Esquire: The Troubles We’ve Seen

The Troubles We’ve Seen
By Charles P. Pierce
The Politics Blog

The blog has been following closely the attempt by the British and (more shamefully) the American governments to pry loose the files of The Belfast Project, an attempt by journalists and scholars to put together an authoritative oral history of the last round of “Troubles” in Northern Ireland. The people running The Belfast Project got a great number of the principals to talk about their roles in the conflict, and they did so by promising the parties involved that their interviews would be held in confidence. The British government seems to be on a fishing expedition as regards one particular murder, that of Jean McConville, who disappeared in 1972, but whose body was not found until 31 years later. This appears to be an attempt to implicate Gerry Adams in McConville’s death, something that Adams has denied. Defenders of the Boston College program make the not unreasonable point that this kind of official strong-arming would put a chill into academic historical research of the kind they’re conducting, and they also hint that the British government, which has not shown any inclination to investigate hundreds of other murders, particularly those committed by Loyalist militants, has concentrated on this particular crime out of a desire to embarrass Adams, who was elected to the Dail Eireann last year.

Yesterday, the Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union joined the fight on Boston College’s behalf, submitting arguments on behalf of the researchers with the U.S. Court Of Appeals currently dealing with the case. The ACLU argues not only that the people running the project were within their rights as journalists to promise anonymity, but also that they will be in danger of reprisals themselves if the material is handed over to the authorities for possible prosecutions. Were I a professional historian, particularly a historian working in unravelling the various sectarian bloodletting of the century just passed, this kind of thing would make me very, very nervous.

ACLU joins in appeal of release of Boston College interviews

ACLU joins in appeal of release of Boston College interviews
By Milton Valencia
Boston Globe
FEBRUARY 29, 2012

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts has decided to support two journalists who are fighting release of interviews they conducted for the Belfast Project at Boston College, an oral history of the tumultuous times in Northern Ireland known as The Troubles.

The ACLU filed legal arguments yesterday with the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit opposing release of the interviews, saying the journalists had a right to argue on their behalf and that the release of the information would jeopardize their integrity.

The ACLU also argued that the journalists and their subjects would be labeled informers and subjected to violence by a paramilitary group in Northern Ireland, pointing out the Irish Republican Army’s rules forbidding disclosure of information.

“The forced turnover of interview materials will convert the interviewees and their interviewers into informants,’’ the ACLU said in legal arguments.

In December, a US District Court judge ordered BC to turn over the documents to the federal government, which had subpoenaed them on behalf of British authorities investigating crimes during the sectarian fight for control of Northern Ireland. England and the United States have a treaty that requires each of them to furnish materials that would aid in criminal inquiries.

British officials are looking into the killing of Jean McConville, a Belfast mother of 10 who disappeared in 1972 and whose body was recovered in 2003. The IRA has admitted to killing her because she was falsely suspected of being an informer.

The Belfast Project journalists guaranteed their sources anonymity until death.

But British officials were specifically interested in the interviews with former IRA member Dolours Price. Price and Brendan Hughes, another former IRA member, have said in other interviews that the abduction, execution, and burial of McConville was ordered by Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, which had served as the IRA’s political arm.

US District Court Judge William G. Young agreed to order BC to turn over materials related to the Price interview. He later ordered that other interviews be released as well. BC said that it would not appeal the ruling related to the Price interview, but that it opposed release of the remaining interviews.

The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has agreed to review the decision, specifically Young’s refusal to let the two journalists, Anthony McIntyre and Ed Molony, argue against the release of the information.

Moloney has said that he moved forward with his own legal action because BC had not addressed the effects that release of the information could have on the political scene in Ireland and the safety of McIntyre, who lives in Ireland.


Amicus Curiae Brief of ACLU in Support of Appellants Moloney & McIntyre


Wide Awake in America

Wide Awake in America
Chris Bray

I was wrong.

I said in this post that the “continuing discussion about Boston College and the federal subpoenas of its Belfast Project material is a discussion about the very thing itself, about the place and nature of academic inquiry.” But the amicus brief  the ACLU of Massachusetts filed yesterday in the legal appeal by Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre forces me to reassess.

The continuing discussion about Boston College and the federal subpoenas of its Belfast Project material is a discussion about being a human being, about how to live in a daily exchange with other people and the events that connect us. It’s a discussion about the need for skepticism and independent thought, about the importance of critical engagement. It’s about the choice between eating what appears on the plate in front of you or demanding to know who cooked it and what’s in it. All this, ladies and gentlemen, and in a mere legal brief. It’s like they spiked the punch bowl: I was just a little thirsty, and now the room is spinning.

Below this post, I’ll cut and paste the summary that Moloney and McIntyre sent in a press release today. But I hope you’ll skip it — I hope you’ll read the whole brief instead. Skimming through the procedural boilerplate at the top, you should be able to carefully read the whole thing in less than half an hour. Compare the detail, care, and thought that this brief demonstrates to the dismalgibbering nonsense that has poured out of Boston College in the wake of these subpoenas.

This smart and engaged brief — it shows what it means to be alive and to think. It’s a joy to read, and a real accomplishment.

Press release: ACLU Files Amicus Brief in Support of Appellants Moloney & McIntyre

ACLU Files Amicus Brief in Support of Appellants Moloney & McIntyre

Boston College Subpoenas Would “Transform Interviewers and Interviewees Into Informers” and Liable to Execution by IRA – ACLU Amicus Brief

The two people at the center of the controversial Boston College Tapes case, former Belfast Project Director and journalist, Ed Moloney and IRA interviewer and academic, Anthony McIntyre, today welcomed the intervention of the Massachusetts affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLUM”) in support of their appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which is due to hear their appeal in early April.

