PSNI legal bid for Boston College IRA tapes ‘not way to truth’

PSNI legal bid for Boston College IRA tapes ‘not way to truth’
BBC News
15 January 2012

A researcher fighting a legal battle with police over interviews with former paramilitaries has said prosecutions are not the way to get at the truth.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is seeking transcripts of interviews given by former IRA member, Dolours Price, to Boston College.

At the heart of the case is the 1972 IRA murder of Jean McConville.

Anthony McIntyre said he was concerned about recovering the truth of what actually happened in the Troubles.

“I feel a moral obligation to the victims that at some point, the truth about what happened in our dark past is brought into the public domain,” he told Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence.

“Prosecutions are not the way to obtain truth. I am concerned the amount of truth recovery brought about in the future will be severely limited… Who now will come forward and reveal anything?

“What we are going to have now is law enforcement agencies which were a serious part of the problems in the past now going to tell people that it is through their mechanisms that we will discover the truth. We all know we are not going to discover the truth of law enforcement agencies’ involvement in this conflict through those mechanisms.”

An appeal against the interviews being handed over to Northern Ireland police will be heard in America on 24 January.

It has been made by journalist and writer Ed Moloney who was the director of the so-called Belfast Project for Boston College and republican researcher Mr McIntyre.

Last year, the PSNI began a legal bid to gain access to the interviews with former republicans and loyalists held by Boston College.

They are being sought by detectives investigating cases of people murdered and secretly buried by the IRA.

US prosecutors wanted to get anything in the Boston College archive relating to the death of Mrs McConville, a Belfast mother of 10, one of the so-called “disappeared”.

Police in Northern Ireland are seeking accounts from former IRA members who accused Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams of running a secret cell within the IRA that carried out the kidnappings and disappearance – something Mr Adams has denied doing or having any knowledge of.

This is the first time that Northern Ireland police have tried to use the Boston College oral history collection to build criminal cases.

The college has already turned over tapes of interviews given by Brendan Hughes, a former IRA member who died in 2008. A subsequent documentary led to calls for the other interviews to be handed over.

Dolours Price was one of 26 former IRA members to give a series of interviews – between 2001 and 2006 – as part of the research study.

Police want to hear her interview relating to the abduction and death of Mrs McConville.

The material has already been handed over to a US court following an earlier ruling.

The people who Mr Maloney and Mr McIntyre interviewed spoke only with the caveat that the material would not be made public until after their deaths.