Boston College: Oral history project that sparked cross words

Boston College: Oral history project that sparked cross words
By Jim Dee
Belfast Telegraph
Saturday, 31 December 2011

Initiated in 2001 as a collaborative process between Belfast-based researchers and Boston College Irish studies experts, Boston College’s Belfast Project oral history endeavour raised hackles from the outset.

Belfast-based author Danny Morrison was among the most vocal early critics.

The former Sinn Fein publicity officer accused the project’s overseer, Boston College historian Thomas Hachey, of running a politically-biased project because its two main co-ordinators – journalist Ed Moloney and former IRA member Anthony McIntyre – were critics of Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein’s peace process strategy.

Both reject claims that they pursued an anti-Adams agenda.

The only interviews yet to see the light of day were published in the Moloney-edited book Voices From The Grave (2010), in which former UVF prisoner David Ervine and former IRA man Brendan Hughes, both deceased, were interviewed extensively.

Those taped interviews included a claim by Hughes that Adams ordered the 1972 killing of mother-of-10 Jean McConville – a claim Adams has repeatedly denied.

The current effort to obtain the Belfast Project’s interviews with Dolours Price began when a Belfast newspaper published an interview with her last February in which she claimed that Adams had been her IRA commanding officer, and that he’d ordered Mrs McConville killed and secretly buried. In May the US Justice Department served Boston College a subpoena on behalf of the British Government demanding the surrender of all interview material relating to McConville. However, the former republican and loyalist paramilitaries who took part in the Belfast project were assured their interviews wouldn’t be published until after they died.

Two weeks ago a US judge rejected an effort by Moloney and McIntyre to have the case dismissed.

On Tuesday, the college was ordered to surrender its interviews with Dolours Price by yesterday. It indicated that it would.