Boston College misses deadline to hand over IRA tapes to judge

Boston College misses deadline to hand over IRA tapes to judge
By Jim Dee
Belfast Telegraph
Saturday, 31 December 2011

Despite a federal judge having set yesterday as a deadline for Boston College to surrender to US federal prosecutors interviews in which ex-IRA member Dolours Price allegedly implicates Gerry Adams in Jean McConville’s murder, there was no sign last night that the college had complied.

However, a Boston College spokesman told the Belfast Telegraph that any delay in following Judge William Young’s directive wasn’t calculated foot-dragging by it.

The temporary snag, he said, stemmed from the fact that the college campus is closed for the Christmas holidays, and the library housing material from the Belfast oral history project may not be accessible until next week. But the spokesman reiterated that the college fully intends to comply with Judge’s Young’s order.

The Belfast Project contains dozens of interviews with former republican and loyalist paramilitaries. Interviewees were assured by college interviewers that their detailed accounts of past paramilitary activities wouldn’t be published while they were still alive.

The project was headed by Irish journalist Ed Moloney, and interviews with former IRA members were conducted by former IRA member Anthony McIntyre.

On Thursday lawyers acting on behalf of Moloney and McIntyre, filed an appeal in a US district court against Judge Young’s order. McIntyre and Moloney claim the ruling is a violation of academic freedom and it also could damage American interests by undermining the peace process that Washington has helped to champion since the mid-1990s. Last spring, the US Justice Department subpoenaed the tapes on behalf of the British Government. The main target of the subpoena has been the Dolours Price interviews, and ones in which she discusses the 1972 slaying of mother-of-10 Jean McConville.

During his interviews with the Belfast Project, now deceased former IRA man Brendan Hughes – a former close associate of Gerry Adams – claimed that Adams ordered McConville’s killing because she was allegedly spying on the IRA for the British Army.

Her family has always denied the allegation.

In an earlier ruling issued on December 16, Judge Young ordered Boston College to deliver to him by December 21 all its interviews with former IRA members that had any material relating to Jean McConville’s murder.

However, contrary to earlier Press reports that indicated Boston College had complied with that request, a source with detailed knowledge of the Belfast Project has told the Belfast Telegraph the college hasn’t yet handed over the additional IRA interviews.

That is because the Belfast Project’s staff want to ensure any material that could eventually make its way to British authorities doesn’t compromise the identities of the ex-IRA members interviewed, or contain details pertaining to any events other than Jean McConville’s slaying.

Although the PSNI was not named in court proceedings, it’s widely believed that the PSNI will ultimately take possession of any and all archived material that Boston College surrenders.