Judge to BC: Turn over more materials
College to review its legal options
By Travis Andersen
JANUARY 23, 2012
A federal judge has ordered Boston College to turn over more interview transcripts and recordings from an oral history project on the sectarian killings in Northern Ireland to federal prosecutors in Boston.
However, it remains to seen if that material or an earlier cache will be released to British authorities, who are seeking it. They are investigating the abduction and slaying of Jean McConville, a mother of 10, in Belfast in 1972, who is referenced in the project.
In a five-page ruling issued Friday, Judge William G. Young ordered the college to turn over transcripts from seven interview subjects to prosecutors, who had subpoenaed the items on behalf of British investigators. The Provisional Irish Republican Army has admitted to killing McConville because she was suspected of being an informant.
“We are disappointed with [Young’s] ruling in light of the effect it will have on the enterprise of oral history,’’ BC spokesman Jack Dunn said yesterday in an e-mail. “We will take the time allotted us to review our legal options, which include the right to appeal this decision.’’
A spokeswoman for the United States attorney’s office in Boston could not immediately be reached for comment yesterday.
‘We are disappointed with [the] ruling in light of the effect it will have.’
Last month, Young ordered Boston College to turn over interview transcripts and recordings made of Dolours Price, a former IRA member who has admitted involvement in the unsolved killings and disappearances of at least four people, including McConville.
The university complied with that order, but a federal appeals court temporarily blocked prosecutors from turning over the materials to British authorities at the request of two men involved in the making of “The Belfast Project,’’ the BC oral history project about the sectarian strife in Northern Ireland during the latter half of the 20th century.
The men, former IRA member Anthony McIntyre and Irish journalist Ed Moloney, the project director, have argued in court papers that releasing the materials could endanger the safety of McIntyre and his family. The release could also cause further turmoil in Northern Ireland by opening politically sensitive wounds, the men have argued.
All interview subjects were promised anonymity until they died.
On Friday, Young wrote that BC must turn over the additional transcripts to prosecutors three business days after the temporary hold on the Price materials is lifted. Prosecutors and lawyers for Moloney and McIntyre are expected to present oral arguments on the matter in March, court records show.
Price has said that McConville’s murder was ordered by Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, a political party which formerly served as the political arm of the IRA. Adams has adamantly denied the allegation.
In 2006, the police ombudsman for Northern Ireland issued a report asserting that authorities did not begin investigating McConville’s disappearance until 1995. Her body was recovered in 2003.