Leaders’ BC appeal in advance of Cameron visit

Leaders’ BC appeal in advance of Cameron visit
Irish Echo
BY RAY O’HANLON
MARCH 7TH, 2012

Three of the most prominent Irish-American organizations have issued a joint statement on the Boston College archive case in advance of next week’s meeting in Washington between President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

The three, Ancient Order of Hibernians, Brehon Law Society and Irish American Unity Conference, called for the withdrawal of the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s request for records held in the Burns Library of Boston College.

“The records are sought as part of a smear campaign against Irish TD Gerry Adams and Sinn Féin’s campaign in the most recent Irish general election,” said a statement accompanying the appeal.

In addition to a joint statement, the three signatories to the appeal expressed their own positions on an issue that has led to significant debate and multiple court hearings.
National President of the AOH, Seamus Boyle, stated: “In this post-conflict period we would expect Prime Minister Cameron to correct this mistake by withdrawing an invalid request for records which could not be part of a criminal prosecution and which was more likely aimed at interfering politically in Ireland’s election process.”

Jim Cullen of the Brehon Law Society stated: “While rogue elements of the RUC embarrass Attorney General Holder with this mischievous request for academic research we hope the president queries Mr. Cameron’s refusal to provide the promised public inquiry into the murder of human rights lawyer Patrick Finucane by British security forces, and the failure of Britain to fully respond to the Irish governments request for information about the British Army’s role in the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, which led to the largest loss of life during the decades of conflict in Northern Ireland.”

Cullen’s reference to the RUC, the PSNI’s predecessor, is a reflection of a widely held view that former RUC officers now in the PSNI are behind the efforts to lay hands of archived files at Boston College related to the Northern Ireland Troubles.

For his part, Thomas Burke, National President of the IAUC concluded: “When Prime Minister Cameron acknowledged Britain’s 40 years of lying about Bloody Sunday murders we thought a new day had dawned. Now all we can ask is: how long must America turn a blind eye to this history of violence and deceit in Ireland?”

The three leaders said they were adding their voices to the statement from Senator John Kerry, chairman of Senate Foreign Relations, asking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to persuade the British government to revoke the archives request “so that we can continue the process in Ireland of building a true peace based on justice and respect for the rule of law.”

In their joint statement the three leaders said: “We are united in our belief that the Attorney General of the United States, by his issuance of subpoenas to Boston College, has misused and undermined the primary purpose of the U.S.-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty ie. the prompt exchange of information in aid of criminal prosecution of international drug trafficking and related money laundering.

Moreover, the Attorney General failed to first determine if the requested data was part of a bona fide criminal prosecution. It is not. He failed to first determine if by granting this request the Irish peace process could be imperiled. It will be. He failed to first examine the concerns of U.S. Senators for the misuse of the U.S.-UK Extradition Treaty. Their concerns were justified.

“We urge the Attorney General to refuse the request of the UK as an improper use of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and to work with the Senate to prevent its further abuse, especially in the related areas of academic inquiry, personal privacy and protection of constitutional freedoms raised by the litigation.