Brehons Back BC
3 August, 2011
Call it a holding action.
The PSNI’s decision to seek sensitive archive information about the Troubles, held in confidence by Boston College, is risking the force’s hard-won image of neutrality outside of the North, it has been claimed.
Former U.S. Army JAG Corps general, James Cullen, has presented the force with a letter of protest written by him and on behalf of the Brehon Law Society.
The letter details the society’s concerns over the PSNI bid, backed up by the U.S. Justice Department, to lay hands on interview tapes with some of the most high-profile ex-combatants of the conflict, including former IRA leader Brendan Hughes.
Cullen said he had been “frank” during a meeting with Chief Superintendent Alan Todd at PSNI headquarters in Knock. Cullen said that he had outlined the Brehon position as to why the force should refrain from seeking the Boston College archive material by means of a subpoena issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston.
Cullen said that the desire to access the records, which were the basis of the 2008 book by journalist Ed Moloney “Voices From the Grave,” could boost perceptions of “inherent bias” in the PSNI.
Some already believed that the “fishing exercise” with the Boston material was an attempt by police to discover further claims of Gerry Adams’ role in the republican movement, which could be used to damage the Sinn Féin President, now an elected TD for Louth.
The Brehon letter praises the Chief Constable and PSNI reform efforts but adds: “We are sufficiently practical to know elements of the old RUC remain in the PSNI with their own malevolent agendas.”
The letter has also been sent to the head of the Public Prosecution Service, and other influential figures, including British Secretary of State Owen Paterson, and senior jurists on both sides of the Atlantic.
“Americans can be known for their frankness, and I was exactly that with Chief Superintendent Todd about the feelings of the Brehon Society, and Irish America in general, over this issue,” Cullen said.
“Have the PSNI really considered the impact that seeking to access these tapes will have? People are beginning to ask is this a legacy of the old RUC creeping back?
“The subpoena will make those in universities who wish to conduct valuable research into the conflict here, research that can even aid peace and reconciliation, impossible,” he said.
Cullen believes the main reason the U.S. authorities are cooperating with the PSNI – and the subpoena was supported this week in a Boston Globe editorial – is in the belief that the material will be used to combat ongoing dissident republican activity, something he stresses would be “in bad faith” as the Boston College tapes focus on the conflict pre-1998.
“If the police are really keen on investigating the past and getting prosecutions, why not start with the direct attacks on the rule of law by rogue British state forces in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings for instance,” said Cullen.