Times of London: Tapes may link Adams to IRA killing

Tapes may link Adams to IRA killing
Will Pavia
The Times (London)
January 10 2012

Very few people have seen Anthony McIntyre’s oral research project into the history of the IRA.

For the sake of his life, for the safety of his wife and children and for the sake of peace in Northern Ireland, he had hoped that his work would remain unread, unappreciated and under lock and key in America.

Instead, Dr McIntyre, a former IRA prisoner, is watching with dread from his home in Ireland as a US judge considers whether to release the tapes to police investigating one of a series of IRA murders carried out four decades ago at the height of the Troubles.

The content of the tapes, gathered for an oral history project sponsored by Boston College, is thought to be incendiary. Two of the 26 interviewees are believed to implicate Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Féin, in the killing of Jean McConville, a widow and mother of ten wrongly suspected of being an informant. She was abducted from her home and shot in the back of the head.

Sinn Féin and Gerry Adams have denied the allegations said to be contained in the tapes, and Mr Adams has always denied being an IRA member. None of the accusations made by interviewees was independently verified.

Outraged that the university has surrendered the tapes to Judge William Young, Dr McIntyre and Ed Moloney, an Irish journalist who served as the director of the project, have begun their own legal action to stop the tapes from being passed to the police. Yesterday they were waiting to hear whether the US Attorney-General would oppose their efforts to delay the handover of the material. Their attorney, James Cotter III, said he expected the two sides to meet at an expedited hearing in March.

“It’s been extremely stressful,” said Dr McIntyre, speaking from the Irish Republic. He believes the release of the tapes could make him a target for retaliation from former IRA members and from active members of the Real IRA. “I carried out the interviews in circumstances of the greatest secrecy and confidence. The results were sent out of Belfast as quickly as possible. We were concerned at the possibility of them falling into the wrong hands.”

His wife Carrie Twomey, an American, says in an affidavit that “as a result of Anthony being labelled an informer . . . I live in constant fear of some form of IED [improvised bomb] being lobbed into the house or of him being shot in the street.”

In an affidavit submitted to a court in Boston, Mr Moloney said he believed that legal action against former IRA figures could follow if the tapes were given to the police. “In my opinion, criminal charges against some of those who were the architects of the IRA’s move into conventional politics and away from terrorism may follow if the tapes . . . are handed over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland,” he said.

He added: “The damage to them, the cause they lead, and to the peace process in general will be disproportionately greater than any law enforcement benefit which the PSNI could possibly derive from the prosecution of a 40-year-old criminal allegation.”

Mr Moloney and Dr McIntyre had been assured by the university that the interviews would be kept in a secure vault in its John J. Burns Library and released only when the interviewees had died. For its part, the university had assumed that under the Good Friday agreement British authorities would not investigate crimes of the Troubles.

Such interpretations have proved false. Late last year Boston College submitted to an order from Judge Young to hand over the tapes so he could decide whether they should be given to Northern Ireland police.

British authorities had originally requested the tapes of interviews with Dolours Price, a former IRA volunteer who admitted, in an interview with an Irish newspaper, to being a driver during the IRA abduction and murder of Ms McConville. She later said she had no intention of co-operating with police.

Later, a request was made for all the tapes, and Boston College complied.

Some have questioned the timing of the investigation. Dr McIntyre suspects “malice”. Mr Moloney, who is based in New York, told The Times he thought the fresh investigation had come because “police believe the IRA have retreated from the field” .

“I think that sense is misplaced,” he said. “Already we can see the attack lines, Unionists lining up on one side, nationalists and Republicans on the other. That’s before they’ve even heard the tapes. This is madness.”