Federal judge orders Boston College to release more Irish Republican Army recordings

Federal judge orders Boston College to release more Irish Republican Army recordings
By Conor Berry, The Republican
Published: Monday, January 23, 2012, 10:00 AM

Interviews conducted with former Irish Republican Army members for a Boston College oral history project could prove damning for Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Fein, Northern Ireland’s second-largest political party.

BOSTON – Boston College says it will consider its legal options following a federal order to hand over more recorded interviews with former members of the Irish Republican Army, the mostly Catholic guerrilla group that waged war on British targets in England and Ireland for more than a quarter century.

Judge William Young, in a five-page ruling Friday, ordered Boston College to turn over transcripts and recordings to U.S. prosecutors, who had subpoenaed the material on behalf of British investigators probing the 1972 killing of Jean McConville.

Allegations have emerged that Gerry Adams, an internationally known figure in the Irish peace process, commanded the IRA unit responsible for ordering McConville’s execution and secret burial.

The controversial material is part of an oral history project conducted by Boston College, and its release could prove damning for Adams, who in recent years has distanced himself from the IRA.

Despite being incarcerated for Irish nationalist causes, Adams, the president of Sinn Féin (Irish for “Ourselves Alone”), the second-largest political party in Northern Ireland, has repeatedly denied ever being a member of the proscribed organization.

Critics of Young’s ruling believe relinquishing the archived material could implicate and harm former IRA members, some of whom are now elected officials in Northern Ireland. Boston College has expressed disappointment with the judge’s ruling.

“We are disappointed with (Young’s) ruling in light of the effect it will have on the enterprise of oral history,” Jack Dunn, a spokesman for the college, said in an email Sunday to the Boston Globe. “We will take the time allotted us to review our legal options, which include the right to appeal this decision.”

Two of the 26 people interviewed as part of the history project are believed to implicate Adams in the killing of McConville, a Catholic widow, mother of 10 and suspected informant. She was abducted from her home and shot in the back of the head, according to the Times of London.

Those opposed to the court order include a former IRA member and an Irish journalist, both of whom say turning over the material could trigger attacks against IRA veterans and undermine Northern Ireland’s peace.

Boston College had promised interview subjects anonymity until they died. Friday’s ruling follows previous court orders to turn over other materials from the oral history project.

Material from the Associated Press, Boston Globe, Huffington Post, New York Times and Times of London was used in this report.