A Fight For the Record Books

A Fight For the Record Books
University Defends Sensitive Tapes on Northern Ireland
By Daniel Tonkovich, Heights Editor
The Heights – The Independent Student Newspaper of Boston College

Published: Thursday, September 8, 2011
Updated: Thursday, September 8, 2011 04:09

An international showdown involving British police, the U.S. Justice Department, and former IRA members has Boston College placed on the frontline.

The University is currently engaged in efforts to quash a federal subpoena for access to confidential interviews regarding a period known as “the Troubles” in Northern Ireland that lasted from 1969-1998.

In May, the U.S. Department of Justice, acting on behalf of the Police Services of Northern Ireland, issued subpoenas ordering BC to release interviews of Brendan Hughes and Delours Price, two former Northern Irish republican militants, stored in its archives.

The interviews, housed in the John J. Burns Library, are part of the Belfast Project, an oral history project conducted in the late 1990s by Irish journalist Ed Moloney. The collection contains approximately 30 to 50 oral histories from both republicans and those loyal to the British Crown. Many of those interviewed for the project engaged in activities in the hope of victory for their desired role of Britain in the governance of Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

Directed by Moloney, Anthony McIntyre, a former Irish Republican Army member, interviewed Republicans, and Wilson McArthur, a former unionist militant, documented the experiences of loyalists. Those interviewed were guaranteed the record would not become public until their deaths.

The agreements of safeguarding the tales of participants in violent acts during the Troubles until their death have caused the current legal feud.

Agreements granting confidentiality to subjects discussing sensitive topics, such as criminal activity, are not uncommon in oral history research. The strength of agreements against government subpoenas, however, is vague, which has led to the current battle the University is facing to uphold the integrity of the project.

The requested accounts are part of an investigation into murders and kidnappings conducted as part of the struggle over governance in Northern Ireland. Law enforcement officials in the United Kingdom seek the contents of the project in hopes of gathering information related to the 1972 abduction and murder of Jean McConville.

McConville was a mother of 10, residing in Belfast at the time and suspected of being an informer for British loyalists. The IRA has admitted its involvement in the murder of McConville, whose remains were discovered in Ireland in 2003, but no individuals have ever been charged with the murder.

Hughes’ interviews were handed over, as the promise of confidentiality expired upon his death, in 2008 and most of his testimony has already appeared in Moloney’s Voices from the Grave. Price remains alive, and BC lawyers stated in June to The Heights on her behalf that she would be “deeply traumatized” if her interviews went public. However, in late August, a second round of subpoenas for all of the interviews of IRA members regarding the McConville case from the Belfast Project were issued by an unidentified party in the UK through the U.S. Attorney’s office. The University responded with an additional motion to quash the broadened request for access to the archives.

Hughes and Price made previous assertions that Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, a political party in Northern Ireland associated with the Provisional IRA, ordered McConville’s murder. Adams has denied the allegations.

Moloney and McIntyre have dismissed the subpoena as without merit and claimed it to be politically motivated against Adams.

“The subpoenas that have been served are based on an unproven assertion: that an interview given to the college by a former Irish Republican Army activist, Dolours Price, could shed light on a 40-year-old murder and should be surrendered,” Moloney and McIntyre said in a joint opinion published in The Boston Globe.

“The truth, however, is that the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), on whose behalf U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz is acting, does not know what Dolours Price told Boston College’s interviewers. Neither does Ortiz. They do not know because the legal basis for the subpoenas is deeply flawed, the result of either rank incompetence or sleight of hand,” the duo wrote.

“The authorities have justified the action by claiming that an interview with Price published in a Belfast newspaper in February 2010 about the murder was derived from her Boston College interview, when in fact it was based on a separate taped interview given directly to the newspaper. Price’s interviews have never been released by BC and never would be – because a guarantee of confidentiality was given to every interviewee. What is happening is essentially an unwarranted fishing expedition into the college archives.”

BC maintains that relinquishing the interviews prior to the death of the interviewees as promised jeopardizes the safety of the participants in the Belfast Project, the peace process in Northern Ireland, and academic freedom.

