Group backs secrecy on NI tapes

Group backs secrecy on NI tapes
Irish Times
Thursday, March 1, 2012

THE AMERICAN Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts has warned that disclosing tapes from an oral history project on the Troubles would render Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre liable to execution.

The civil liberties group, in a submission to the US Court of Appeals, also warned that handing over tapes of interviews with republicans, including former IRA prisoner Dolours Price, to British authorities would also leave these interviewees facing possible execution by the IRA. “A culture of death to informants pervades both sides of the Troubles, and it has, unfortunately, survived the Good Friday agreement,” it stated.

The intervention through an “amicus brief” by the group challenging a US district court ruling that interviews be handed over was welcomed by writer, journalist and former director of the so-called Belfast Project, Ed Moloney, and by former IRA prisoner and academic Anthony McIntyre, who carried out the republican interviews.

The project involved taped interviews with former republican and loyalist paramilitaries being lodged with Boston College on the agreement that they would be revealed only on the death of the interviewees. However, the British authorities are now seeking disclosure of some of the republican tapes, including the interviews given by Dolours Price. Boston College is challenging some of the demands but not the requirement to hand over the Price tapes.

The group said the US government had “cavalierly” remarked in its defence of releasing tapes that “the Price interview by Boston College has been widely known for more than a year and nothing has happened” to her or Mr Moloney, Mr McIntyre or others.

“If disclosure is made, there is a grave risk that retaliation will follow,” the group said. It also said that, notwithstanding the peace process, IRA rules forbade the disclosure of secrets by its members.

While the Provisional IRA has ended its campaign of violence, the civil liberties group noted that the Real IRA, in a statement, said that it “unlike the Provos . . . [wasn’t] prepared to tolerate traitors”. It is reported that the PSNI is seeking the Dolours Price tapes to determine if it can shed any light on who murdered Jean McConville in 1972.