In its extensive and hard-hitting amicus brief, ACLUM confirmed that the interviewers for the oral history project on the Troubles in Northern Ireland run by Boston College could face an IRA death penalty if the US government’s bid to force the handover of interview materials was to succeed. The ACLUM’s amicus brief was prepared independently without input from the Appellants or their attorneys.

Noting that the killing of suspected informers by paramilitary groups has continued in Northern Ireland despite the Good Friday Agreement and that IRA rules forbid the disclosure of it secrets by members, the ACLUM, said: “The forced turnover of interview materials will convert the interviewees and their interviewers into informants… the name of solving a 40-year-old murder, the Government risks subjecting multiple participants in the Belfast Project to the ultimate retaliation.”

ACLUM also raised concerns that the District Court’s denial of a motion to intervene filed by the two academics “will have a detrimental effect on the First Amendment activities of academics, as well as on others who gather information of legitimate public concern for dissemination to the public.” The ACLUM argues that it believe that “the academics who gathered that information under a pledge of confidentiality should be permitted to intervene and participate in the outcome of the case.”

ACLUM is also concerned that if the tapes are released, it may make it “more difficult for all those who hold confidential information about individuals — an increasingly common event in the modern digital age — to have a right to be heard in opposition to efforts by public or private parties to compel the disclosure of such information.”

Alluding to the dangers of the UK government seeking confidential archives outside its jurisdiction, ACLUM further raised concerns about the U.S. government’s argument that “governments who are parties to Mutual Law Assistance Treaties should have greater rights than United States federal and local law enforcement authorities to subpoena documents without judicial review.”

The ACLUM dismissed the Government’s argument that Moloney and McIntyre had undermined their claim of risk to their personal safety when they decided to publicize the fact that the subpoenas had been issued as “reminiscent of an argument that might have been made by Joseph K’s accusers in Kafka’s The Trial. A witness’s decision to fight the government’s behind-closed-doors decisions affecting the witness’s welfare is not grounds, in this country at least, to impeach the witness’s motives for applying to the court for relief.”

Calling police efforts over the past forty years to solve the murder at the center of the subpoenas – that of alleged British Army spy Jean McConville in 1972 – a “non-investigation”, while charting in detail police refusal to co-operate in inquiries into their own collusion with Loyalist death squads, the ACLUM raised the possibility that the real purpose of the subpoenas is to embarrass the Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams who is alleged to have ordered Mrs McConville’s death. It added that the “PSNI/RUC’s self-inflicted wound, their sorry record of non-performance over more than 40 years, does not justify an invasion of academic freedom and the likely destruction of much of this valuable historic research.”

“Academic freedom should not pay the price for the constable’s incompetence. This saga of non-performance by the police does not justify a chilling invasion of the Belfast Project’s oral history efforts”.

The U.S. Government’s efforts to deny Moloney and McIntyre intervention in the case would, if applied to MLAT’s with other countries, deny US citizens the legal safeguards they enjoy at the hands of domestic law enforcement agencies, the ACLUM said, and prevent their intervention to challenge executive decisions in such controversial, bizarre and disturbing cases as:

  • Russia’s prosecution of a dead man, Sergei Magnitsky, who died in prison after torture;
  • The Chinese government’s prosecution of Nobel Prize winner, Liu Xiaobo;
  • The arrests and prosecution of US non-governmental organizations by the Egyptian government;
  • The justification of sexual harassment at work by a Russian judge on the grounds that otherwise “we would have no children”.

Calling the District court’s decision to prevent Moloney and McIntyre from defending the pledges of confidentiality they gave interviewees for the Belfast Project “an alarming and unprecedented infringement on First Amendment interests”, the ACLUM described their interests in protecting the confidentiality pledge, “a textbook case for intervention”.

ACLU Motion for Leave to File Amicus Brief

Amicus Curiae Brief of ACLU in Support of Appellants Moloney & McIntyre


2 at BC profited from book based on Troubles tapes

2 at BC profited from book based on Troubles tapes
By Travis Andersen
Boston Globe
FEBRUARY 27, 2012

Two Boston College employees received royalty payments from a book based on interviews conducted at the college about the conflict in Northern Ireland, even though the college has criticized the author for publishing the book.

Ed Moloney, the author of “Voices from the Grave,’’ a book published in 2010 and based on interviews he and others conducted for the Belfast Project at BC, sent e-mails to the Globe yesterday showing a record of payments totaling about $6,400 made last year to Robert K. O’Neill, librarian at the college’s John J. Burns Library, and Thomas E. Hachey, a professor of
history at BC.

The payments were first reported yesterday when Moloney gave an interview on the Irish radio program “This Week,’’ broadcast on RT Radio 1 in Dublin.

He went public after Jack Dunn, a Boston College spokesman, told RTÉ last month that Moloney published the book while knowing that doing so would carry legal risks, in part to make a profit.

“I think quite frankly Mr. Moloney was so excited for this project, and quite frankly so eager to write a book from which he would profit, that he’’ ignored the stated limits of confidentiality, Dunn told the program.

A federal judge in Boston has ordered BC to turn over some project interview transcripts to prosecutors, who subpoenaed them on behalf of British authorities investigating the 1972 abduction and murder in Belfast of Jean McConville.

Last week, the college said it would fight the order but has already turned over an earlier cache of materials, a move that infuriated Moloney and other project researchers.

They believe releasing any of the documents could endanger project participants, who gave the interviews with the understanding that their conversations would be kept secret until they died.

Court records show Moloney signed an agreement with BC in 2001 indicating that all project participants had to sign a contract stating that the interviews would be kept secret until they died “to the extent American law allows.’’

However, the agreements the interviewees signed didn’t contain that caveat.

