Jean McConville files: D-day for Boston College

Jean McConville files: D-day for Boston College
By Anne Madden
Belfast Telegraph
Friday, 30 December 2011

An American university has until today to hand over recorded interviews with a former IRA member to assist the investigation into the murder of Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville.

Boston College was ordered by a federal judge to turn over recordings, transcripts and other items related to Dolours Price to federal prosecutors in Boston.

The material which was collected for the Belfast Project, an oral history project about the Troubles, was subpoenaed on behalf of the British Government.

Judge William Young of the federal court in Boston noted in his ruling earlier this week that a treaty between the USA and the UK requires the two nations to share information relevant to ongoing criminal investigations.

Boston College said it is disappointed by Judge Young’s ruling, arguing it “could have a chilling effect because people could be reluctant to participate in oral history projects moving forward”.

The Belfast Project’s organisers, which included author Ed Moloney and former IRA prisoner Anthony McIntyre, had promised their subjects they would keep identities and material confidential until the person had died.

The college is not appealing the decision. Prosecutors had asserted in court filings that the material sought is relevant to a probe into Mrs McConville’s death. She disappeared in 1972. Her body was found in 2003.

The IRA said it killed McConville because she was suspected of being an informer.

Price and another former IRA member, Brendan Hughes, have said that her abduction, execution and burial was ordered by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

According to court documents, Price admitted in news reports in Northern Ireland that she had driven the abducted McConville to the place of her murder.

Mr Adams, who was elected TD for Louth earlier this year, has repeatedly denied the allegations that he ordered the killing.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said it had no comment to make.

“It doesn’t concern Sinn Fein at all,” he said. “It is a matter between Anthony McIntyre, Ed Moloney, the PSNI and Boston College.”

However, DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he welcomed the finding of the court, adding it is up to police alone to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to bring a public prosecution.

Story so far

Police believe the material held by Boston College will assist an ongoing investigation into the 1972 abduction and murder of Belfast woman Jean McConville. The US federal judge who made the decision, William G Young, ruled he will make further orders for the release of information from the oral history project of the Troubles.