Wednesday 4 April 2012
Seamus McKee (SMc) goes to BBC Reporter Andy Martin (AM) who is reporting live from Boston covering the appeal hearing on the matter of the PSNI subpoenaing records from Boston College’s Oral History known as The Belfast Project. Ed Moloney (Ed) is interviewed both on tape and live.
Seamus McKee (SMc): Let’s go to Boston. The appeal to block the hand-over of secretly recorded interviews with former IRA members is just finished. The PSNI’s attempting to get an American university to hand-over transcripts of the interviews conducted as part of The Belfast Oral History Project. Andy Martin’s outside that court room in Boston. What happened in court, Andy?
Andy Martin (AM): Well I have to say, Seamus, that the Attorney General’s representative who is trying to obtain the Dolours Price (interview) on behalf of the PSNI got a hard time from three federal court judges. Ed Moloney has just emerged from the court, he was the director of this project; he was the person behind it, the writer and journalist obviously, who dealt with a lot of security issues in Northern Ireland over the years. He’s making a statement to the press at the moment.
I can tell you that Anthony McIntyre, Dr. Anthony McIntyre, who was the lead researcher in terms of those Republicans who were interviewed as part of this project, his wife emerged from the court in tears. She said that she was delighted. She thought the argument had gone exceptionally well.
And I have to say that was reflected in what happened during the proceedings today.
The attorney on behalf of the researchers put forward his case; he was questioned once or twice by the three judges. And then the Attorney General’s representative stood up. She made her case and she was questioned at length by the judges; some of whom didn’t seem to be shy about showing that they didn’t appear to agree with what she was saying. The basis of the case of the researchers is very much that they feel that their lives will be at risk if the tape recorded with Dolours Price is handed over to the British authorities and to the PSNI.
They say they will be branded thereafter as informers as having handed over information relating to the IRA and that their lives and their families’ lives are in severe danger.
SMc: Andy, I believe that you have Ed Moloney with you.
AM: He’s just doing a press conference at the moment. Although, if possible, I would like to play you a clip of what he told me yesterday. Interestingly, throughout this case it has seemed almost inconceivable that this interview could lead to any prosecution. The Dolours Price interview is important because she was a close associate of Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, she was a friend of his. And she spoke apparently to the Boston College about Gerry Adams’ role, that she alleged in the IRA, something that Gerry Adams has refuted strenuously. She said she has taken part, apparently she said to a newspaper, that she had taken part in the disappeared ; that was the abduction, murder and secret burial of nine people by the IRA and she said that Gerry Adams had been her Commanding Officer. That is why the PSNI are so keen to get her recorded interview.
Now I asked Ed Moloney yesterday where this case was going, what the possible outcomes would be and I put it to him that it was virtually inconceivable that there would be any political will to prosecute Gerry Adams and this is what he had to say:
Ed Moloney (EM): (on tape from yesterday) Well, one of the outcomes will be that, one way or another, I think it’s very likely that Gerry Adams will end up in a court, somewhere. Whether this (will) be a criminal court or a civil court….I don’t know. I suspect it would be the latter rather than the former. I don’t think that criminal charges be sustained on the basis of what is know in the public arena about this case. But the civil case is very certainly a possibility.
The family of Jean McConville have already announced, they announced way back in February of 2010, that they would try to sue Gerry Adams in a civil case.
If the police get hold of this material they are morally obliged, as they were in the Omagh case, to hand over this material to a family in that situation so that they could use it in a court case. And PSNI people will have to give evidence in court about it.
The standard of proof in a civil case is much lower than in a criminal case and I think it will be very tempting for people who have no time for Gerry Adams to go down that road.
SMc: That was Ed Moloney speaking yesterday. Thanks, Andy and we hope to hear from live from Ed Moloney a little later.
SMc: And we’ll have more sports very shortly meantime, we’re back in Boston where the appeal to block the hand-over of secretly recorded interviews with former IRA members has just finished. The journalist Ed Moloney is outside the courthouse. Good Evening!
EM: Good Evening Seamus. How are you?
SMc: I’m well. How do you think this went?
Ed: It was a very interesting day. Our attorney, Eamonn Dornan, who’s from Castlewellan incidentally, put in a magnificent performance; asked only one or two questions by the judges. When it came to the US Attorney’s turn to give her presentation to the court she was peppered with questions, sometimes quite skeptical questions, by the judges throughout the entirety of her presentation. In some ways it was quite astonishing to see this happen.
It has raised our hopes but we’re also trying to be very cautious about this because events inside a court room don’t necessarily indicate what their final verdict is going to be.
Put it this way: we came out of that court room, most of us, with smiles on our faces.
SMc: What argument was the Attorney General making?
EM: Basically that it was justified that we, that is myself and researcher Anthony McIntyre, had been turned down by the lower court here in Boston, in our attempt to represent ourselves separately from Boston College, who, if I can remind your listeners, have actually effectively withdrawn from this case and decided not to appeal the substantive judgment against them which was to hand-over the interviews.
We intervened at that point.
And her basic case was just a repetition of what the US Attorney’s office has been saying all along which is that the lower court judge said this therefore it’s okay.
But judging by the questions that were coming from the bench, I don’t think the judges were entirely convinced by that.
SMc: What questions did they have?
EM: They were asking questions like…one of the arguments that’s been put forward by the US Attorney’s office is that Boston College adequately represented our interests. The one question that actually brought a ripple of laughter in the court room came from one judge, one of the appeal judges, who said: Well, in that case, if Boston College adequately represented the interests of Mr. Moloney and Mr McIntyre, why aren’t they in the court room here today in this appeal?
And the government attorney really didn’t have much of an answer for that.
SMc: Ed Moloney, in Boston. Thank you very much