“The University’s ongoing position has been that the premature release of the tapes could threaten the safety of the participants, the enterprise of oral history, and the ongoing peace and reconciliation process in Northern Ireland,” said Jack Dunn, University Spokesman.

Prosecutors maintain that BC had no authority to grant confidentiality and that justice for a crime supersedes academic privilege.

Moloney and McIntyre have also filed their own suit seeking to quash the subpoena. Moloney and McIntyre argue that prosecution for politically motivated crimes was excluded under the 1998 Belfast Agreement.

“This is to supplement, not conflict with, BC’s action, and we are doing it because it is a much more political approach,” Moloney said in a recent interview with The Boston Globe.

Judge Joesph Tauro is expected to rule in the coming months as to whether he will make a judgment based on the motions filed by BC or hold a hearing in the U.S. District Court in Boston.

News Media

Key articles that give the reader the most comprehensive overview of the issue are collected here.
Articles are in chronological order, with the latest news at the end of the list.

Secret Archive of Ulster Troubles Faces Subpoena
Jim Dwyer, New York Times

Boston College urged to remain silent
Gerry Moriarty, Irish Times

May 25, 2011: Boston College’s IRA archives get subpoenaed (Video)
Emily Rooney interviews Jack Dunn and Thomas Hachey of Boston College, along with Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe, for WGBH’s Greater Boston program

This Case Merits Close Inspection
Catherine Shannon, Boston Irish Reporter

Boston College seeks to quash British subpoenas seeking IRA oral histories
Kevin Cullen, Boston Globe

The Whole Story Behind the Boston College Subpoenas
Chris Bray, Chronicle of Higher Education

Oral History, Unprotected
Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Education

Boston College probe a threat to oral history research
Chris Bray, Irish Echo

Troubling Request
Kevin Cullen, Boston Globe

Fishing for Troubles in BC’s Archives
Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, Boston Globe

US prosecutors subpoena college for IRA interviews
Kevin Cullen, Irish Times

Boston College tapes request ‘politically motivated’
Jennifer O’Leary, BBC News

Journalists seek to intervene in IRA oral history case
Kevin Cullen, Boston Globe

Taking Aim at the DOJ
Chris Bray, Cliopatria

Fighting for Confidentiality
Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed

Justice Department Does the Dirty Work
Sandy Boyer, Socialist Worker

A Chilling Effect on Oral History in this Country
Interview with Ed Moloney, The Wild Geese

Sec. Clinton asked to intervene on subpoena for oral histories of IRA members
Daniel Strauss, The Hill

Irish Radio Network, USA: Audio interview with Advocacy Groups Fighting Subpoena
Irish Radio Network

Irish Radio Network, USA: Audio interview with Belfast Project Director Ed Moloney
Irish Radio Network

Why is President Obama trying to damage the Irish peace process?
Niall O’Dowd, IrishCentral.com

Holder In Hot Water With Irish American Organizations
AOH & IAUC

The Troubling Secret History of the Troubles
Charles P. Pierce, Esquire

Boston College: Time for Resignations
Chris Bray

Audio: WBUR Radio Boston interview Ed Moloney and Jack Dunn
WBUR Radio Boston

Transcript: RTE Radio One ‘This Week’ – Fran McNulty Interviews Anthony McIntyre
RTE Radio One – Fran McNulty, This Week

Wall Street Journal: IRA History Project Snags U.S. School
Devlin Barrett, Wall Street Journal

Boston College Saga Shows How the State Has Failed
Chris Bray, Irish Times

Fighting for Confidentiality

Fighting for Confidentiality
Scott Jaschik
Inside Higher Ed
September 6, 2011

The legal fight over access to oral history records at Boston College — a battle that some historians worry could limit their ability to conduct interviews on sensitive topics — is escalating.

The British government, which has been seeking access to some of the records in an oral history collection about the violence in Northern Ireland, has expanded its requests, prompting a new bid by the college to quash that move. Further, the researchers who conducted the interviews are now seeking to enter the case, taking a more aggressive approach to the proceedings than the college has to date, and more directly attacking how the U.S. Justice Department has backed the British government’s requests.