In a statement yesterday, Dunn said the editorial compensation that Hachey and O’Neill received for the book is customary in academia. “The issue is not compensation, but rather that the book, coupled with [project participant] Dolours Price’s interview to the Irish media in which she implicated herself and [Sinn Fein leader] Gerry Adams in the abduction and murder of Jean McConville, were the likely catalysts for the first subpoena,’’ Dunn said.

Moloney said in a phone interview yesterday that BC wanted him to publish a book about the project. He forwarded an e-mail that Hachey wrote in 2009 to Moloney’s literary agent, Jonathan Williams, requesting that he and O’Neill appear on the title page with Moloney as co-editors.

Hachey also wrote “we are only interested in having some smaller part of an income stream to the Burns Library, and to the B.C. Irish Programs Center, in order possibly to help to support enterprises of this kind, and the Burns Visiting Scholar fund.’’

In a statement yesterday, Hachey said the payments he and O’Neill received were modest, considering the work they put in as editors. He also said he never suggested that BC would receive money from the publication.

“The correspondence with [Williams] was when the project was still at an early stage and Bob and I were speculating about the possible ways in which some of the revenue might be used to pursue our interest in examining further the phenomenology of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland,’’ Hachey said.

He said the possibilities included starting a new lecture series about Northern Ireland at BC – which they ultimately decided was not feasible – and launching another oral history project focusing on victims of the sectarian strife with the help of a grant. Hachey said the grant application was rejected.


See also: 


Eagles Abroad Feel No Effect From Project

Eagles Abroad Feel No Effect From Project
Legal Case Fails To Gain Attention Overseas
By David Cote, News Editor
The Heights
Published: Sunday, February 26, 2012

Boston College students studying abroad in Ireland and the United Kingdom were alerted last month by the administration to the subpoenas of the Belfast Project, an oral history project undertaken by the University in the early 2000s that has ignited much discussion both abroad and in the United States. Students abroad have stated that they have not felt in danger since arriving in Ireland, and many were unaware of the legal case until receiving the letter.

“I was a little surprised by the letter because I hadn’t heard anything about it before and that was the first time our coordinator had contacted us since we arrived in Ireland,” said Julia Krakow, A&S ’13, who is studying abroad in Cork, Ireland. “So I would say [the letter] was definitely more discomforting than comforting. I thought the e-mail was a little over the top. Maybe the situation is more serious in Northern Ireland, but from what I’ve seen in Cork, no one even knows anything about it.”

Other students abroad in Ireland made similar comments, saying that they had not experienced any sort of controversy due to the project.

“I am currently studying abroad in Cork in the south of Ireland and, despite the area’s historic involvement with the IRA, I cannot even say the whole Belfast e-mail has changed anything at all,” said Molly Moltzen, A&S ’13.

At the time the letter was sent, University Spokesman Jack Dunn pointed out that the letter was not intended to scare students or make them nervous about being abroad as BC students.
“The letter was our way of reminding students to follow common sense guidelines for an issue that is likely never to materialize,” Dunn said.

The letter made specific suggestions to students, which included avoiding wearing BC apparel when visiting cities like Belfast and avoiding discussing the politics of Northern Ireland in public.

“I was a bit taken aback that the e-mail advised against wearing BC clothing, so I asked a few of my Irish friends about the issue and for the most part, none of them had heard about it,” Krakow said. “One friend said he heard something on the news about it, but no one really thinks it’s as big of an issue as the e-mail made it out to be.”

Though the letter was disconcerting to some, it was also informative for students who had not heard of the situation previously.

“At the very worst, it felt a bit disconcerting, but that’s how a warning or a safety precaution is supposed to feel,” said Peter Tasca, A&S ’13. “Apart from some friends talking to me about it in private, no one’s approached me.”

The letter also stated a firm belief that students abroad were not in danger.

“Please know that we do not believe that you are at risk in any way, and that we fully expect that your semester abroad will be an exciting and rewarding experience,” the letter read. “Our intention in writing is to alert you to an ongoing issue so that you will continue to use good judgment in all of your dealings overseas.”

Students studying abroad stated that they have not felt threatened, and many have joked about the letter with the Irish friends they’ve made since arriving.

State may play big role in Boston Tapes conclusion

State may play big role in Boston Tapes conclusion
By Jim Dee
Belfast Telegraph
Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Ironically, for a case sparking huge interest on both sides of the Atlantic, there are times when following the Boston College IRA tapes court saga is akin to watching paint dry.
Last week, Boston College appealed against a judge’s ruling that it surrender to US prosecutors (acting on Britain’s behalf) interviews conducted a decade ago with seven former IRA members – interviews deemed, to varying degrees, of relevance to the IRA’s 1972 murder of Jean McConville.

In December, Judge William Young had ordered the college to hand over interviews conducted with convicted Old Bailey bomber Dolours Price, in which she allegedly implicates Gerry Adams in Mrs McConville’s murder.

That ruling was appealed by two lead researchers of Boston’s oral history project on the Troubles, journalist Ed Moloney and former IRA member Anthony McIntyre, who argue the peace process will be imperiled if the PSNI ultimately obtains the material and initiates prosecutions.

However, it may be that the fate of the interviews may be decided via quiet diplomatic back-channels rather than a courtroom.

Judge Young said in December there were few grounds for flexibility regarding America’s obligations under the 1994 US-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.

The only one with potential relevance in the Price case is if the US was to deem any of its “essential interests” at risk. Moloney and McIntyre argue, given Washington’s long-term involvement in it, the Irish peace process qualifies.

Professor Jim Cohen, a criminal law expert at Fordham University in New York, said the “essential interests” clause could play a pivotal role. “No question about that,” said Cohen. “[The court] would have to defer to the sovereign – the sovereign being the State Department, as representative of the United States.”

