RTE News: Belfast Project interviewer fears for his life

Belfast Project interviewer fears for his life
RTE News
Updated: 15:15, Sunday, 8 January 2012

Audio

Boston College had funded the Belfast Project

One of the men who conducted interviews for the Boston College ‘Belfast Project’ archive has said he fears for his safety and that of his family after the college handed over the archive to a US Federal Court at the request of the British authorities.

Anthony McIntyre said he fears “revenge” attacks on his home and he said he also has concerns for the safety of the people he interviewed if the details of what they discussed or their identities enter the public domain.

Boston College gave the archive to a federal judge, which could result in much of the material being handed over to British Authorities.

The archive contains dozens of interviews with republican paramilitaries.

Mr McIntyre told RTÉ’s This Week that the actions of Boston College and the British authorities in seeking the information has increased the level of risk to him, his family and the interviewees.

It is thought British authorities are seeking the material as part of an investigation into the disappearance and murder of Jean McConville.

Mr McIntyre said he and Ed Moloney regret their involvement in the project because of the danger it has placed the interviewees in.

He said that whilst the project was worthwhile, Boston College was not the institution with which to pursue it.

Mr McIntyre said he would not be co-operating with any investigation into what may arise out of the archive being released to British authorities.

He said he would rather go to jail than abdandon his sources who had agreed to be interviewed for the project.

In an affidavit seen by RTÉ News, the head of the Irish Institute at Boston College, Prof Thomas Hachey, said he was told by the US Consul General in Belfast not to travel to Northern Ireland last October.

Prof Hachey was due to attend a Stormont reception but officials said his safety could be at risk “in the present environment”.

Boston College Spokesperson Jack Dunn has told RTÉ that the College fought the court order in so far as it could.

He said it hoped that Federal Judge William Young would only release interviews with republican interviewee Dolours Price and no other material.

He said that the college wished that the project could have been maintained as an archive but a subpoena issued by a federal court meant that was not possible.

Mr Dunn said that the Government, through the federal court, refuted the contention of Anthony McIntyre and Ed Moloney that they would be at risk if the archive was given to British authorities.

The Boston College spokesperson said it tried to protect the archive and had “fought the fight and the fight was lost”.