The case has been in federal court for months, with Britain citing U.S. treaty obligations to aid legitimate law enforcement efforts by an American ally. Boston College, and many historians, say that Britain is overreaching, and that the United States can legitimately weigh the impact of releasing the documents on academic freedom in considering whether to comply with the British request. To date, the U.S. Justice Department has rejected the idea that academic freedom is a relevant issue, and has pushed a federal court to force Boston College to release the documents.

People who conduct oral history interviews do not have the ability to offer legally protected pledges of confidentiality that, for example, a physician may offer a patient, or a lawyer a client. But many historians – especially those gathering material on topics such as the violence in Northern Ireland — routinely do make pledges of confidentiality, and report that interview subjects insist on such promises. Typically these pledges expire after an agreed number of years, or after the deaths of interview subjects or those discussed in the interviews — so these documents eventually become public in full.

The latest subpoena submitted on behalf of the British government is notably broader than the first one. The initial request asked for documents related to the interviews of two individuals, one of whom died after he gave the oral history interview (ending the confidentiality pledge) and another whose oral history interview was public knowledge already. The new request asks for all records that relate to a single incident – “the abduction and death of Mrs. Jean McConville.”

From Boston College’s perspective, it argues in a new brief, this request raises issues that hinder any academic institution’s ability to house confidential materials. The college, the new brief asserts, doesn’t even know how many records it has that might relate in any way to that death. So the request would force the college to effectively review all its collections for the purpose of violating the confidentiality rights of an unknown number of people. And the college notes not only that that might violate the confidentiality of an unknown number of people, but that such actions could “potentially prejudice the safety” of these individuals.

With some individual interviews having resulted in hundreds of pages of transcripts, this process would impose “a substantial burden” on the college, its new brief says.

The latest subpoena has also prompted two new individuals to enter the case — this time speaking not as the institutional home for an oral history collection, but as the oral history experts who gathered the information for the Belfast Project, the name of the disputed research effort.

Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, the researchers, while technically backing Boston College, take a much more combative position in the case. They argue that the treaty under which British authorities are seeking the documents was premised on British pledges not to use the treaty for seeking cooperation on “politically related offenses” that were resolved by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, a key accord in bringing peace to Northern Ireland. The materials in the Belfast Project predate that agreement.

Before trying to enforce the British request, this brief argues, the U.S. government had an obligation to consider these pledges, and to resist violating them. The U.S. has “failed” to carry out its responsibilities, the brief from Moloney and McIntyre argues, and should be forced to do so – or to reject the British request.

Chris Bray, a historian who has been blogging about the case at Cliopatria (in favor of resisting the British request), wrote last week that the new brief in some ways changes the equation. While Bray has applauded Boston College for fighting the British request, he characterized its efforts as “politely” making their case. The college’s briefs represent “a careful and modest courtroom effort without a corresponding political or public relations campaign,” he wrote.

In contrast, Moloney and MacIntryre are raising “the political nature of the underlying investigation and directly accusing the DOJ of serious professional failures,” Bray wrote, suggesting that such an approach may be needed to protect the oral history records in question.

A spokesman for Boston College told The Boston Globe about the new brief: “We obviously share the same goal in the outcome of this matter, but these filings, which we are just now reviewing, may not necessarily reflect the views of Boston College.”

— Scott Jaschik

History Remembered by the People Who Were There

Mary E. Daly’s review from the Irish Times of Fearghal McGarry’s book, Rebels: Voices from the Easter Rising, based on the oral histories gathered by the Bureau of Military History, is of interest to those following the Boston College Oral History subpoena case. Her review explains the background and importance of the these archives, especially in regards how viewpoints that are not from ‘official sources’ are vital to establishing a fuller understanding of history, even if it slays some scared cows in the process. It was these records that Boston College’s Belfast Project modelled itself after.