Cohen added that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could also make a statement that, while stopping short of declaring that America’s essential interests are at stake, “would allow a court to conclude that and thus take the weight off the executive branch”.

The State Department’s role has always been a wild card. Several Washington sources, told the Belfast Telegraph that ‘State’ – and even Clinton herself – must have signed off on the Justice Department’s decision to pursue the British subpoena.

The question now is whether or not opposition to the subpoena by Irish-American groups and some senior members of Congress will be enough to persuade State to weigh in on behalf of Boston College, Moloney and McIntyre.

One insider, who’s long had a hand in Irish affairs, said a State Department intervention is by no means certain. “They may decide the peace process is healthy enough to survive on its own,” he said. “But if they decide this is a problem to be solved, then I think the problem will be solved quietly, behind closed doors.”

As an example, he cited the case of three IRA prisoners who escaped from the Maze prison in September 1983 and were later arrested in the San Francisco area.

Years of British attempts to secure their extradition from the US followed. But after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, Britain scrapped the effort.

“And the reason they withdrew it was that the Clinton administration let it be known that they really didn’t like it,” said the insider.

Whether or not history repeats itself may well determine the victor in the Boston College saga.

Called to Account

Called to Account
Chris Bray

A librarian and a professor claimed half of the royalties from a book based on a research project they had nominally overseen, saying they would use the cash for the support of further research at their university. Then they took the money for themselves, and they didn’t tell the university they’d done it. Years later, lost in the dark, the university made an outrageous attack on an outside researcher it had hired for the same project: the university’s spokesman publicly denigrated the researcher for making money on the book that resulted from the project, without mentioning that the professor and the librarian had done the same. He made that false claim because he didn’t know it was false, since the professor and the librarian had never mentioned that they profited from the book (and because the exceptionally reckless spokesman was making a serious personal attack based only on his uninformed assumptions).


On Sunday, a radio show on RTE — the Irish national broadcaster — examined a particularly cheap shot that Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn had taken on Ed Moloney, the Irish journalist who ran BC’s Belfast Project as a contractor. In an earlier RTE interview, since pulled from RTE’s website, Dunn claimed that Moloney wrote a bookusing material from a sensitive archival collection because his personal greed had made him reckless:

“I think, quite frankly, Mr. Moloney was so excited for this project and, quite frankly, so eager to write a book from which he would profit that he refused to ignore the obvious statements that were made to him, including the contract that he signed, expressing the limitations of confidentiality.”

What Dunn didn’t mention is that Moloney only made half the royalties from the book, because he had split it with two people at Boston College: Professor Thomas Hachey, the executive director of the university’s Center for Irish Programs, and Burns Librarian Robert O’Neill, pictured here with Hachey in a story about the Belfast Project.

On Sunday, the RTE ran a new interview with Dunn, which included this exchange:

FM: When you [were] referring to Ed Moloney profiting from the publication of this particular book in interviews both with RTE and with The Boston College Heights, why did you choose not to reveal the fact that Boston College staff members had, in fact, shared the profits as well?

JD: I wasn’t aware that they had. I found that out yesterday in a conversation with Bob Hachey, with, excuse me, with Bob O’Neill.


Listen to the RTE story here, and read a transcript here.

Having attacked Moloney for making money from the book he wrote using no-longer-confidential material from a collection that is still largely embargoed, Dunn also discovered in his Sunday interview that his own earlier claims hadn’t been intended as an attack on Moloney’s greed: “Mr. Moloney profited from the book and then he shared profits with it with Professor Hachey and Burns’ Librarian Bob O’Neill. The issue has never been that Mr. Moloney profited from the book; he wrote it, he should profit from it. And he chose to share that with two individuals. That’s not the issue.”

Just one question for Jack Dunn: If it’s not the issue, why did you raise the point in the first place, explicitly framed by a reference to the “profit” that had supposedly caused the author to write the book?

But the story behind the money from Moloney’s book is more remarkable than this desperate cloud of recent nonsense from BC’s persistently unprofessional spokesman. Remember that the Belfast Project ran from 2001 to 2006, sponsored by Boston College, and hired researchers in Northern Ireland to collect interviews with former members of paramilitary organizations that had fought on both sides during the Troubles. Moloney was the research director, running the program under the aegis of Hachey’s Center for Irish programs, and O’Neill archived the result (though he would later tell a federal court that he had no idea what any of the project materials contained). Interviews were protected from release during the lifetime of interviewees, although some interviews of living interviewees have now been subpoenaed. When two interviewees died, Moloney — the author of several earlier books on Northern Ireland — used the archival materials from those two interviewees as the basis of a new book.

Now. In a Feb. 9, 2009 email to Neil Belton, an editor at Faber & Faber (which published Voices from the Grave), with Moloney CC’ed, Hachey wrote that he and O’Neill

…would be entirely supportive of a three way split of future royalties in which Ed might very well get half, with the Burns and the Center splitting the balance (Bob could use the income for existing claims on his budget from this project, while I would use any Center revenue as seed money for the victims study if we are successful in getting the Independent Consultative Group to endorse our application). But that is some time away and in the meantime we ( Bob and I ) would be amenable to whatever formula is agreed upon. I am certain that there will be no dissent about how to share potential revenue from subsidiary rights as Bob and I are anxious to fully compensate Ed for what has been his tireless and productive efforts, and we are only interested in having some smaller part of an income stream to the Burns Library, and to the B.C. Irish Programs Center, in order possibly to help to support enterprises of this kind, and the Burns Visting Scholar fund. (emphasis added)

So the money Hachey and O’Neill would receive would be for “theBurns and the Center,” to fund “enterprises of this kind” and to support visiting scholars.

