robert Menendez voices strong opposition to IRA Boston College tapes handover

Robert Menendez voices strong opposition to IRA Boston College tapes handover
Interviews could run counter to US national interests Menendez claims
By IrishCentral Staff Writers
Irish Central
Published Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Chairperson of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez raised his concerns yesterday over the release of interview tapes of former IRA paramilitaries from the Boston College archive.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Menendez said he is concerned that the release of material from the archive could ‘still have the effect of threatening the precious peace won by the Good Friday Agreement.’

In his letter Menendez appealed for State Department experts on Northern Ireland to examine whether the details contained in the interviews could damage reconciliation or ‘run counter to our national interests.’

If the material is handed over Menendez asked that a section of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty be invoked, which would block the material contained on the tapes from being used in civil proceedings.

In his letter Menendez tells Kerry that the U.S. government should ‘impress upon the British government’ that the release of the material is conditioned on the fact that it would not be used in a civil case.

Concluding his letter, Menendez said it would be a ‘terrible error in judgment’ if the U.S. did not engage in what he called ‘due diligence’ to protect ‘our investment in this hard-won peace.’

A report by the Associated Press at the weekend claimed the Boston College tapes are now in the possession of the Police Service of Northern Ireland. However Jack Dunn, director of public affairs at Boston College, told IrishCentral that Boston College itself has had no part in the alleged handover.

‘The Dolours Price tapes have not been handed over to the PSNI by Boston College,’ Dunn told IrishCentral. ‘If they have been given to the PSNI they have been supplied by the Department of Justice. It has been inaccurately reported that PSNI detectives came to Boston over the weekend and took tapes from us. That is completely untrue.’

Two sets of tapes are in question, the first set contain the interviews given by Dolours Price, a former member of the IRA who passed away in January. The second set of tapes were conducted with other former paramilitaries and have been edited into segments that are unlikely to aid criminal prosecutions sources say.

‘The tapes at Boston College from the second subpoena are still here at Boston College and will remain here until we make a determination of what we will do regarding the favorable court ruling in June,’ Dunn explained.

‘I don’t know if the PSNI have approached the Department of Justice about the Price tapes and it’s not my place to speak for them. They could have. The DOJ have been in possession of the Price tapes for more than a year. They’ve had them since January 2012. The DOJ will have to answer that question.’

For Dunn and for Boston College the Dolours Price tapes are a settled court matter. ‘The agreement was the tapes would be held in confidence to the extent that American law would allow until the death of the participant. Dolours Price has passed away so it’s really a moot point,’ Dunn said.

Dunn added that the contents of the Price tapes have already been widely reported on in Ireland, where she gave extensive interviews to the Irish media.

‘She referenced the tapes in those interviews and mentioned she drove a get away car and she implicates Gerry Adams in the tapes too. Those things have been disclosed repeatedly. There’s nothing on the Dolours Price tapes that will be a surprise. There’s no reason for the tapes not to be sent to law enforcement because the legal recourse of the United States has been exhausted regarding the Dolours Price tapes.’

On the second set of subpoenas for the remaining tapes the attorneys for Boston College won a favorable ruling where they reduced to just segments eleven interviews with former IRA participants that mentioned the abduction of Jean McConville.

‘The college has until the end of the month to decide whether to accept or appeal that court ruling. We’re in the process of making the determination as to what we will do over the course of the next several weeks,’ Dunn concluded.

Meanwhile Brendan Moore, National President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians expressed his concern about the PSNI’s apparent determination to pursue the matter.

‘We really feel that this serves no positive purpose whatsoever,’ Moore told the Voice. ‘It has all the makings of a witch hunt. The only positive thing that I see is that far fewer of the original documents that have been requested by the PSNI have actually been cleared to be given to them.’

The PSNI is more and more being recognized as a discredited operation, Moore continued and prosecution moves like this do it no favors. ‘Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies found the procedures being used by this police service just incredible, contrary to all kinds of guidelines. And now we’re handing over documents that never should have been in their hands and won’t be used for a positive purpose? That could undermine to a great extent so much that has been accomplished by the peace process. It’s entirely regrettable.’

So many people have worked so hard and pulled back from their own hardened positions to accommodate the peace process, Moore added. ‘And here we are watching the PSNI tearing it down? It’s so unfortunate,’ he said.

Release of Boston College tapes could threaten Northern Irish peace – US senator

Release of Boston College tapes could threaten Northern Irish peace – US senator
US secretary of state warned that oral history interviews may threaten ‘hard-won peace’
Simon Carswell
Irish Times
Wed, Jul 10, 2013

Senate foreign relations committee chairman Robert Menendez: “It would be a terrible error of judgment if the United States was to not engage now in the due diligence to protect our investment in this hard-won peace”

A high-ranking US senator has warned US secretary of state John Kerry that the release of the further Boston College interviews with former IRA members could threaten the peace in Northern Ireland.

New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez, chairman of the powerful US senate committee on foreign relations, noted the ruling of the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit that only 11 interviews from the college’s oral history of the Troubles should be handed over to the Northern Irish authorities.

He told Mr Kerry in a letter he remained “concerned that the United Kingdom’s request for the material may still have the effect of threatening the precious peace won by the Good Friday Agreement.”

Interviews

The Police Service of Northern Ireland sought the interviews conducted by journalist and author Ed Moloney and historian Anthony McIntyre as part of the investigation into the 1972 killing of Belfast widow and mother of 10 Jean McConville, one of the most notorious murders of the Troubles.