From the Affidavit of Ed Moloney:

10. When Paul Bew, who has since been elevated to the British House of Lords and is known now as Lord Bew, was at Boston College around 1999-2000, the College was interested in participating in a project that would mark this dramatic change in Northern Ireland by, for instance, starting a collection rooted in the politics of the conflict.
11. As I understand it Paul agreed to explore this idea when he returned to Ireland and raised the subject with me. One idea we discussed was an oral history archive based on the stories of those who had been involved in the violence. The conflict in Northern Ireland is not the first in Ireland’s troubled history. Between 1919 and 1921 the IRA fought a war against the British which resulted in independence for the bulk of the island but left Northern Ireland still under British jurisdiction. In the late 1930’s and 1940’s the Irish government, through the Bureau of Military History, began recording, in writing, the recollections of IRA veterans, the idea being to collect the history of that period from the viewpoint of those who had been most intimately involved in the conflict. The key aspect of this project was that the Irish government was able to wait some 20 years before beginning to collect these stories. The political settlement with Britain in 1921 was followed by a terrible civil war in which the IRA split into opposing factions, for and against the deal. Waiting a couple of decades enabled passions to cool while those to be interviewed were still young and vigorous, their memories therefore likely to be intact and they were no longer subject to the discipline and rules of the IRA of those days.
12. The conflict, or Troubles, in Northern Ireland by sharp contrast lasted between 30 and 40 years, depending on how it is measured. At a minimum it was thirty years long. To repeat the Irish government’s modus operandi and wait twenty or so years before interviewing participants, so as to put distance between the events and the interviews, would mean that many would be either dead or too old to take part in such a project and it would be rendered worthless. Paul and I discussed all these issues, agreed that an oral history project would be a good idea but that there were difficulties, such as guaranteeing the safety of interviewees, but that we should discuss the project more with Boston College, primarily Boston College Professor Thomas Hachey and Robert O’Neill, Librarian at the Burns Library at Boston College. As a result of these discussions, Boston College agreed to initiate the Belfast Project.

Easter 1916, remembered by the people who were there
Sat, Sep 17, 2011
Irish Times

HISTORY: MARY E DALY reviews Rebels: Voices from the Easter Rising, By Fearghal McGarry, Penguin, Ireland, 366pp.

THE 1916 RISING is one of the best- documented rebellions of the 20th century. In 1947 the Irish government set up the Bureau of Military History to collect statements from participants in the Rising and the War of Independence. The idea for this oral history originated with Dudley Edwards, professor of modern Irish history at University College Dublin, and the proposal was strongly supported by his fellow historians, who were keen to ensure that the history of modern Ireland was not written wholly from official sources.

Although the bureau was controlled by civil servants, not historians, and the records were not released until 2003, when the last witness had died, the 1,773 statements now available to researchers in the National Archives of Ireland and the Military Archives provide informative and often moving accounts of the Rising and subsequent events. They also have the potential to produce some significant re-evaluation or, dare I say, revision of the history of the Rising.

The bureau records are not comprehensive: there are very few statements from Ulster or southern unionists, supporters of the Irish Parliamentary Party, British soldiers or government officials. Éamon de Valera, Richard Mulcahy and Seán Lemass are among the conspicuous absences, as are those who died before the bureau got down to work. Many uncompromising republicans declined to be interviewed, though some gave statements to Ernie O’Malley, which are now held by University College Dublin.

Charles Townshend’s Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion (2005) and Fearghal McGarry’s The Rising: Ireland, Easter 1916 (2010), have already mined this material in recent years. Readers of McGarry will find some familiar themes and personalities in his new book. On this occasion, however, the story is told through a collage of witness statements, with readers guided through the material by short sections of commentary from McGarry. He describes the book as an effort “to distil the vast testimony of the statements into a coherent, readable narrative”.