Then Ed Moloney got his first royalty check, and asked for bank account information so he could arrange a wire transfer of the half he had promised to Boston College. In a series of Jan. 6, 2011 email messages, Robert O’Neill first wrote back, “My account information is as follows: Bank of America Routing No.011000138; Account No. [redacted],” then added, “The account is in the name of Robert K. and Helen A. O’Neill, though Robert will suffice, as I do not want to involve Helen in any tax liabilities. The mailing address on the checks is P.O. Box 6625, Holliston, MA 01746.” (emphasis added)

In a similar series of email messages on Jan. 10 and 11, Hachey also provided account information so that Moloney could arrange a wire transfer of royalty money, writing, “the name(s) on the account to which our [redacted] account number corresponds is Thomas E. and Jane B. Hachey.” (again, emphasis added)

Ed Moloney has kept those email messages, and he has kept the wire transfer records, all of which he has given to me. He sent all of that to me precisely because the spokesman for Boston College decided to attack him for making money from his book; no attack, no reply. The same goes for the RTE story on Sunday. Jack Dunn’s mouth shook this story out of the dark, where it would otherwise have remained.

Finally, for now: Replying to RTE’s story on Sunday with a written statement, Hachey claimed a share of the royalties from Moloney’s book on the premise that he and O’Neill had served as “general editors of the publication” who “naturally do receive compensation for our work as would editors over any such.”

Unclear on the duties of “general editors,” I asked Moloney if Hachey and O’Neill had performed any editing duties on his book. His emailed answer: “absolutely none – i sent them chapters as i finished them seeking comment and never got a single one back.”

Quite a picture.

More to come.

Boston College Confidentiality – Public references to agreement

Because of the secrecy of the project during its collection, public comment on the project was limited, and did not surface until the publication of the Hughes and Ervine book, Voices from the Grave. Private assurances by Boston College were made throughout the life of the project. Here are samples of some of the public references to Boston College’s confidentiality agreement.

Trustees of Boston College

The assurances of confidentiality at the start and during the interview process were subsequently documented when the interviews were concluded. Each interviewee was given a form to donate his or her interview materials to the Burns Library at Boston College on the express condition that the materials would not be disclosed, absent the interviewee’s permission, until after his or her death. – MOTION OF TRUSTEES OF BOSTON COLLEGE TO QUASH SUBPOENAS

Robert O’Neill, Director of the John J. Burns Library

“6. Each person interviewed for the Belfast Project was offered a donation agreement directing that his or her interview materials be deposited in the Burns Library at Boston College. If the interviewee agreed to the donation, the donation form reassured the interviewee that no part of the interviews would be released without the interviewee’s approval or until theinterviewee died, whichever came first.

7. A uniform donation agreement for Belfast Project interview materials was offered to all interviewees. It was the same as the form signed by one of the interviewees, the late Brendan Hughes, that is annexed to this statement as O’Neill Attachment 2, except that the Hughes donation form has additional handwritten terms that he requested.

11. Given the sensitive nature of the information revealed by the interviewers, it was important from the start to assure the participants in the oral history project that every effort would be made to keep their participation confidential, and that no transcripts or tapes would be released before the deaths of the interviewees unless they gave formal permission to do so.” – Affidavit of Robert O’Neill, director of the John J. Burns Library, 2 June, 2011

Professor Thomas Hachey, Executive Director of the Center for Irish Programs

“9. No one is allowed to see any of the transcripts, or to listen to the recorded version, until the demise of a given contributor, or until such a person himself or herself provides permission for access to the document in writing. That was, and remains, the hard and fast conditions of the embargo that have been placed on access to these materials. – Affidavit of Professor Thomas Hachey, 2 June, 2011

“I want you to know and you can quote me on this, any one of you, because I don’t think the president (Fr Leahy) would mind me divulging this and he would certainly confirm it, but he said: ‘I want you to understand,’ he wasn’t talking to me specifically but to my two colleagues (Jack Dunn & Nora Fields), ‘I want you to understand that we are not going to allow interviewers or interviewees to be compromised in this.'” – Professor Thomas Hachey, May 16th 2011

“We aren’t letting anybody into (the archive) and they are not touching it. That’s going to be the bottom line”. – Professor Thomas Hachey, May 16th, 2011

“B.C. is firmly and unconditionally committed to respecting the letter and intent of what is a contractual agreement never to release any of the material to anyone unless given permission in writing (notarized) beforehand by the participant, or until the demise of a participant.” – Professor Thomas Hachey, 23 May, 2010

Preface to Voices from the Grave

“The transcripts of interviews with Irish Republican Army and Ulster Volunteer Force veterans, most of whom were operationally active, are housed at the University’s Burns Library and are subject to prescriptive limitations governing access. Boston College is contractually committed to sequestering the taped transcriptions unless otherwise given a full release, in writing, by the interviewees, or until the demise of the latter.”

“Boston College has had a long interest in Ireland and offered a welcoming and neutral venue in which participants felt a sense of security and confidentiality that made it possible for them to be candid and forthcoming.” – Professor Thomas Hachey and Robert O’Neill, director of the John J. Burns Library, Preface to Voices From the Grave.

Secret files opened for Troubles programme
Irish News
Diana Rusk
March 22, 2010

Boston College does not comment on the individuals involved but in a rare interview Professor Thomas Hachey, the executive director of the Center for Irish Programs, has spoken about its role in the project.
[…]  before the interviews could take place the paramilitaries had to be persuaded to divulge their darkest secrets.
“Some were comforted by the geographical distance of 3,000 miles away while others knew of Boston College and that we don’t have an agenda in Northern Ireland,” Professor Hachey said.
“They also needed to know that we would honour an agreement not to publish any of their testimony until death. The only caveat is that if they give their consent before their death in writing, that would clear us legally.”

US-based archive on Ulster Troubles
Sam McBride
The Newsletter
22 March 2010

“THE man in charge of a vault containing candid testimonies from paramilitaries about their activities during the Troubles has spoken for the first time about its contents.
Historian Professor Thomas Hachey from Boston College told the News Letter that scores of interviews with loyalist and republican paramilitaries had been carried out for the university over the last nine years.
Each individual approached by Boston College agreed to speak frankly on the understanding that their account would not be released until after their death.
No one other than those involved in the interviews knows who spoke to the academics, with the exception of two men – senior IRA member Brendan ‘The Dark’ Hughes and David Ervine from the UVF, whose accounts are to be published next month in Voices From The Grave.
“We began this oral history on the understanding that the documents would be sequested and embargoed in the archives at the Burns Library here in Boston.
“That seemed to be very reassuring to a number of people.”

Hearing Voices
Sean Smith (Editor)
The Boston College Chronicle
3 March 2011 (page 5)

“The oral history project offers survivors, whatever their roles or affiliations, an opportunity to clear up mysteries, fill in missing details, and give first-hand perspectives of the Troubles, say Hachey and O’Neill – and in so doing, perhaps come to terms with what they experienced.
“This is still a sharply divided society,” says Hachey. “Until the story of the Troubles is told, and discussed, only then can there be a better understanding of the emotions and motivations of those involved. And that will enable people to move forward.”
Published last year in Ireland and the United Kingdom and recently issued in the United States, Voices from the Grave draws on interviews with Hughes, a major figure in the Irish Republican Army during the 1970s and ’80s, and Ervine, a Loyalist paramilitary who went on to serve in the new Northern Irish government. They, along with nearly three dozen other former combatants interviewed for the project, were guaranteed that no interview material would be used without their consent or until after their death. Ervine died in 2007, Hughes in 2008.”

Miscellaneous references

Sinn Féin ‘fears book by ex-IRA commander Brendan Hughes’
Henry McDonald
The Observer
1 November 2009

“The former Belfast IRA commander handed the interviews to Boston University on the understanding they could not be made public until he died. It is understood at least 20 other former IRA veterans have also left interviews in a Boston University archive, which will be published after their deaths.”

Tom Tracy’s legacy of truth and tolerance
Liam Clarke
The Newsletter
22 March 2010

“The archive which Tracy endowed is typical of his commitment to honesty. It consists of the testimony of over 80 republican and loyalist paramilitary leaders recorded on the basis that they would not be released before their deaths.”

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams denies McConville death claims
BBC News
29 March 2010

“The allegations against Mr Adams, and others, were made in a series of interviews Mr Hughes gave to a researcher for Boston College in 2001 and 2002. He spoke on condition that the material would not be published until after his death.”

Voices From the Grave
Neil Belton, Faber & Faber
The Thought Fox, Faber blog,
12 April 2010

“Boston College years ago decided to fund a major series of interviews with former paramilitary leaders before too many of them passed away. They were encouraged to be frank; and to encourage honesty they were promised that nothing they said would be published before they died. Ervine died in 2007, Hughes a year later.”

Men’s stories of Northern Ireland tell of enmity, loyalty, tenderness
Rachelle Linner
Catholic San Francisco
February 2nd, 2011

“The men, interviewed under the auspices of the Boston College Oral History Archive on the Troubles in Northern Ireland, were guaranteed that nothing they said would be used without their consent or until after their death. (Ervine died in 2007 and Hughes in 2008.)”

Boston College to house Northern Ireland decommissioning archive
Brian Fitzpatrick
Irish Emigrant

“The Burns Library also houses the Center for Irish Programs’ oral history archive of IRA and UVF volunteers, which are to remain sealed until their deaths.”

Full text of Irish News interview with Professor Thomas Hachey

Secret files opened for Troubles programme
Diana Rusk
Irish News
March 22, 2010

The secret memoirs of a former IRA hunger striker and a UVF bomb maker turned politician are to be broadcast in a television documentary.

Their accounts are two of those stored in a secret archive in Boston College.

A book based on interviews given by ex-IRA hunger striker Brendan ‘The Dark’ Hughes and UVF bomb maker turned politician David Ervine, both of whom have since died, is due to be published at the end of the month.

It has emerged that journalist Ed Moloney is also working on a documentary based on the verbal accounts held in the Burns Library in Boston College.

Professor Thomas Hachey of the college’s Center for Irish Programs said up to 80 paramilitaries had agreed to speak on condition that their stories would not be published until after their deaths.

Memoirs to reveal dark secrets of key players in conflict – Dozens of paramilitary figures have revealed their stories to a US college on one condition – that they remain unpublished until their deaths. Ahead of the release of two eagerly awaited accounts, Diana Rusk spoke to Professor Thomas Hachey, the keeper of some of Northern Ireland’s darkest secrets

They would only agree to share their macabre secrets if they were stored in archives thousands of miles away and kept under lock and key during their lifetimes.

Between 60 and 80 senior members of republican and loyalist paramilitary factions have their memoirs held as recordings and transcripts in the gothic-style Burns Library in Boston College.

When they are released from the Massachusets university, they will provide a postscript to the Troubles by those who perpetrated the violence.

Boston College does not comment on the individuals involved but in a rare interview Professor Thomas Hachey, the executive director of the Center for Irish Programs, has spoken about its role in the project.

It involves the facilitation of the renowned college, the generosity of an Irish American millionaire, the work of two former paramilitary prisoners and the agreement of bombmakers and killers themselves.

Prof Hachey said Boston College’s Center for Irish Programs took part in the project “to help build an archive that might help inform other societies afflicted by sectarian or ideological differences”.

“What it will do will help illuminate the mindset of people who are engaged at the operational level, people who implemented the campaign, what their attitude was then and what their thinking is looking back on it retrospectively,” he said.