Senator Menendez said in his June 28th letter that the interview materials “should be carefully weighed by State Department experts on Northern Ireland’s peace process to determine whether their release could damage inter-communal reconciliation and might run counter to our national interests.”

In a second letter to Mr Kerry on the issue, Mr Menendez said that if the US administration has no further legal grounds to withhold the release of the interviews, he hoped that the secretary would engage with the Department of Justice to “minimise the potential damage these documents might do”.

McConville investigation

He told Mr Kerry that the Department of Justice should impress upon the British government that the records can only be used in the McConville investigation and on the agreement that “they will not released for use in any civil proceedings”.

“Our country made a significant diplomatic investment in resolving ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland,” Mr Menendez wrote. “It would be a terrible error of judgment if the United States was to not engage now in the due diligence to protect our investment in this hard-won peace.”

The PSNI travelled to Boston last month to collect tapes and transcripts of interviews given by the late Dolours Price, a former IRA member who claimed to have been involved in the abduction of McConville. The interviewees had agreed to speak as part of the college’s Belfast Project on the condition that the content of their interviews would be kept private at the college until they had died.

Senator intervenes in Boston tapes case

Senator intervenes in Boston tapes case
UTV News
Published Tuesday, 09 July 2013

US Senator Robert Menendez has outlined a certain conditions he wants to see imposed on any future handover of Boston College tapes to PSNI.

It comes after two PSNI detectives travelled to collect interviews connected to their investigation into the murder of one of the so-called Disappeared, Jean McConville.

A US Court of Appeal ordered that 11 interviews out of 85 be handed over to Northern Irish authorities, after it found a lower court ordered the release of more information than legally required.

In a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry, the committee chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he was concerned the material’s release could threaten the peace process.

Mr Menendez demanded that the State department should vet the interviews to be handed over to determine whether their release would damage relations or counter US interest.

The New Jersey Democrat also said the US should invoke a clause in the Treaty with Britain to allow for the transfer of the interviews only for purposes which the US approves and has given consent to – which would allow the American government to bar the use of the interviews in civil proceedings.

“Our country made a significant diplomatic investment in resolving “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland,” Mr Menendez said in the letter.

“It would be a terrible error in judgement if the United States was to not engage now in the due diligence necessary to protest our investment in this hard-won peace.”

The letter was published on Boston College campaigner Ed Moloney’s website.

He and Mr McIntyre have welcomed the senator’s intervention and say they hope to see his requests translated into action.

The men carried out the interviews as part of the ‘Belfast Project’ which began in 2001 with republican and loyalist paramilitaries to form part of an oral history of the Troubles.

Ex-IRA member Dolours Price was one of the interviewees, and it is claimed the former prisoner discussed the disappearance of Ms McConville.

The mother of ten was abducted and murdered by the IRA in 1972. Her body was recovered more than 30 years later.

The interviews were conducted under the assurance that the tapes would not be made public while the subjects were still alive. Price was found dead at her home in Dublin in January this year.

Former IRA member Brendan Hughes, who also took part in the project, died in 2008.

Menendez Fires Volley Across British Bows On Boston College Archive

Menendez Fires Volley Across British Bows On Boston College Archive
Ed Moloney
The Broken Elbow

Senator Robert Melendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress has dramatically intervened in the Boston College subpoenas case by outlining a series of conditions that he says the US should impose if any further interviews from the Belfast Project archive at Boston College are handed over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) on foot of British subpoenas.

Menendez’s intervention came in the wake of the Boston-based First Circuit Court of Appeal’s June decision to impose separate limitations on the handover – reducing the number of interviews scheduled for handover from 85 to 12 – and only days after PSNI detectives had traveled to Boston to pick up tapes and transcripts of interviews made by the late Dolours Price, a former IRA member who in media interviews last autumn claimed to have helped ‘disappear’ alleged British Army informer Jean McConville in 1972.

The conditions outlined by Menendez were made in a letter sent to Secretary of State John Kerry on June 28th but only released last night to the media and they are sure to provoke controversy and opposition in some quarters in both parts of Ireland not least because the Senator lays claim to a US stake in the peace process and Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.

He wrote: “Our country made a significant diplomatic investment in resolving ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. It would be a terrible error of judgement if the United States was not to engage now in the due diligence necessary to protect our investment in this hard-won peace.” With this language the Senate leader is saying unequivocally that the US has an interest in the possible negative effect on the peace process of handing over the Boston College tapes.

Menendez makes two important demands of Kerry and the Obama administration. One is that the State Department should vet the interviews scheduled for handover to determine whether their release would damage inter-communal relations or be counter to US national interests. He went on: “I share the concerns of many in the Irish-American community who have asserted that the nature of this request raises doubts about the wisdom of the British government’s Northern Ireland policies.”

But it is his second demand that will anger some in Northern Ireland. He says that the US should invoke a clause in the Treaty with Britain which allows for the transfer of the interviews only for purposes which the US approves and has given consent to.

This clause would allow the United States to bar the British authorities from releasing the interviews for civil proceedings. Although Senator Menendez does not go into detail it is clear that the effect of this condition would be to stop the family of Jean McConville from suing Gerry Adams or any of the interviewees in a civil court, an outcome the family and their supporters have openly admitted is something they hope to see happening.

In a short statement Boston College campaigners Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre welcomed Senator Menendez’ intervention and said they hoped and expected to see his letter soon translated into action.

Here is the full text of Senator Menendez’s letter: