O’Malley Confirmation Hearing: Astoundingly Obtuse U.S. Policy Vision

Astoundingly Obtuse U.S. Policy Vision
Chris Bray
Thursday, July 17, 2014

Several news sources covered the July 15 confirmation hearing of St. Louis lawyer Kevin O’Malley, who was recently appointed by President Barack Obama to be the new U.S. ambassador to Ireland. But none fully caught the implications of his unfortunate answer to a question from Senator Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, regarding the ongoing PSNI effort to seek subpoenas of confidential Belfast Project interviews archived at Boston College.

Kaine asked if the PSNI was “re-litigating” the Good Friday Agreement. O’Malley’s answer can be seen on video here (fast forward to 1:20:00). Here’s what O’Malley said about further subpoenas:

“The Boston College study, which was a totally private, academic interest, here, the release of any more of the data in that I don’t believe will affect the peace process. I think that the accords are strong, I think there’s been now sixteen years of experience with them. So that the truth, or whatever is found in the Boston College study, will not cause anyone to repudiate the accords or go backwards.”

O’Malley went on to say that the arrest of Gerry Adams shows the need for the adoption of the Haass proposals, but the willful blindness of the first part of his answer negates any sense or value that the second part might have offered. The Boston College archives contain more than a hundred interviews with dozens of people who participated in loyalist and republican paramilitary organizations. Those interviews will necessarily contain detailed descriptions of serious violent action on both sides of the Troubles. And the State Department, represented here in the person of the soon-to-be-ambassador to Ireland, takes the position that the wholesale dumping of all of that sensitive material into the politics of Northern Ireland will have no affect on the peace process, because the peace is a virtually ancient and wholly secure sixteen years old. And then the second part of his answer acknowledges that no political framework has been established in Northern Ireland for managing questions about the past.

Compare the current view of this person nominated for a senior position in the State Department to the recent — and apparently repudiated — view once held by his soon-to-be-boss. John Kerry was certain in 2012 that a set of initial and relatively limited Boston College subpoenas were a threat to the peace process; now, apparently, not so much. Magic!

Ambassador-nominees are prepared for their confirmation hearings with a review of policy and a discussion of talking points. If Kevin O’Malley is telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the full release of all Belfast Project materials will have no effect on the peace process in Northern Ireland, he’s telling us the policy position of the U.S. government.

They are not paying attention.

In Belfast, the gunmen, the shadows, the damage done: BC exercise in idealism reopened old wounds

The gunmen, the shadows, the damage done: BC exercise in idealism reopened old wounds

With a promise of secrecy, Boston College recorded for history the voices of The Troubles in Ireland. But, the promise now broken, the aftershocks in Belfast are testing a fragile peace.

By Kevin Cullen
Boston Globe
July 06, 2014

WATCH VIDEO: ‘Belfast Project’ goes awry

BELFAST — Ricky O’Rawe picked up the package at his lawyer’s office downtown the first week of May.

It was a FedEx package, with a Chestnut Hill return address.

When he got back to his house on the Glen Road in West Belfast, O’Rawe opened the package and stared at its contents: transcripts, CDs, tapes. It was his story, the oral history he had given to Boston College, about his life in the Irish Republican Army.

The BC oral history project was envisioned as a treasure trove for historians to use in the future, as they seek to chronicle and comprehend the motivations of people who fought and killed and died here. But once hints about its controversial contents leaked out, it was police detectives, not academics, who began clamoring for the research.

O’Rawe was trying to figure out what to do with the returned materials when the police in Northern Ireland made the decision for him. On May 22, after the police announced they were seeking the entire Boston College archive, 60-year-old Ricky O’Rawe walked into his study, the walls lined with sepia-tinged photos of old comrades who died in the three decades of war that the Irish, with their propensity for understatement, call The Troubles.

He lit a fire and opened a bottle of Bordeaux. Then he threw his legacy, his story, his willingness to kill and be killed, onto the fire and watched it burn.

“It was a fine Bordeaux,” Ricky O’Rawe said. “It was a fine fire.”

If only it were as easy to get rid of the past in a country where some say there is no future, only history repeating, over and over again.

Here in Belfast, the BC archive, an academic exercise gone awry, has had the opposite of its intended, altruistic effect. An attempt to promote a kind of truth and reconciliation process in the North — a process never endorsed by or formalized by either government or civil society — the Boston College project has instead, at ground level in Belfast and beyond, engendered the sort of paranoia, furtive whispering, and fevered accusations that got people killed here for years.

It’s the new Troubles, a microcosm of the old, where individuals talk again of bloody conflict, this time over collective memories and the interpretation of what they all lived through. 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.

. . .

Belfast is shiny now. New hotels on and off Great Victoria Street glisten with the sort of glass windows that would have been reckless folly back in the days when bomb blasts were a daily occurrence. The white noise of hovering British army helicopters has given way to a vibrant nightlife, fueled by Queens University students who spill into town from a South Belfast campus that used to be a citadel back in the bad old days.

But in the neighborhoods where those who fought the war reside, in the still-grim housing estates, in the less salubrious pubs where grudges and pints are nursed, progress is not measured by bigger pay packets. Debates about the point or the pointlessness of the war go on, sometimes heatedly.

For more than 30 years, as The Troubles raged, the weapons of choice here in the north of Ireland were bombs and bullets. Now they’re words, some spoken in confidence, others sprayed on gabled walls.

The words spoken in confidence were given by 46 former combatants to researchers hired by Boston College. The so-called Belfast Project aimed to compile an oral history of the men and some women who fought for the Catholic and nationalist IRA that wanted a united Ireland, and those men from the Protestant loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Volunteer Force, that wanted to maintain the union with the United Kingdom.

The former bombers and gunmen were promised that whatever they said would remain under lock and key, at BC’s Burns Library, until they gave their permission to release it, or until they died.

It was an inspired idea, hatched in the heady days immediately following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which effectively ended The Troubles, an idealistic time when, as the great poet and native son Seamus Heaney put it, hope and history rhymed.

But it turned out to be a promise BC either wouldn’t or couldn’t keep. When police here launched a legal effort to seize specific portions of the BC archive three years ago, and the college reluctantly complied, the IRA and UVF men who gave interviews wished they had listened to Heaney’s earlier admonition when, at the height of the murderous tumult, he wrote, “Whatever you say, say nothing.”

The words sprayed on walls, meanwhile, almost hiss the most provocative word in the local vocabulary: tout.

In Northern Ireland, tout is the local slang for someone who informs against his comrades to the authorities. It is a word loaded with venom and lethal history. In a country where there is conspicuous respect for the dead, touts were treated with the least dignity. They were dispatched unceremoniously with shots to the head, their heads hooded, their hands tied behind their backs, their bodies discarded in roadside ditches, like animals that had the misfortune of being hit by a car.

Two months ago, after disclosures from the oral history project led to the arrest and questioning of the Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams in the horrific 1972 abduction, murder, and secret burial of Jean McConville, a Belfast mother of 10, the words “Boston College Touts” were whitewashed on a half-dozen walls across West Belfast, long the IRA heartland.

It was not an idle, schoolyard insult. It never has been in a land where careless words routinely led to shallow graves.

As someone who has been publicly identified as one of those who gave interviews to BC, Tommy Gorman knows that word — tout — is aimed at him. It alternately infuriates and worries him. Gorman spent 13 years in prison for IRA activity. He escaped from prison twice, evincing a level of defiance and resistance that should have ensured him a place in Irish republican folklore. Instead, some of his former comrades level at him the worst accusation a republican can throw at another.

“I never said a word about other IRA volunteers,” he said, putting his coffee down in a pub in the Andersonstown section of West Belfast. “I gave Boston College a personal remembrance of a bloody time in our history. That’s it.”

Gorman, 69, believes his real crime was to break with the IRA and Sinn Féin leadership over the direction of the peace process. He says Adams and the rest of the leadership compromised too much for too little. He has said loudly and clearly that settling for a seat in a local government that upholds the partition of Ireland, and a system squarely fixed against the interests of the working class, rendered The Troubles, and the death and sacrifice accompanying it, an appalling waste.

“We were willing to kill people,” Gorman said. “We were willing to die. What has transpired is not worth a drop of anyone’s blood, whether it was a British soldier, an IRA volunteer, or an innocent civilian. I fought against the Brits. I’m going to fight against them [Sinn Féin], too. When you step out of line, they call you a tout.”

I asked Tommy Gorman if he is worried about getting arrested.

“No,” he replied flatly, “I’m worried about getting shot. Not by my erstwhile enemies but by my erstwhile comrades. They’d get away with it, too, because they’re in the pockets of the Brits.”

After he was released without charge following four days of questioning, Gerry Adams rubbished the Boston College project as a well-intentioned but naive effort that has been hijacked and exploited by the very people who liked it better when Northern Ireland was at war.

He said BC’s decision to entrust the project to journalist Ed Moloney, who wrote a book that was hostile to Adams, and Anthony McIntyre, a former IRA prisoner turned BC researcher who has also been openly critical of Adams, was flawed and guaranteed to produce an oral history that was disproportionately biased against Adams and the Sinn Féin and IRA leadership.

“Everyone has the right to record their history,” Adams said in a statement, “but not at the expense of the lives of others.”

Adams has led Sinn Féin, the political wing of the IRA, since 1983, but he has always denied being a member of the IRA, a denial that infuriates some of his former comrades. He was widely credited with persuading the IRA to put aside its violent campaign, to disarm and disband, and to commit itself to a united Ireland achieved through peaceful means. He and many others see the police interest in him and the McConville case as politically motivated, and he and others have warned that politically motivated policing could seriously undermine the peace process.

But if the police wanted to hurt Adams and Sinn Féin, his arrest in May seemed to have the opposite effect. Sinn Féin did better in the local and European elections, north and south, than expected.

In early May, Adams praised BC’s offer to return the oral histories to those who gave them, “before the securocrats who cannot live with the peace seek to seize the rest of the archive and do mischief.”

A few weeks later, police here did just that, announcing a legal bid to seize the whole archive. That move came after police were widely criticized for being interested only in allegations against Adams, while ignoring potential crimes by loyalists or British government agents, who routinely helped loyalists target nationalists for assassination throughout The Troubles.

While the police are steadfastly pursuing BC’s files, they are less enthusiastic about turning over their own for scrutiny. The Police Service of Northern Ireland has refused to turn over files sought by the police ombudsman’s office about cases in which either police or the British military were accused of engaging or being complicit in some 60 extrajudicial killings.

. . .

Boston College, through its spokesman, Jack Dunn, agrees with Adams’ assessment about the lack of diversity of opinion in the oral history. Kevin O’Neill, a professor of history at BC who read a transcript of one of the interviews, said the line of McIntyre’s questioning suggested a clear perspective rather than an objective approach.

Sitting at his kitchen table in Drogheda, a town in the Irish Republic situated between Dublin and Belfast, McIntyre, who spent 18 years in prison for IRA activity before getting his PhD in Irish history at Queens, scoffs at that criticism. First, he says, those criticizing the diversity of opinion don’t know who was interviewed. Only a handful have been identified, all of them openly critical of Adams, some convinced he ordered Jean McConville’s murder.

But, even if most of those or even all of those interviewed disagreed with the peace strategy Adams pursued, McIntyre’s American-born wife, Carrie Twomey, asks, “So what?”

“It would still be a valuable history,” she said. “It’s a perspective you won’t get in the official history.”

Tommy Gorman, an IRA veteran, agrees.

“The Shinners’ view of history is the established view,” he says, using the nickname for members and supporters of Sinn Féin. “Ours is the challenging view.”

Adams vehemently denies any involvement in McConville’s murder and says the allegations against him are from former comrades turned enemies. He emerged from his four-day detention saying that his police interrogators based their queries on what was contained in the BC archive. He said he was interviewed 33 times during his 92 hours in custody. “For all I know, I can still face charges,” he said upon his release. “One presumes they would have made a charge against me. But they offered no evidence against me whatsoever.”

Moloney and McIntyre dismiss Adams’ complaints, even as they remain indignant that BC capitulated so quickly to demands from the US Justice Department for portions of the archive, at the request of their British law enforcement counterparts.

Carrie Twomey, meanwhile, worries about the safety of her husband, not to mention herself and their son and daughter.

“When you call someone a tout in Ireland,” she says, “it has consequences.”

Indeed, it has. In 2005, after it emerged that Denis Donaldson, the former chief of staff for Sinn Féin in the local assembly, was an informant for British intelligence, his name and “tout” went up on the walls. He was shot to death in a cottage in Donegal where he had gone to live in disgrace.

An even more sobering story was that of Gerry “Whitey” Bradley, an IRA veteran from North Belfast. Five years ago, he wrote a book about his life in the IRA. But he refused to submit the manuscript to the leadership of the republican movement, as is expected, because he didn’t want it censored. Bradley said it was his story, not others’, to tell. He said he went out of his way not to implicate or name people who went on IRA operations with him.

As Bradley envisioned it, his story was almost a mini-version of the BC project, one man’s story. He thought it portrayed the IRA in a good light.

“The last thing I wanted to do was hurt people,” he told the Irish Republican News in 2009.

“As far as my story is concerned, it’s my story, what I went through, and what hundreds and thousands of people my age went through. It talks about the unsung heroes and their identities are kept to the minimum. . . . It explains to the outside world why we did this, why we dedicated our lives. I stepped out of the ranks to get this book out. I stepped out of line to do this. I don’t believe in censorship. I believe everybody has a right to their opinion.”

But not everybody believed Whitey Bradley had a right to his. Soon after the book was published, Bradley’s name and the word tout were whitewashed on walls in his Ardoyne neighborhood. He was shunned. He soon left Ardoyne.

“He was humiliated,” says Gerard “Hodgie” Hodgins, a former IRA prisoner who spent 20 days on hunger strike in 1981 before the IRA called it off. “He was a soldier. Not a politician.”

Overwhelmed by his ostracization and in poor health, Whitey Bradley drove to Carrickfergus Castle, a medieval edifice once controlled by English colonizers, and killed himself.

On the loyalist side of the divide here, there is also consternation, and deep worry, about what the police might do with the oral histories provided by former UVF gunmen. William “Plum” Smith, a former loyalist paramilitary, now works to reintegrate loyalist prisoners into the community. He gave BC an interview, hoping his experience would help others embroiled in conflict find a way toward reconciliation. He is appalled it is having the opposite effect.

Smith thinks the police seeking, and BC giving up, the tapes has ruined the possibility of any thoughtful effort to draw lessons and heal wounds from such a sustained period of violence and conflict. Smith doesn’t think anyone engaged in armed conflict will risk arrest, or worse, to help the “recovered truth” process.

Plum Smith and another leading loyalist, Winston “Winkie” Rea, called on BC to destroy the archive, but BC chose to offer to return the interviews to those who gave them.

While worried speculation and some angry finger-pointing is taking place in loyalist communities, the fallout in republican circles is far more poisonous and far more ominous.

That could be because the armed struggle of the IRA has morphed into an arm-twisting struggle over who gets to claim the republican mantle, however tattered it may be. It is a fresh manifestation of that repeating pattern, the past forever muscling into the present. Irish history is replete with examples of revolutionary movements putting aside their weapons to take up the reins of democratic power. In each instance, a rump of republican resistance refused to do so, remaining outside the mainstream and the establishment, fighting on. Eamon de Valera, for example, led the rebels who refused to go along with the compromise with the British that created the Irish Free State in 1922; when de Valera came in from the cold and took power in the fledgling Irish Republic, he turned out to be harsher against the IRA rump he once led than the British were.

None of those identified as taking part in the Boston College project support the armed dissident groups, such as the Real IRA, who continue to use violence to seek their holy grail: a united socialist republic encompassing the entire island of Ireland.

Ricky O’Rawe is one who believes violence is futile now. In hindsight, he believes it was futile all along. O’Rawe’s falling out with Adams and the rest of the republican leadership can be traced to the 1981 hunger strikes, when Bobby Sands became the first of 10 men to starve themselves to death while demanding they be treated as political prisoners.

O’Rawe, who was in prison at the time and served as the hunger strikers’ spokesman, was one of the so-called IRA blanket men, who refused to wear prison uniforms and instead wrapped themselves in blankets. In 2005, he wrote an explosive book that accused Adams and IRA leaders of letting six of the 10 hunger strikers die, rather than accept a compromise with the British government. Adams and other republican leaders insisted O’Rawe was bitter and delusional. Many others believe O’Rawe, noting that the prospect of IRA men being seen as martyrs willing to die for principle gave the republican movement its biggest propaganda coup during a long and dirty war.

“What you’re seeing today, in the recrimination over the Boston College project, is really just a wider example of the whole intolerance for dissent within the republican movement,” O’Rawe said. “The irony is, I agree with the peace. I just disagree with the party. I think the war was an act of folly. It couldn’t be won. It took someone like Adams — Machiavellian, devious, determined, able to talk out of both sides of his mouth — to end this act of folly. I give him full credit for that. I’m glad he gave up the guns. I just disagree with the Stalinism, the idea that you can’t disagree with the leadership.”

. . .

At one level, the fallout from the BC project demonstrates that Northern Ireland is no longer the place it was. Disputes that used to get settled with a gun have, so far, been confined to bitter words and to people retaining lawyers.

O’Rawe has sued Boston College for breach of contract, contending he was misled into believing his account would not be used against him in a court of law. O’Rawe doesn’t understand why BC turned over his tapes because he said he knew nothing about the McConville case. He was in a different IRA unit than the one that abducted McConville.

“I knew [nothing at] all about Jean McConville,” he said. “It was D Company, in the Lower Falls, that did that. I was in Ballymurphy,” farther up and off the Falls in West Belfast.

One of the great, sad ironies in this whole debacle is that Boston in general and Boston College in particular had been regarded fondly in many parts of Northern Ireland as having played a largely positive role in the peace process. Boston was always seen as the moderate base of Irish-America, less in thrall to extremists, more focused on finding middle ground, even as it welcomed former revolutionaries from both sides of the divide who said they were determined to use peaceful means to achieve political ends.

BC, meanwhile, did more than any American university to engage both the political and civil society on both sides of the Irish border. 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.

Last week, Anthony McIntyre was listening to the radio when the song “More Than a Feeling,” by Boston, came on.

“It used to be one of my favorite songs,” he said. “But when it came on the other day, I was, like, ‘Screw it. I hate it now.’ I don’t like anything that has Boston in it now.”

Vortex of violence ensnared innocents such as Irish priest

Vortex of violence ensnared innocents such as Irish priest
By James F. Burns
Special to The Sun
The Gainesville Sun
7 June 2014

“Father! Come quickly — a terrible road accident and a lad needs last rites.” A knock on the door had summoned the Rev. Eugene McCoy to a sacred task. The Irish priest left in such haste with the men at his door that he forgot his rosary beads.

McCoy became suspicious when the car ferrying him to the accident scene suddenly swerved off the main road and pulled up in front of a ramshackle mobile home in a remote location. Taken inside, he was led to a back bedroom when he found a distraught young man bound hand and foot on the bed.

The priest had been tricked — but for a holy purpose — into being part of a paramilitary execution. He begged for Eamon Molloy’s life but to no avail. Death sentences are seldom commuted by the Irish Republican Army.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams is a master magician. At least, that was Ed Moloney’s allegation in his 2002 book “A Secret History of the IRA.” Adams could make people disappear. He also excelled as a tightrope walker, gingerly treading the line linking politics with paramilitary activity. He would even carry coffins at IRA funerals and said he supported the IRA — but was never a member, mind you, another Houdini-like escape.

And like every good magician, Adams didn’t like secrets leaking out. Snitches were snuffed. And then made to disappear. Someone high up in the IRA command structure — Adams’ republican critics have nicknamed him “Itwasntme” — suggested that dumping bodies in the street had lost its deterrent effect and could even be embarrassing. Presto, Jean McConville, mother of 10, disappeared — for 31 years. Likewise, no one seemed to know where Eamon Molloy was — for 24 years. And so on.

And then the story moves to County Louth, Ireland’s littlest county and one right smack on the border created by the 1920 partition of Ireland into the six-county British province of Northern Ireland and the 26-county Irish Republic. The IRA was waging a war to erase that border; IRA math said that 26 + 6 = 1, i.e., a united Ireland. Their primarily-Protestant opponents did a different math, pointing out that “6 into 26 won’t go,” emphasis on “won’t” and with their own loyalist paramilitaries as enforcers.

Inevitably, the vortex of violence spilled over the border, ensnaring innocents such as McCoy, a County Louth parish priest. Louth was an ideal location for launching IRA attacks, secretly burying bodies, safe houses and field-testing bombs.

The 1998 Northern Ireland peace agreement turned terrorism to truce for the most of the combatants but left a lot of legacy issues unresolved, such as unsolved murders and parade route and flag issues. But life went on, and efforts evolved to understand the three decades of chaos and killing.

One post-peace project was Boston College’s collection of oral histories — confessions, if you will — by both IRA and loyalist terrorists, a valuable resource for future research. The 46 participants were supposedly given an iron-clad guarantee that their taped testimony would remain sealed until after their deaths.

But U.S. law was “treaty-trumped” in court by a bilateral agreement with the U.K., allowing release of some tapes for criminal investigation of Jean McConville’s murder. And the deaths of two terrorists had already allowed Ed Moloney to convert their tapes into another book laden with more accusations against Gerry “Itwasntme” Adams.

Sorrow knows no border, grief no religion, pain no politics — which is to say that all families, all friends, who have had their loved ones murdered during the Troubles deserve sympathy and support. The recent 40th anniversary of the dastardly loyalist bombings of Dublin and Monaghan that claimed 33 lives, including a mother and her two infant daughters, bears witness to the heartbreak on both sides of the border, both sides of the sectarian divide.

And who could not feel compassion for poor Father McCoy, caught up in a killing he could not stop. And there’s the final Irish irony of this sad tale. Resolved to administering last rites to Eamon Molloy, he realized that he had indeed forgotten his rosary beads in the hasty departure from home.

In a mix of the sacred with the sordid, one of the IRA men reached into his pocket and handed the priest his own rosary beads. Was it the same hand that then pulled the trigger?

James F. Burns, a retired University of Florida professor, formerly taught at Boston College and also stayed in County Louth with his family while on sabbatical in the British Isles.

Rep. King: ‘I have every reason to believe Gerry Adams’

Rep. King: ‘I have every reason to believe Gerry Adams’
By Niall Stanage
The Hill
05/01/14 08:32 PM EDT

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) sprang to the defense of Irish politician Gerry Adams Thursday, as Adams was held in police custody in Northern Ireland in connection with a 1972 murder.

Since 1983, Adams has been the leader of Sinn Fein, a party that for many years served as the political wing of the Irish Republican Army (I.R.A.). He is being questioned, but has not been charged, in relation to the killing of widowed mother-of-10 Jean McConville in 1972.

Adams has strenuously denied any involvement in the murder — and King says he takes the Sinn Fein leader at his word.

“I have every reason based on his past record to believe Gerry Adams,” King told The Hill. “I have known him since the early ‘80s and he has never told me something that turned out to be untrue.”

King added that his faith in Adams was also rooted in observing the Irish Republican leader during the tortuous years of negotiation that led to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the accord responsible for largely ending three decades of violence.

“In my dealings with Bill Clinton, George Mitchell [the former Senate majority leader who chaired the peace negotiations] and even [former British prime minister] Tony Blair, they always said that the one guy who could be counted on to deliver what he said he could deliver was Adams,” King said. “He never lied to them, he never misled.”

Adams does, however, deny ever having been a member of the I.R.A., a claim that is viewed with deep skepticism across the political spectrum in Ireland.

The I.R.A. took McConville from her home in a staunchly Irish nationalist area of West Belfast in December 1972. The guerrilla group claimed that she was an informer for the British, though this has always been denied by her family. McConville was shot dead. Her body was buried in the Republic of Ireland and lay undiscovered until 2003.

The investigation into her killing has only picked up pace recently. The catalysts for that appear to have been allegations against Adams from two former comrades who later split with him, believing the political strategy he pursued was too accommodationist with the British.

Brendan Hughes, a onetime I.R.A. commander in Belfast, and Dolours Price, one of the organization’s most prominent women, alleged that Adams authorized McConville’s killing. Hughes died in February 2008 and Price died in January 2013. Allies of Adams contend that the two had axes to grind.

King is clearly on the pro-Adams side of that question, also suggesting the arrest had been timed to hinder Sinn Fein’s performance in local and European elections that will take place this month.

“This has been around for years, with these allegations. Why they [law enforcement in Northern Ireland] decided to push it now, at this stage, with elections a few weeks off…” King said.

Referring to Hughes by his commonly-used nickname, the New York congressman added, “As I understand it, these allegations are based off what Darkie Hughes and Dolours Price said… I’m not arguing [Adams’] case for him, but the fact is that these two people hated him because of his role in the peace process.”

Throughout his career, King has sometimes received criticism because of his sympathies for Irish republicanism. Back in 1982, King told a pro-I.R.A rally in Long Island, N.Y., that, “We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry.” His defenders say he played a helpful role during the crucial early stages of the Irish peace process.

The Hill contacted four lawmakers who have been known for their engagement in Irish issues, but King was the only one who agreed to speak about Adams directly. Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) issued a statement noting that Adams had met with police voluntarily, adding that “I have also condemned the killing of Jean McConville in the strongest possible terms.”

A spokeswoman for Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y) said he was unavailable. The office of Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) did not respond to requests for comment.

Adams in DC: Confirmed, and Still Ignored

Adams in DC: Confirmed, and Still Ignored
Chris Bray
Friday, May 30, 2014

A news story on the website of RTE, Ireland’s national broadcaster, confirms that Gerry Adams discussed his arrest with American officials during his visit to Washington. While the PSNI pursues new subpoenas, the RTE headline tells the whole story: “Adams arrest discussed at Washington briefing.”

An email to Adams’ office this morning produced a list of officials who met with Adams: In addition to a sizable group of Congressmen — gendered term intended, because he somehow only met with men — Adams met with some moderately well-placed officials at the State Department. The White House took relatively little notice of the meeting, sticking Adams with an official from the Office of the Vice-President. Imagine flying four thousand miles and then finding yourself in a meeting with the vice-president’s staff.

In any event, yes: Gerry Adams was in a foot race with the PSNI, talking to U.S. government officials about his arrest and the foolishness of the police investigation at exactly the moment the police are trying to get new subpoenas of the Boston College archival material that they hope to use against him.

Besides RTE, which news organizations noticed the presence in the capital of a foreign official engaged in a lobbying effort against a criminal investigation that the United States is helping with? Take a look:

adams blackout

When I picture the American news media, I imagine a little ring of saliva around the spot on the desk where they put their heads during nap time.

Adams in Washington DC: Blackout

Blackout
Chris Bray
29 May 2014

Gerry Adams is in Washington, D.C. today, “briefing senior political figures and the Obama administration on the current difficulties within the peace process.” He is, in other words, lobbying one of the governments that’s supposedly trying to put him in prison. Taking the mutual legal assistance treaty process and the PSNI investigation at face value, Adams is trying to talk a murder investigation off the rails — to use politics against the police. Of course, taking that investigation at face value is…problematic, and the more likely reality is that an Irish politician is employing diplomacy this morning against a nasty piece of British politics.

Still, the drama in the moment is extraordinary: The same month he walked away from four days of police interrogation over a murder, a prominent politician is in the country where the supposed evidence against him was found, publicly announcing his intent to meet with officials in the government that helped to get him arrested. It’s as if a murder suspect in New York City walked out of the interrogation room, smiled, buttoned up the cuffs of his shirt, and sauntered over to City Hall to have coffee with the mayor, patting a detective on the head as he left the precinct.

But then here’s the fucking incredible part: The American news media isn’t covering the visit at all. As I write this on Thursday morning, Adams has been in the country for about 24 hours, and no American news source that I can find has even mentioned his presence. He got to D.C. last night: nothing. Silence. Try your own search terms, but here are the results of a Google News search for “Gerry Adams Washington DC,” narrowed to the last 24 hours:

no gerry

Why is this not news? Adams is here to kill the PSNI’s new request for subpoenas, full stop. He’s here to prevent the complete disclosure of an entire archive full of detailed and extensive interviews about paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. The stakes are plainly very high, for both Adams and Northern Ireland as a whole, and Adams will be urging the U.S. government to take a step that will put it sharply at odds with one of its closest allies. It’s a dramatic narrative and an important piece of policy news at the same time, crossing multiple beats: diplomacy, law enforcement, Irish politics, the state of the peace process in Northern Ireland. Reporters, who is Gerry Adams meeting with? Does he have a meeting at the Department of Justice?

How is it that this aggressive piece of high stakes diplomacy is drawing no attention at all?

TRANSCRIPT: The Fall Out from the Boston College Tapes Continues

The Fall Out from the Boston College Tapes Continues
The Adrian Flannelly Show
Irish Radio Network USA
May 24, 2014

Northern Ireland’s Police Service has initiated steps to demand from Boston College the remainder of the 46 confidential oral histories conducted with members of the IRA and loyalist militias involved in the decades long war as part of the school’s Belfast Project. In meantime, an article that appeared in Ireland’s Sunday World online news edition claims that Anthony McIntyre — who was the main researcher of the Oral History project at Boston College- and his wife US citizen Carrie Twomey are now seeking political asylum –- Carrie Twomey denies any of this and claims that somebody was listening in to her telephone conversations with the US Embassy in Ireland.

Click here to listen

Adrian Flannelly (AF) interviews Carrie Twomey (CT) via telephone from Ireland about allegations made in a recent Irish tabloid about her and her husband Anthony McIntyre, the lead researcher for the Boston College tapes.

AF: We’re going to go to Ireland and we will catch up with Carrie Twomey who is the wife of Anthony McIntyre. Anthony McIntyre was indeed the – correct me if I’m wrong here – first of all Good Morning, to you. Well, it’s Good Morning in New York and Good Afternoon to you, Carrie.

CT: Good Morning. Good Morning. And Good Afternoon. And thank you for having me today.

AF: I just want to check a few things with you. Your husband, Anthony McIntyre, was hired by Boston College to conduct interviews for the Boston College oral archive.

Is that pretty much it?

CT: Yes. Boston College contracted Ed Moloney as project director for what they called The Belfast Project which was meant to be an oral history archive of people that were involved in The Troubles.

It was based on the idea of the Bureau of Military History where they had also done archived interviews and recorded the history of what went on.

And Anthony was hired to conduct the interviews. Which he did. He conducted interviews – many hours of interviews with twenty-six people.

He was hired because first of all he has his PhD. His PhD is in the history of the Provisional IRA and the formation of it and he is academically trained.

And he is also a former IRA Volunteer who did eighteen years in Long Kesh. He was there during the blanket protest – he was four years on the blanket and no-wash protest and he was there during the hunger strikes.

And he would have the experience and the knowledge and the training to conduct an oral history very much in the vein of what we now see being published in the third volume of Ernie O’Malley’s oral history of the IRA from the 20’s and whatnot.

It’s an honoured tradition that he’s following in.

AF: A story, maybe even two stories carried by The Sunday World tabloid, which is a very popular paper in Ireland, in the northern edition they have carried some allegations which you don’t agree with including the fact – well, you can tell us the fact – but the amount of money paid to Anthony and then an add-on to that that you were being paid as his assistant.

Can you straighten that out for us?

CT: Yes. There have been a number of allegations floating both in cyberspace and commentary and specifically published in The Sunday World tabloid about Anthony’s role in the project.

And our safety is very much at risk – graffiti is sprayed up and down on the walls of the Falls Road: “Boston College Touts” – “In-Former Republicans” and so there’s an issue being made of how much money Anthony made or was paid or was paid to conduct these interviews which amount to twenty-five grand a year.

AF: That’s twenty-five thousand pounds?

CT: Yeah. That’s not a lot of money. He did not make any money from the book because he had nothing to do with the book – he was not involved in it.

He did not make any money from the documentary because he was again not involved in it.

I was never hired nor worked on the Boston project as is being alleged.

Number One: I understood at the time that the project was being conducted the issue of how sensitive the material was and it was in my own interest, safety-wise, to have nothing to do with it – to not know anything about it.

And Number Two: There was never a position there anyway! I never worked on the Boston project.

I became involved in the campaign to stop the subpoenas but that’s not a paid position. I’m not hired by anybody. I’m doing this because I love my husband and I want to protect my family.

It’s just a lot of scary stuff happening and The Sunday World – they carried an article labeling Mr. Ivor Bell an informer, a “tout”.

He’s a seventy-seven year old man that’s charged with aiding and abetting and he’s the only person who has been charged in relation to the Boston tapes being subpoenaed…well, the McConville case I should say.

And the article discussed the anger that’s felt and the graffiti and named a bunch a people and named people that weren’t even involved in the Boston project and made the allegations of Anthony having tonnes of money and myself also being employed.

All rubbish. All wrong. And all very worrying because it obviously stokes up the hate campaign that’s being directed against the people that participated in the project.

And I alerted the embassy to the heightened level of threat that we’re facing…

AF: Now okay….just wait. There’s one thing I want to straighten out now: you’re American. You have two children who are American citizens.

So the conversation in the area that I would like to address is what appears to be and obviously it’s not so that you were looking for asylum for your husband, Anthony, in the United States. Because that’s the thrust of the story in The Sunday World.

CT: Yes. And I have never made a visa application and never discussed asylum with the embassy in the main because the embassy, in my communications with the State Department, have made it explicitly clear that Anthony will never be allowed in the US.

There’s no point to make any application on anything because it’s not going to happen…

AF: Just tell us why. Just tell us why that is so.

CT: Because he has the conviction for an IRA murder so in the eyes of the government he was a terrorist. And post 9/11 especially – he’s just not allowed to come in.

I’ve known this for years so this is not anything new.

And I have been very upfront – I even think that we may have discussed it in the previous interviews that we’ve done – that I have been in contact with the embassy and the consulate raising the issue trying to get the subpoenas stopped because of the safety issue so that’s never been any secret.

But the claim that I am begging for asylum? No.

No. I know that asylum is not going to happen. It’s not on the table.

What I am begging for is for the US government to stop facilitating this British grab and criminalisation of Irish history because of the danger it poses to our family.

So I had sent them The Sunday World article about Mr. Bell, just because I document everything, alerting them to the heightened risks that we’re facing and then later had a phone conversation with the embassy in which I was very angry

AF: The American Embassy in Dublin or in Belfast?

CT: The American Embassy in Dublin – Yes – for which we still do not have an Ambassador.

And I was very angry because I just think that this is a situation that has – three years we have spent pointing out exactly where this is going. And for three years we have wanted an adult to step forward and stop the train wreck and everybody’s passed the buck – nothing’s been done and [they've all] allowed this to continue.

I don’t want my family or the participants in this project to be the collateral damage for the United States protecting the assets of the British. I am livid over that.

So I had this conversation and I followed it up with an email that documented the contents of the conversation with the embassy.

The conversation was on Wednesday. The email was on Thursday.

And on Sunday, The Sunday World tabloid ran with a story that I had been in touch with the US administration that week, that I had begged for asylum, that Anthony was mentally unwell, that I wanted to escape the nightmare, that I had worked for Boston College – again repeating about Anthony’s earnings…

I mean, just a scurrilous, scurrilous piece and very alarming because of the risk that it poses to our safety but extremely alarming because it means that my communications with the embassy are compromised either by surveillance, electronic – through the phone, the email -

Or there’s been a serious breech of protocol and illegal privacy violations.

And I have asked the State Department for a formal investigation into the matter. I have also lodged a complaint with the Garda because this is a very serious issue.

If it’s not my phone and my email or my family being monitored this is the US government’s communications that are compromised.

And I think that the Irish government should take this very seriously whatever way this works out. This needs to be investigated.

How does this end up in The Sunday World?

Because I didn’t call The Sunday World and The Sunday World certainly did not and still have yet to call me.

AF: You’ve have no communication with them, directly or indirectly.

CT: Pardon?

AF: You have had no communication with The Sunday World at all. Have they tried to talk to you?

CT: No. No, they have not. Since they’ve been running these stories they have not.

Now I know a fella that writes for The Sunday World and I have spoken to him, actually I just emailed him, asking for a copy of the article and that’s the only contact that I have had and that was after this.

But in terms of the reporter writing the story, the editor, anybody involved in the publication of the story? No. I have not had any contact with The Sunday World whatsoever.

AF: Do you agree, Carrie, do you agree that it was probably, that had it not been for the arrest of Gerry Adams in the lead-up to the elections, that there wouldn’t be a story here at all?

CT: Oh, I think that the arrest of Adams has definitely contributed to the atmosphere and the interest and the threat that we are living under right now – yes.

And I think that that’s why these malicious stories and untrue stories are being peddled around because of the arrest of Adams in particular.

I mean, you and I sat down how many years ago on this issue basically outlining where it would go if it wasn’t stopped?

And here we are where we knew where it would end up if it wasn’t stopped.

This is I think is the greatest act of British vandalisation of Irish history in recent times and they’re criminalising Irish history and I think that’s objectionable and we should be stopping it.

We have the right to tell our history – whatever perspective you’re coming from – and it should not be criminalised.

And that was always the fight: was to not to criminalise history. To resist the subpoenas based on the academic confidentiality that historians do not do the work of the police and…it’s just…

How much and how little has changed.

AF: Carrie Twomey, my guest, is the wife of Anthony McIntyre, who conducted the interviews. There are a couple of things that I’d like to sort out.

There are rumours and insinuations that your husband, Anthony McIntyre, was not paid directly by Boston College at all. That in fact, the project director, Ed Moloney…

CT: (laughs)

AF: Okay, well…I guess you’re answering the question there.

CT: That’s the first that I’ve heard that!

AF: Okay…

CT: Yeah…that’s not true. He was paid by Boston College.

And if fact, anybody who has an academic contract will recognise this: Every few months when the funding runs out and you’re coming to the end of the contract and you’re like oh! what are we going to do and you’re counting your pennies and then the funding always comes through on the last day and then you’re good for another six months – I mean – that was all Boston College and pretty ridiculous to think otherwise.

AF: Okay. Now was there another source of income for your family? You do have two children and you do live in Ireland and have lived in Ireland.

Was the payment from Boston College – was that pretty much the source of revenue for your household?

CT: Yes. We lived in Belfast at the time. My children were much younger then – in fact I think I only had one child at the start of the project.

And I was (and still am) a housewife. One of the benefits that I found as an American living in Ireland was that I could stay home with my children.

The cost of childcare – were I to be working as well as Anthony be working – I would have been paying to work basically because as many working mothers know – it’s extremely difficult for enough child care to cover your ability to freely work.

So we made the decision that I would be a full-time mom and stay at home.

Also the nature of the project itself and the hours that Anthony would be working were not a set kind of thing. It wasn’t like I knew he would be from nine to five and then I could take an evening job and he could mind the kid.

It wouldn’t work like that. He could be gone at any time and he could be gone overnight at any time. So I had to be the dedicated homebody and minding the child.

Which I did and nobody paid me for that. I think we may have gotten child benefits which, if I remember correctly but I would honestly have to check, it would have been maybe eleven quid a week or something – not a lot of money and Anthony was the sole breadwinner….

AF: …Just to put that in perspective: if that was eleven quid as you say a week that amounts to what? About fifteen dollars?

CT: I don’t know and I wouldn’t stand over the amount of it but it wasn’t a huge amount of child benefits, I mean it was….

AF: …And that you were entitled to regardless, right?

CT: Yes. I’m entitled to child benefit down here and that amounts to I think two hundred and sixty a month for the two children. And that’s my income so…not a lot of money.

AF: Carrie, I do want to ask you a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up?

CT: I grew up in southern California.

AF: And when did you meet Anthony?

CT: I had read a number of articles and letters that he had written in the Andersonstown News online and I had sent him an email because I appreciated his politics. It was a long email – you know – “keep your chin up” because I could see he was pushing a very hard road and an isolated road.

AF: You were a pen pal were you! Were you a pen pal?

CT: It was a very short period. Because I sent him this thing thinking: If someone in Los Angeles is thinking that you’re right then you can’t be all that wrong – because I understood the principles that he was talking about.

He didn’t read the email! (laughs) Because it was too long!

AF: Okay.

CT: So then they had started the Irish Republican Writers Group and made a website and there was an email link on the website that didn’t work. And I emailed him again and said: By the way, did you know that this link doesn’t work and if you need any help with your website let me know.

Because that email was just two lines he replied. And we started chit-chatting just on the politics of things.

At that point I knew that I wanted to come to Ireland. I never wanted to do the two week tour as I had such an interest in Irish history and recent Irish history that I knew I needed to either come to Ireland and understand it on a day-to-day level or just get a new hobby and move on in California.

My work situation opened up where I had the opportunity and I thought I don’t want to be sixty years old and wondering “what if”. So I packed my life into six suitcases and I had a friend in Drogheda (who is Godmother to my daughter) and she said: I have a spare room. And I came over.

And this was at the time when immigration was much more lax and I thought: Okay. I have three months and if I like it I’ll do what I can to secure legal status and if I don’t I’ll come home and continue on in my career. I was a union organiser at the time.

AF: When did you meet Ed Moloney then who is the, hired separately we have to assume – correct me on anything I’m saying – but he was hired separately as director of the Boston College oral project pertaining to the history of The Troubles.

So when did you meet with Ed Moloney?

CT: I would have met him…I remember distinctly the evening that Anthony and I had dinner in his home but I can’t remember exactly when it was – but it would have been sometime before the project began I would think.

Because he and Anthony had been friends and had known each other for some time. I arrived in 2000 and the project started in 2001.

So I would have met him sometime in the Summer but I didn’t have a lot of contact with him. He was a journalist and he was somebody that Anthony knew and that knew Anthony and they had a friendship.

AF: Carrie, what about the rumours that say that from the get-go that Ed Moloney and your husband, Anthony McIntyre, had agreed to derive income a book based on the tapes?

CT: I’d really like to know where that money is because we could use it right now! (laughs)

AF: That’s why I’m talking to you.

CT: My husband made no money from any book.

And in fact the one book that my husband did do, his own book, which was a compilation of essays that he had written for our website, The Blanket, and it was picked up by a small publisher based in New York, Ausubo Press, he was paid an advance of five hundred US dollars which amounted to two hundred and fifty sterling for that book. And we recently got our first royalty check because the advance had finally been paid off with the sales – and our first royalty check was five dollars.

That’s the money that my husband has made from books.

There was no, at least from our perspective, there was no desire to do any book at the start of the project because the whole point of the project was to be confidential. The archive was there to be for the future and the whole thing was the confidentiality and the protection and the secrecy of doing this because of the dangers it posed doing.

And we can see those dangers evident today in how many people are outraged that this project was even done.

I am strongly of the opinion that the more history the better – the better we understand history – that we should not be restricted to one viewpoint only of what has occurred. And everybody has the right to tell their history. So I was very supportive of Anthony doing this.

But it was never about books or money or what could be earned from it. It was about the ability to put voices to the record and that was what was important to my husband.

AF: Now of the interviews which your husband, Anthony McIntyre, conducted to what degree – we’re talking about were most or all of those interviews strictly with the Nationalists – those who were involved in the IRA – or were there others?

CT: The archive itself was meant to expand as it went along.

It started with Anthony doing the interviews with the Republicans and then another researcher/interviewer, Wilson McArthur, was brought along to do the same thing in the Loyalist community. And…

AF: …Was there any communication, for instance, with Anthony and the other interviewer?

CT: There would be in terms of organisational communications i.e.: here’s Tom Hachey and Bob O’Neill coming over to Ireland – everybody needs to meet and discuss the project.

Not in terms of: discuss the contents of the interviews or who was being interviewed. But in terms of: where’s the funding at, are the contracts being renewed, how’s the procedure for the transport of the archive. You know, organisational matters.

But Anthony would have no idea and nothing to do with what Wilson’s work was and Wilson likewise would have had no idea or nothing to do with what Anthony was doing.

And I also want to point out in terms of the confidentiality of the project and how paramount it was and how much it was believed at the time of the project that the confidentiality guarantee was there is that my husband was one of the people who himself was interviewed.

Now he didn’t interview himself – he was interviewed by an academic. But he would not expose anybody that he was asking to also participate in the archive to any risks that he himself did not expose himself to.

So he also contributed his history and his oral history archive to the archive. That really I think says it all in terms of what the belief at the start of this project was.

AF: Carrie, we’re running out of time. I want to thank you for joining us this morning and indeed straightening out some of the confusing reports that we get.

CT: I appreciate your having me and I am always willing to speak to anybody.

If The Irish Voice or The Irish Echo, I’ve spoken with Ray before, if anybody has any questions on anything I am more than happy to clarify.

We don’t have to agree on any of the politics but the facts are easy to ascertain and I’m quite happy to help and assist in any way that I can.

And we do have the bostoncollegesubpeona.wordpress.com or if you search for Boston College subpoena news. I update it regularly. It has everything: contracts, court documents, the recent…

AF: ..Okay.

CT: …Sorry, I don’t mean to go on but we’re available (to check facts).

AF: Very good. Okay. We’ve got to leave it at that, Carrie Twomey, thank you for joining us on Irish Radio Network USA. And friends you are listening to Irish Radio Network and our guest there, Carrie Twomey.

(ends)

 

The Podium: The Belfast Tapes by Thomas P. O’Neill III

The Podium: The Belfast Tapes
By Thomas P. O’Neill III
Boston Globe
April 29, 2014

Last month, I listened as former President Bill Clinton delivered the inaugural lecture for the Hume-O’Neill Chair in Peace Studies at the University of Ulster Magee Campus in Derry, Northern Ireland. Clinton’s address conveyed a simple, yet powerful, message: Northern Ireland has made enormous strides in the peace and reconciliation process, but the job is still not finished.

These words not only resonated throughout Northern Ireland, they have taken on considerable meaning for the United States — and specifically for the City of Boston.

Boston College is immersed in a complex legal battle with the British government over the Belfast Tapes, an academic oral history project that has been tragically compromised as a result of Northern Irish political infighting and a misguided hunt for criminal justice.

Boston College commenced the Belfast Tapes project in 2001, appointing former IRA volunteer and prisoner Anthony McIntyre as the interviewer and Ed Moloney, a journalist with deep ties to both sides of the conflict, as the supervisor. With the Belfast Tapes, Boston College sought to intertwine modern academia and the college’s Irish roots to document the Troubles and the peace process of Northern Ireland.

In February of 2010, former IRA paramilitary Dolours Price gave interviews with Irish media in which she revealed that she had participated in the Belfast Project, and told them that she and current Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams were involved in the 1972 abduction and murder of Belfast mother of 10, Jean McConville. This admission quickly sparked a series of subpoenas issued to Boston College by the US Department of Justice on behalf of the United Kingdom in May and August of 2011, requesting the tapes and transcripts for use in criminal investigations.

Undoubtedly, the murder of Jean McConville was an especially gruesome war crime and her family deserves justice. However, the investigation smacks of political motivation. Of the scores of murders committed during the Troubles, the British government is seeking only to investigate that of Jean McConville in what can be construed as an attempt to implicate Gerry Adams and jeopardize his current position within the Irish parliament.

For decades, the Northern Ireland conflict has existed as a polarizing issue for many US politicians as well as officials at the White House and the Department of State. The United States Department of State has historically acted in favor of the British government, long considered our staunchest ally, and complies with their requests time and again.

On this issue, our relations with Britain have not always been smooth. My father, former Speaker of the House “Tip” O’Neill, worked tirelessly with fellow Irish-American politicians to denounce the violence in Northern Ireland and to craft a peace accord for warring factions. He convinced Presidents Carter and Reagan to press the British government on the conflict and questioned their peacekeeping efforts, an act that challenged the stance of the Department of State.

The Belfast Tapes have exposed truths about the Troubles that reawaken feelings of betrayal and bitterness among former members of the IRA. These truths should be used as a form of catharsis and as a vehicle toward peace and reconciliation for Northern Ireland. Instead, the United States and Great Britain are allowing these truths to be used in ways that appear, frankly, both selective and political.

In the Boston College case, our “special relationship’’ with Britain is raising serious and troubling questions: Are we abridging academic freedom in ways that will prevent participants in major international issues from stepping forward with their stories? Is the British demand for documents, and its search for alleged wrongdoing, driven as much by the politics of Ireland today as it is by the search for justice for past crimes? And why, when both sides in the Troubles were guilty of so much wrongdoing, is the British prosecution seemingly intent on only pursuing crimes allegedly committed by only one side?

In Clinton’s recent address, he reminded Northern Ireland and the international community that the process to securing peace is not solely comprised of various static agreements and moments, but instead is an ever-evolving conversation that each generation must continue to have and adapt throughout history. All this turmoil now is a very clear example that that evolving conversation is continuing, and how we conduct it matters.

We should not be helping to fan the flames of animosity rooted in the past of Northern Ireland. Instead, we must uphold the values and constitutional rights upon which our country stands.

Thomas P. O’Neill III served on the Boston College Board of Trustees from 1992 to 2010 and currently acts as a trustee associate.

Sen. Menendez asks Secretary of State for help in release of IRA interviews

Sen. Menendez asks Secretary of State for help in release of IRA interviews
By Jordy Yager
The Hill
07/11/13

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) has asked Secretary of State John Kerry to intervene as the United States considers giving British authorities access to a series of interviews with former Irish Republican Army (IRA) soldiers.

The release of the interviews, which were conducted in confidence by Boston College researchers, could “damage inter-communal reconciliation and might run counter to our national interests,” Menendez wrote in a letter to Kerry.

A federal appeals court last month shot down a majority of the oral interviews that the U.S. will be allowed to give British officials, narrowing the scope from 85 to 11 interviews.

But Menendez, who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations panel, said he fears that British authorities could use the contents of those 11 interviews to take retroactive criminal action against the IRA interviewees.

“I remain 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,” wrote Menendez.

Menendez asked Kerry to pressure the Justice Department, which has the final say on how many of the interviews to release, to ask the British government for an assurance that the interview contents will not be used or released as part of any civil proceedings.

“Our country made a significant diplomatic investment in resolving ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland,” Menendez wrote in the letter, which was posted online by the BC SubpoenaNews group.

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

The DOJ in 2011 subpoenaed interviews conducted by researchers hired by Boston College as part of its “Belfast Project.”

The project was designed to conduct and archive oral interviews with people who were directly affected by The Troubles, a time period that spans from the late 1960s though the late 1990s during which violent conflict erupted between Irish nationalists and pro-British loyalists in Northern Ireland. Militant Irish nationalists, including the IRA, aimed to erase the border in Ireland, making the territory of Northern Ireland part of an all-Ireland state. They were unsuccessful in that quest, and their political representatives instead ultimately accepted a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.

Those interviewed by Boston College-hired researchers were promised that their remarks would not be released to the public until they had died, for fear that they would face prosecution charges.

The DOJ’s subpoena for the interviews came after it received a request for them from the British government under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), which allows for cooperation between two or more foreign governments during criminal investigations that have transnational implications.

Boston saga proves law trumps academic works

Boston saga proves law trumps academic works
The PSNI’s seizure of the Dolours Price interview tapes represents the triumph of international treaties over pork barrel politics
Jim Dee
Belfast Telegraph
10 JULY 2013

When PSNI officers flew to Boston to take possession of Boston College’s long-sought Dolours Price interviews, they not only laid down a key marker regarding unsolved Troubles killings; they also highlighted how much Washington’s cherished peace process role has changed.

On the face of it, Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland as a whole remains very much on Washington’s radar. Barack Obama’s recent visit – making him the third sitting US president in a row to drop in on the province – underscored that.

And Washington’s bureaucracy – of a size and scope that is, arguably, unparalleled on the planet – has the staff and the capacity to juggle many balls at once, including any Irish peace process hiccups that may occur.

Past presidential appointments of special envoys, like George Mitchell, Jim Lyons, Richard Haass, Mitchel Reiss and Declan Kelly, proved that Washington is willing to throw its weight behind the peace process when needed.

And maintaining the attentions of members of Congress, such as Richard Neal of Massachusetts or New York’s Joe Crowley, still matters when Stormont ministers drop by the US capital seeking a hand in attracting inward investment.

Turn on National Public Radio’s flagship nightly business programme, Marketplace, and you’ll regularly hear a plug for Northern Ireland as a prime place to invest.

But the announcement in April that the Supreme Court had turned down a request to hear an appeal by Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre against the surrendering of the Price interviews underscored another – perhaps more important – reality.

The Supreme Court, like the US Justice Department and the State Department, are first and foremost legal animals.

And, in their eyes, clearly the obligations of the US-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (US-UK MLAT), the vehicle the PSNI used to pursue the Price tapes, trumped any considerations, however noble and worthwhile, regarding academic freedom and the value of oral histories. As for Boston College’s Belfast Project oral history scheme, the PSNI has now succeeded in prying it open and its secrets may be sought again, now that a precedent has been set.

It is true that the June appeals court ruling in Boston College’s own attempt to block broader access to the archive did reduce the number of interviews to be surrendered.

The court ordered only McConville-related material must be handed over. The US-UK MLAT has proven a formidable tool, indeed. There is no indication that the PSNI will request further material from the Boston College archive relating to specifics unsolved cases.

But the Price interviews saga has very clearly been a victory for the PSNI. And it wouldn’t take much of an imagination stretch to envision future subpoenas being served to the college as part of PSNI probes into other unsolved killings.

Meanwhile, hopes that Secretary of State John Kerry might ride to the rescue have all but faded.

While a Massachusetts senator, he wrote to his State Department predecessor, Hillary Clinton, urging her to use here powers of persuasion to get Britain to drop its quest for the Price interviews.

But now that he’s at State’s helm, Kerry – a Boston College alumnus, like most US secretaries of state – has found that he has a pretty full slate of pressing crises that make issues like the Boston College tape saga pale in comparison.

The fallout from the Edward Snowden scandal, escalating violence in Egypt and Syria and Kerry’s own efforts to revive Middle East peace talks will, no doubt, keep him amply occupied in the weeks and months ahead.

However, all is not lost. Politics is the art of navigating flux and motion. And with speculation rife that Ireland-smitten Hillary Clinton may mount another run for the White House in 2016, Northern Ireland’s star at the highest level of US politics may yet again rise.