There are chapters on topics such as the reasons why men and women got involved in the Rising or the Irish Volunteers, the impact of the onset of the Great War, in 1914, and the story of Easter week in Dublin and farther afield. The section dealing with the battle of Ashbourne – an encounter that anticipated the guerrilla war of 1919-21 and resulted in the deaths of eight Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) men, two Volunteers and one civilian – is one of the highlights of the book. Eyewitness accounts from both rebels and members of the RIC describe the fighting, the deaths and the serious injuries. The chapter closes with the statement of Constable Bratton of the RIC: “Subsequent to the battle of Ashbourne I was brought to Buckingham Palace and decorated by the king for my actions. I resented this, but I had no alternative.”

The most moving material concerns the surrender and the aftermath, including imprisonment and the identification and interrogation of key figures in the Rising. Several members of Cumann na mBan recalled waking to the sound of shots, and one noticed that, at Mass in Kilmainham, four men kneeling in the front seat were the only people to receive Communion, “which we thought significant”. All were soon to be executed. There are harrowing accounts by Thomas Mallin, brother of Michael Mallin, who accompanied his sister-in-law to visit her husband on the eve of his execution, and by Áine Ceannt, who described waiting for confirmation that her husband had been executed.

Reading these statements, it is possible to see why their release was delayed. As McGarry emphasises, they present a story of confusion, not of a carefully planned rising, and thus have the capacity to damage the romantic and glorious images of Irish republicanism that were dominant in the 1940s and beyond. The Belfast Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) leader Denis McCullough described being sworn into the IRB in Donnelly’s public house “by a large obese man . . . evidently a good and steady customer of Donnelly’s. I was disappointed and shocked by the whole surrounds of this, to me, very important event and by the type of men I found controlling the organisation; they were mostly effete and many of them addicted to drink.”

The bureau provided a forum for the “voices of the losers”, those who disagreed with the decision to have a rising or how it was planned. It was a chance for men such as Bulmer Hobson, the IRB leader who was kidnapped to prevent him preventing the Rising, to get their version of events on record. Hobson’s testimony is extremely revealing about the divisions in the ranks and is less than complimentary about Pearse, “a sentimental egotist full of curious Old Testament theories about being the scapegoat for the people”.

The confusion surrounding Easter week in Ulster, and the resentment of the Volunteers and IRB there at the unrealistic orders and counterorders emanating from Dublin, provides further evidence of division within the ranks. Ulster is interesting also because it was the only area where priests appear to have played a significant role in the Volunteers. According to Denis McCullough, some of the priests believed that the planned rising was “engineered and inspired by Connolly . . . not a Volunteer but a socialist rising”.

By 2016 the 36,000 pages of evidence in the Bureau of Military History will be supplemented by witness accounts in the military pension files (applications for pensions submitted by members of the Volunteers, Cumann na mBan and others who took part in the Rising, the War of Independence or the Civil War). Readers can expect many more accounts of these years written from the perspective of participants.


Prof Mary E Daly is a member of the school of history and archives at University College Dublin. Gladstone: Ireland and Beyond , which she edited with K Theodore Hoppen, was published earlier this year by Four Courts Press

Taking Aim at the DOJ

Boston College (Cont.): Taking Aim at the DOJ
Cliopatria – History News Network
Chris Bray

In a brief filed with the federal district court in Boston on August 31 (see below), a new party joined the legal conflict between Boston College and the Department of Justice. The new player sharply changed the tone and substance of the exchange, noting the political nature of the underlying investigation and directly accusing the DOJ of serious professional failures. Two and half months ago, in back-to-back posts at Cliopatria, I wrote that the DOJ was engaged in misfeasance, but that they were rounding the corner toward malfeasance. Now someone has placed a version of that argument before the court, and the results suggest the presence of an internal conflict at BC.

I’ll skip most of the background — see the two links above for that — but at least some of the recent background is necessary to make sense of the new developments. Since the DOJ (twice) subpoenaed oral history materials archived at BC that relate to the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the university’s responses have been distinctly limited and polite, arguing in broad terms for academic freedom but not attacking the purpose of the DOJ’s request. But woven in with their restrained and businesslike tone, BC’s responses have also had an interesting subtext. As I discussed here last week, a recent brief from BC’s lawyer suggested that it would be difficult for the university to respond to subpoenas broadly demanding all oral history materials in their Belfast Project collection that provide information on the murder of Jean McConville, becausethey would have to go through all the interviews and figure out what’s in them, and they would have no idea where to even begin.

