A Passive Receptacle

A Passive Receptacle
Chris Bray

Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn sat down for an interview with RTÉ this week, and the result is fascinating. I can’t embed the video, so watch it here, and note what Dunn says starting at 2:14 or so:

“From the very beginning of this project, which was conceived by Ed Moloney — he approached Boston College with the idea to record conversations with former paramilitaries from the IRA and the UVF, and he asked if we would be interested in being a repository of these materials. Boston College is America’s leading institution on Irish studies, Irish history, Irish literature. We agreed to add it to our extensive holdings as one more example of something that could be used as a resource for future historians, for journalists, etc., regarding the Troubles.”

So this Moloney guy shows up on campus one day, and he’s doing this project — all his thing, totally his own effort, has nothing to do with anybody on campus — and he asks BC if, you know, could you spare a little shelf space in the library so I have a place to park this stuff? And BC already has a bunch of Irish stuff in the archives, so they figure what the hell, we’ll toss it in there “as one more example” of stuff we already had, yawn. Had nothing to do with us, you understand, we were just a “repository” that the Moloney guy chose for his own work.

Now. The Boston College Chronicle is BC’s internal newsletter, written and produced by the school’s Office of News and Public Affairs. That office is run by, you’ll never guess, Jack Dunn. Yes, he’s the guy from the video.

Here’s page 5 of the March 3, 2011 edition, published two months before the subpoenas arrived for the Belfast Project material:

You can view an html version of the story on BC’s website here, or download a complete PDF file of the eight-page newsletter, with Jack Dunn’s name on the masthead, here.

So before the arrival of subpoenas, it was “a project organized by Boston College,” it was “Administered by the University’s Center for Irish Programs and the Burns Library,” and BC described it in a university publication as “the Boston College Oral History Archive on the Troubles in Northern Ireland.”

Then came the subpoenas, and a protracted legal struggle, and oh, that old stuff? Yeah, Ed Moloney came by and dropped those off while we were inside watching the game. Not ours — what’s it all about?

If you have LexisNexis access, entertain yourself for a few moments by reading the March 22, 2010 story in the Belfast Newsletter titled, “US-based archive on Ulster Troubles,” by Sam McBride. Thomas Hachey, the director of BC’s Center for Irish Programs and one of the two men pictured on the Chronicle page above, is repeatedly quoted using the word “we” as he describes the Belfast Project: “We began this oral history,” “We’re doing this not for ourselves but for posterity,” “The people that we went out and interviewed.”

Of course, it’s possible that Hachey was experiencing a psychological crisis at the time that caused him to believe he was Ed Moloney. That happened to me at Starbucks, just this morning, and the cashier wouldn’t let me use Chris Bray’s credit card until I returned to my own mental and spiritual interior. But whatever the cause, Thomas Hachey used to believe that he had been somehow involved in Ed Moloney’s scheme to run an oral history project in Northern Ireland.

So did his university.