“In some instances there was change, in others, no change.”

The funds for the project – running into several hundred thousand dollars – came from donors, the largest of which was the late California-based multi-millionaire Tom Tracy, an Irish American whose family had made their money in car manufacturing.

“He was typical of a lot of Irish Americans who were of nationalist extraction,” Prof Hachey said.

“He went over (to Northern Ireland) thinking this would be a simple case of unionist or loyalist exploitation of Catholics and came back enlightened by his exposure.

“In 2001 he came to us and said: ‘Why don’t we try to get some of the people on both sides together?’

“He had talked at that time to two different parties in the north who were willing to step forward – they were former militants themselves who now were totally committed to peace and reconciliation.”

Two people were tasked with carrying out the interviews. One was from the loyalist side and the other from the republican side – former IRA prisoner Anthony McIntyre, a critic of the Good Friday Agreement.

They were paid an “abundantly modest” sum for their work but Professor Hachey said most of the money went to buying recording equipment and paying professional typists to transcribe the accounts.

The interviewees received no money.

“Both researchers had the advantage of having been arrested and interned and spent time in Long Kesh (the Maze prison),” he said.

“They went out and interviewed people who didn’t necessarily agree with them because some people being interviewed remained militants.

“But they were people who trusted them all the same because these were people not only who had fought the same fight but who had ‘paid time’ as it were.

“It’s like if you spend time in Long Kesh, you earned respect – even if it’s a grudging respect – from your sectarian group.”

Others who offered help were journalist Ed Moloney and academic and former advisor to David Trimble, Lord Bew, who encouraged the project.

Professor Hachey said there were between “60 and 80” people interviewed between 2001/02 until 2006/07 when, “at that juncture we had compiled as much as we could reasonably expect to”.

The list includes former IRA figures such as former Old Bailey bomber Dolours Price.

“These were not the leaders and they were not the gophers who didn’t know who they were functioning for. These were all people at the operational level.”

The accounts of two of the key players are soon to be published in a book by Mr Moloney entitled Voices from the Grave, with a provisional date for publication of March 30.

An RTE documentary is also planned to be broadcast in the summer.

Much speculation has surrounded the story of Brendan ‘The Dark’ Hughes, a Belfast IRA leader, because of his relationship with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and his likely insight into the IRA practice of ‘disappearing’ people in the early 1970s.

The second person is David Ervine, a UVF bombmaker turned politician, whose account could shed light on the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings that killed 33 people.

However, before the interviews could take place the paramilitaries had to be persuaded to divulge their darkest secrets.

“Some were comforted by the geographical distance of 3,000 miles away while others knew of Boston College and that we don’t have an agenda in Northern Ireland,” Professor Hachey said.

“They also needed to know that we would honour an agreement not to publish any of their testimony until death. The only caveat is that if they give their consent before their death in writing, that would clear us legally.”

Some people proved hard to persuade and one person who was at first reluctant to get involved, later agreed to be interviewed and then withdrew his testimony so he could publish his account independently.

Richard O’Rawe, an IRA prisoner on the same wing as Bobby Sands, went on to write The Blanketmen, which has caused controversy in republican circles over his account of efforts to end the 1981 Hunger Strike.

After publishing his story he wrote to Prof Hachey saying: “Thank you for making this possible, Tom”, even though the pair had never met.

Boston College has not decided exactly how to publish future accounts after other participants die or agree in writing for their accounts to be released.

“Ed Moloney is a gifted writer and a good journalist and we had no hesitation whatsoever in his involvement. He was active from the very beginning when he helped us identify people as we went along,” Prof Hachey said.

“That does not mean this is the way we will publish other accounts. Being a historian I would like to see as much made publicly available as possible and we could put it entirely, digitally, online in the future or with other scholars.”

Prof Hachey is conscious not to speculate on the impact the upcoming book and any future accounts on figures like Gerry Adams, who has denied he was an IRA member.

“Overall the project is very important. The history of the Troubles has almost become a cottage industry with about a book a month being published,” he said.

“I don’t think this will eclipse them all but it is a unique approach from all ends of the political spectrum and it’s going to be more informative than other studies have been.”

Transcript: Fran McNulty Interviews Boston College Spokesperson Jack Dunn and former Belfast Project Director Ed Moloney

Transcript: Fran McNulty Interviews Boston College Spokesperson Jack Dunn and former Belfast Project Director Ed Moloney
RTE Radio 1
“This Week”
Sunday 26 Feb 2012


Fran McNulty (FM) interviews Ed Moloney (EM) via telephone about the statement made by Boston College spokesperson Jack Dunn, that Mr. Moloney solely profited from the sale of the book, Voices From the Grave. Mr. McNulty also interviews Jack Dunn (JD) in rebuttal.

Fran McNulty (FM): In January on the RTE News website Boston College spokesperson, Jack Dunn, had the following to say about author Ed Moloney:

Jack Dunn (JD): I think, quite frankly, Mr. Moloney was so excited for this project and, quite frankly, so eager to write a book from which he would profit that he refused to ignore the obvious statements that were made to him, including the contract that he signed, expressing the limitations of confidentiality.

FM: Jack Dunn was referring to the book, Voices From the Grave, which featured interviews with former UVF member David Ervine and IRA member Brendan Hughes. They were two of the people interviewed as part of The Belfast Project at the college, an archive of interviews with former paramilitaries. A British subpoena has now resulted in the premature release of other interviews. It’s a story we’ve covered in depth on this programme. Ed Moloney has taken great exception to the comments of Jack Dunn. He spoke to me earlier from his home about who exactly made money from the book.