Remember that the Belfast Project wasn’t directly undertaken by BC faculty. Instead, the interviews in the project were overseen by a longtime journalist, Ed Moloney, and conducted by former members of loyalist and republican paramilitaries in Northern Ireland; interviews with Provisional IRA members were conducted by Anthony McIntyre, a former PIRA member who earned a PhD in history at Queens University Belfast.

So now police in Northern Ireland are seeking oral history material compiled for a project sponsored by an American university but carried out by outsiders, and the American university is signaling that oh yeah, we don’t actually know what any of that stuff says. While BC wages a careful and modest courtroom effort without a corresponding political or public relations campaign, the university is also coughing and winking at the court and the DOJ to distance itself from — well, basically from itself. Boston College is not dug in for war to the knife; they are politely suggesting that the subpoenas be quashed, and claiming no knowledge of the material at stake.

Now. Suddenly, someone has walked into the courtroom without having been summoned there: Moloney and McIntyre, the journalist who oversaw the project and the outside historian who conducted the IRA interviews. Asking leave to intervene in a case that centers on their work product but doesn’t formally involve them, Moloney and McIntyre have made an infinitely more aggressive and direct set of arguments than anything BC has managed.

First, the lawyer for the Belfast Project participants argues that the subpoenas in question are meant to serve an inherently political investigation, opening political matters that have had a political settlement. The subpoenas rip open a closed matter, the brief argues, since “the subject matter of the U.K. government’s request involves a politically-related offense committed prior to the Good Friday Agreement.”

This claim is the foundation for an insistence that the Belfast Project interviewers had good cause to promise confidentiality to their subjects: “In the execution of this duty, the Intervenors were, and are, entitled to rely on solemn assurances from the Government of the United Kingdom to the United States that politically-related offenses preceding the U.S.-brokered Belfast Agreement of April 10, 1998 (the “Good Friday Agreement”) would not be reopened.”

Finally, the brief notes, the U.S. Senate approved a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom on precisely the explicit understanding that the treaty was “not intended to reopen issues addressed in the Belfast agreement.”

Now it gets really good, as the brief turns from underlying matters to an analysis of what it all means. Arguing that the DOJ is obligated to evaluate requests made under legal assistance treaties, rather than just acting on them, and to decide before proceeding whether or not a request from a foreign government is legally proper and politically appropriate, the brief filed for Moloney and McIntyre argues that federal prosecutors failed to do their job before they pursued subpoenas for a political investigation undertaken by a foreign government: “The Attorney General failed in these nondiscretionary duties under the US-UK MLAT. Alternatively, if the Attorney General can demonstrate that he engaged in such an Article 18 consultation or Article 3 consideration, his actions in issuing subpoenas in contravention of the clearly expressed sense of Congress was arbitrary, capricious or an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.”

Strong argument, strong language: the attorney general failed in his duties.

So then see this story from yesterday’s Boston Globe, and note what a BC spokesman had to say about the intervention of Moloney and McIntyre: “We obviously share the same goal in the outcome of this matter, but these filings, which we are just now reviewing, may not necessarily reflect the views of Boston College.”

Feel the warmth.

In one other new development, the assistant U.S. attorney principally responsible for the BC subpoenas has informed the court that he is leaving the case and quitting his job. Under the terms of the U.S.-U.K MLAT, federal prosecutor Todd Braunstein was the commissioner responsible for promulgating the subpoenas. Until and unless he is replaced, no one is carrying the ball for the government. Braunstein filed his notice with the court the day after the lawyer for Moloney and McIntyre entered the case. I’d ask him why he’s leaving, but you already know what he’d say. (If you’re wondering what my source is for all of this information, I registered months ago for a Pacer account.)

That’s where things stand: new participants, new and far more aggressive argument, and a distinct chill radiating from the BC campus. Whatever comes next will be interesting.

