Minister’s US Handover of Peace Process Files Criticised

Minister’s US handover of peace process files criticised
Boston College gets arms papers
Valerie Robinson, Southern Correspondent
Irish News

THE Republic’s justice minister has come under fire for agreeing to the handover of “highly sensitive” peace process documents to a US college.

Boston College has been chosen as a repository for an archive chronicling the north’s decommissioning process after the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The decision to donate the documents from the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning was approved by the south’s justice minister Alan Shatter as well as Secretary of State Owen Paterson and NIO director-general Hilary Jackson.

Professor of history Thomas Hachey, executive director of the Boston College Center for Irish Programs, said the contents would reveal “the subtle nuances in the recorded deliberations that reflect the personal dispositions, reasoning and strategic manoeuvres of the various participants during the negotiations”.

However. Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin last night called for Mr Shatter to clarify why he agreed to donate the documents to an archival institution outside Ireland. He sought information on any measures taken by the minister “to protect the integrity and security of the decommissioning archive”.

The former foreign affairs minister expressed concern over continuing legal proceedings in the US involving the college’s archives.

A court hearing on whether tapes of interviews with former paramilitaries should be handed over by US authorities to the PSNI is scheduled to take place on January 24.

The college has already handed the tapes and other material to US prosecutors, as ordered by a federal judge earlier this month.

Mr Martin said: “Boston College is an excellent institution with an excellent track record of interest in and support for Irish affairs.

“However, the fact that there is a question mark over the ability of Boston College to protect sensitive political papers in their archives from premature release is an issue of real concern.”