Ed Moloney (EM): The whole history of writing this book shows that Boston College was very closely part of the negotiations. I had agreed that Professor Tom Hachey and Dr. Bob O’Neill would share the by-line on the book; that was perfectly acceptable to me. Unfortunately, the publisher ruled that out and wanted just wanted my name on the book so we had to go along with that. But I also agreed to share the royalties with Boston College: half and half. And that’s exactly what has happened. We’ve been paid royalties-by-favour since I think January, 2011 and I have religiously sent fifty percent of the royalties onto Dr. O’Neill and Professor Hachey. That does not suggest that I was looking for a profit at all.

FM: I does suggest, though, that you did make money from this. Would you agree that Jack Dunn was, at least, accurate in that?

EM: Well, yes. Money was made. For sure. But what are we talking about here? I think my advance, which Boston College agreed that I could keep because I was actually doing the writing for the book, I think amounted to something like ten thousand Euros. The royalties that have come in since January, 2011, according to my last calculation, is approximately nineteen thousand Euros, half of which went to Boston College and half of which went to myself. So that’s what? Nine and a half thousand Euros which is hardly an astronomical sum by anyone’s calculation.

FM: The issue of royalties: you’re saying quite clearly that as far as you’re concerned all of the royalties from the proceeds from this book were split fifty-fifty between you and between Tom Hachey and Bob O’Neill at Boston College. Have you ever had a discussion with them surrounding that subsequent to that agreement being made?

EM: When the first royalty cheque came in from Faber in January, 2011, I sent them an email saying this had happened and, in accordance with our agreement, I would now like to send them half the royalties, could they please send me back their bank account details? Which they did. I have all the emails recording that: the details of where to send the money. I also have all the bank records, with The Allied Irish in Sandymount, which show quite clearly that I did send this money to them and they were quite happy to receive it. So that was the deal. They negotiated this deal with my literary agent, Jonathan Williams, who then dealt with the publishers, Faber; it was perfectly acceptable to me. That’s the way it was agreed and arranged and it’s gone through that way ever since.

FM: Did you transfer the funds into a Boston College account or into both gentleman’s personal accounts?

EM: I can only tell you that I was sent bank account numbers for both Tom Hachey and for Bob O’Neill and those bank account numbers appear to be their personal accounts. So I sent it to the accounts that they asked me to send it to. I have to say, I was a little bit surprised at that because in the email that Tom Hachey sent to Jonathan Williams dealing with this issue, he very specifically said that their share of the money would go, in one part, to The Burns Library to defray some of the expenses associated with the project and the money going to The Center for Irish Programs, to the Tom Hachey part of this arrangement, would be used for purposes to do with The Center. When I asked for their bank account numbers I expected to get the bank account numbers for The Burns Library and The Center for Irish Programs but, in fact, I got what appeared to be their personal accounts.

FM: That was author Ed Moloney. So having insisted recently in the Boston College The Heights newspaper that Ed Moloney was the sole person to profit from the book, what does Boston College now have to say? Jack Dunn, its official spokesperson, has been reacting to Mr. Moloney:

JD: Mr. Moloney profited from the book and then he shared profits with it with Professor Hachey and Burns’ Librarian Bob O’Neill. The issue has never been that Mr. Moloney profited from the book; he wrote it, he should profit from it. And he chose to share that with two individuals. That’s not the issue. Our issue all along, as I have stated in interviews, is that the book, and the publicity surrounding it, in addition to Dolours Price’s interview, is what likely prompted the first subpoena.

FM: On the issue of payments, you have said, heretofore, that Mr. Moloney was the sole person to profit from the publication of this book.

JD: You just played a clip from an RTE interview in which I said “he profited from it”. I didn’t say he was the sole person to profit from it.

FM: And the interview you did with Boston College’s The Heights newspaper in which they said that you said he was the sole person to profit?

JD: Correct. Yeah…the student newspaper here… In that regard I’ve spoken to the students and they understand that that was a mistake by youthful journalists.

FM: Okay, you refer to him sharing with two individuals. Did Boston College, as an institution, receive these funds from Tom Hachey and Bob O’Neill?

JD: No, no. They themselves received that money.

FM: So when Tom Hachey, in an email to Mr. Moloney’s agent said, “we would be entirely supportive of a three-way split of future royalties in which Ed might very well get half, with The Burns and Center splitting the balance, Bob could use the income for existing claims on his budget from the project while I would use any Center revenue as seed money for a victims’ study”, which he goes on to refer to.

JD: My understanding is that Mr. Moloney received fifty percent of the profits from the book, The Burns’ Librarian, Bob O’Neill: twenty-five percent and Professor Hachey: twenty-five percent.

FM: But Mr. Hachey’s claim in this email, which was sent on the twelfth of February in 2009 to Mr. Moloney’s literary agent, which I have here, in which he says the money will be used for The Burns Library and The Center to fund existing claims and costs of the project?

JD: You’ll have to ask that of them.

FM: When you [were] referring to Ed Moloney profiting from the publication of this particular book in interviews both with RTE and with The Boston College Heights, why did you choose not to reveal the fact that Boston College staff members had, in fact, shared the profits as well?

JD: I wasn’t aware that they had. I found that out yesterday in a conversation with Bob Hachey, with, excuse me, with Bob O’Neill.

FM: You hadn’t been aware, up to now, that staff members from Boston College had profited from this?

JD: Correct. In a phone conversation yesterday with The Burns Librarian he confirmed that he and Tom Hachey had received twenty-five percent of the profits from the book.

FM: That’s Jack Dunn there. Well, Professor Hachey, who you’ve heard referred to there a number of times, had indicated he would take part in an interview on the programme but he’s issued a statement to us in which he says: “Boston College has not received compensation of any kind. As general editors of the publication, Bob O’Neill and I naturally do receive compensation for our work as would editors over any such (project).” (Ends.)