Dornan Brief

Journalists seek to intervene in IRA oral history case

Journalists seek to intervene in IRA oral history case
KEVIN CULLEN in Boston
Irish Times
Fri, Sep 02, 2011

JOURNALISTS ED Moloney and Anthony McIntyre filed a suit in a US District Court in Boston this week against US attorney general Eric Holder, seeking to intervene in a case already under way between Boston College and US prosecutors.

The two men organised and conducted the oral history interviews of former IRA members that are being sought from the college by US prosecutors. Boston College has already filed motions to quash two sets of subpoenas issued by US prosecutors on behalf of unidentified law enforcement officials somewhere in the United Kingdom. The PSNI is understood to be seeking the information, but the court order authorising the subpoenas remains sealed.

Lawyers for Boston College have said the attempt by prosecutors to seize the interviews with 26 former IRA members who may have information about the 1972 abduction and murder of Jean McConville, a Belfast mother of 10, is an overzealous fishing expedition by law enforcement. They say it could endanger the interviewers and their subjects, the peace process, and the academic freedom to do such research.

Mr Moloney is a journalist and author now living in the Bronx, and Mr McIntyre is a journalist and former IRA member living in Drogheda. In their suit they frame the attempts by the US and UK governments to gain access to the oral history project as the type of politically motivated prosecution of politically motivated crimes that was specifically excluded under the terms of a treaty between the US and UK governments.

Mr Moloney and Mr McIntyre, represented by attorney Eamonn Dornan, argue they “are entitled to rely on solemn assurances from the government of the United Kingdom to the United States that politically related offences preceding the US-brokered Belfast Agreement of April 10th, 1998 would not be reopened”.

The suit asserts that in approving the treaty, the US Senate noted “that the United Kingdom does not intend to seek the extradition of individuals who appear to qualify for early release under the Belfast Agreement”.

Mr Moloney and Mr McIntyre argue that efforts by prosecutors to seize the interviews of Dolours Price, a former IRA member and Old Bailey bomber, “involves a politically related offence committed prior to the Good Friday agreement, and will require the UK government to initiate extradition proceedings of an Irish national from the Republic of Ireland for an offence allegedly committed in the jurisdiction of the Republic of Ireland”.

“The PSNI cannot proceed with a prosecution [in relation to the McConville case] without seeking the extradition of Dolours Price from the Republic of Ireland,” their suit claims.

Mr Moloney acknowledged that his and Mr McIntyre’s legal approach frames the case in more political terms. “It’s easier for us to do so than BC ,” said Mr Moloney.

The college sought to distance itself from the journalists’ position. “We obviously share the same goal in the outcome of this matter, but these filings, which we are just now reviewing, may not necessarily reflect the views of Boston College,” the university said in a statement last night.

Mr Moloney last year published a book, Voices from the Grave, based on interviews given by former IRA member Brendan Hughes and loyalist prisoner turned politician David Ervine.

Boston College has argued the death of Mr Hughes and Mr Ervine released them from the confidentiality they promised. US prosecutors say the college did not have the authority to promise interview subjects their words would not be made public until after their deaths.

Judge Joseph Tauro is expected to schedule a hearing soon.

PSNI move for IRA tapes should be ruled illegal: researchers

PSNI move for IRA tapes should be ruled illegal: researchers
Belfast Telegraph
Friday, 2 September 2011

Efforts by the PSNI to gain access to the taped testimonies of former IRA members have taken a dramatic new twist after two researchers moved that the efforts be ruled illegal.

They say that releasing the material would breach extradition agreements.

The tapes are in Boston College’s Belfast project, which also holds records of IRA decommissioning and material deposited by the Government.

The ex-paramilitary activists spoke in the belief that it would not be published while they lived.

The archive was set up by the journalist Ed Moloney and all the IRA interviews were carried out by Dr Anthony McIntyre, himself a convicted IRA killer.

So far the battle has been between the PSNI, acting through the US Attorney’s Office, and the college which has pleaded that lives could be in danger and academic research stifled. Now Mr Moloney and Dr McIntyre have applied to be joined to the action.

In papers lodged by Eamon Dornan, a Belfast barrister who now practices in New York, they say that a Mutual Aid Treaty between America and Britain prohibits the extradition of people from America for offences committed in Northern Ireland before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998.

Court papers lodged by Mr Dornan claim that releasing the material would breach “solemn promises made by the UK government to the US Senate” that “it would not reopen issues addressed in the Belfast Agreement, or impede any further efforts to resolve the conflict in Northern Ireland”.

Police interest was aroused when Brendan “the Dark” Hughes, a former Belfast IRA commander, died and his story was published along with that of David Ervine, the loyalist politician who told of his role as a UVF bomb maker.

Mr Hughes, a former friend of Gerry Adams, claimed that the Sinn Fein president has been an IRA leader, though Mr Adams has consistently denied any IRA involvement and still does.

Mr Hughes went on to allege that, in that role, Mr Adams headed a unit which organised the “disappearance” of people suspected of supplying information to the security forces.

In particular, he claimed that Mr Adams had agreed that Jean McConville, a widow who lived in Divis flats, should not only be killed, but secretly buried.

Her body was found buried in a Co Louth beach in 2003, more than 30 years after her death.

Story so far
Boston College holds the taped testimonies of up to 50 former Northern Ireland terrorists who spoke on condition that nothing would be published in their lifetimes. When Brendan “the Dark” Hughes (above), an ex-IRA commander, died, his story was published.

Sinn Fein response to Boston Globe; Letters to the Editor

Concern about peace process – from foes of the process
September 1, 2011
Boston Globe

I READ with disbelief the Aug. 23 op-ed “Fishing in BC’s archives’’ by Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre. I do not dispute that fishing is what the servers of the subpoenas on Boston College are doing or the political motivation behind it.

But for Moloney and McIntyre to express concern that the peace process could be damaged and undermined is breath- taking.

Both have publicly and vehemently opposed the peace process, and have attacked Sinn Fein’s president, Gerry Adams, and others for their role in bringing an end to armed conflict.

McIntyre has written that he left the Republican Movement at the endorsement of the Good Friday Agreement.

The reference to “irredentist elements opposed to the Good Friday Agreement [wanting to] bring down aspects of the peace process they abhor’’ is particularly disingenuous since both these men have been at the forefront of these very elements in their own writings for years.

Rita O’Hare
Dublin
The writer is Sinn Fein’s representative to the United States.

Argument against BC subpoena doesn’t hold up
September 1, 2011
Boston Globe

RE “FISHING in BC’s archives’’ (Op-ed, Aug. 23): Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre have every right to protest on ethical grounds against efforts by the British to subpoena Boston College to hand over part of its archives. These archives – a project that both men administered on behalf of the college – contain potentially incriminating taped evidence by Irish Republican Army volunteers about unresolved killings during the Irish conflict.

But for Moloney and McIntyre to claim that the release of the material “could be immensely destructive to the peace process in Northern Ireland’’ and that the subpoena appears aimed at damaging Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein’s “remarkable electoral comeback in the general election in the Republic of Ireland’’ is rank hypocrisy.

This claim is undermined by Moloney’s having published a book based on the testimony of one of the project participants, the late IRA volunteer Brendan Hughes, the thrust of which was to damage Adams, according to many respected historians, reviewers, and commentators.

In fact, Moloney is contradicting himself, because his mantra was to berate other Irish journalists for putting the peace process before their duty. He accused journalists of not challenging Adams and Sinn Fein over their shortcomings and alleged links with the IRA regardless of what effect their reporting would have on the fledgling power-sharing institutions.

Nor is it believable for either Moloney or McIntyre or some at Boston College to claim that their lives would be in danger from the IRA were these archives to be released. Moloney never balked at that prospect when he published his book, and McIntyre has often goaded Adams and the republican leadership for having sold out.

Danny Morrison
Belfast
The writer is a former member of the IRA.