Transcript: Belfast Project Director Ed Moloney updates Radio Free Eireann on Boston College case
Radio Free Éireann
99.5 FM WBAI Pacifica Radio
New York City
Saturday 14 July 2012
John McDonagh (JM) and Sandy Boyer (SB) speak to Ed Moloney (EM), the former Director of The Belfast Project, who provides updates on the court case concerning the subpoenas issued to Boston College for the archive.
(1:55 PM EST)
John McDonagh (JM): …But because this topic is so important and it’s going to affect all the universities throughout the United States and probably throughout the United Kingdom and in The Twenty-six Counties that we want to head to Ed Moloney and get the latest update about the tapes that we’ve been covering here, the tapes of IRA Volunteers and Loyalist paramilitaries, that were taped and not to be released until their death. And we have the Police Service of Northern Ireland subpoenaing Boston College and trying to get these tapes off Boston College. And Ed, we thank you for coming on and maybe you can give us the latest update at two o’clock here in New York City on WBAI 99.5 FM on Radio Free Éireann.
Ed Moloney (EM): Hello, John.
Sandy Boyer (SB): Yeah…this is Sandy.
EM: Hi, Sandy.
SB: So Ed, this week of course the court of appeals handed down their ruling at long last. Can you tell us what that ruling was?
EM: We had applied to intervene in the case, that is myself and Anthony McIntyre, to do so separately from Boston College and that was essentially because Boston College had given up this fight when they lost their case at the lowest level, district court appeal level, we expected, given the importance of the issue: first of all, to Boston College itself, in the sense that this was a research project…
(Ed Note: the archive of this interview stops here 1:58 PM EST)
(Ed Note: the archive of this interview resumes here 2:00 PM EST)
EM: does put life at risk, the life of the researcher, Anthony McIntyre, and also those who took part in it.
We tried to put forward exactly the same argument here in the US under the Fifth Amendment and that was rejected by the appeal court in Boston straightaway. And in fact, there’s no real sort of explicit equivalent to that constitutional protection that Europe now provides.
And the case law is fairly encouraging. Suzanne Breen, a journalist in Belfast who was on the receiving end of something very similar from the PSNI, and the PSNI is building up a track record for intruding on the rights of journalists, and the media and academics at an atrocious rate, they were knocked out of the court by that judgment which Suzanne won on the same grounds that we are bringing, if we have to, in the Belfast courts which is that the PSNI action would endanger her life, we’re also going to argue exactly the same.
SB: Even though this was a very disappointing judgment there was there something positive in the ruling.
EM: There was indeed and something I think is probably unprecedented although I’ll defer to you guys because you know the situation here better than I do and what the judicial track record has been over the years.
But one of the judges, a Puerto Rican judge, which is probably not un-coincidental, a guy called Juan Torruella, issued what I suppose you’d could call a partial dissent in the sense that he didn’t approve of the reasoning of the court but felt that because the Supreme Court had pronounced on this before that he felt he had to go along with the judgment.
But in the course of his judgment he addressed a very central issue that we had put forward in our case which is that the Attorney General Eric Holder under this treaty between the US and UK that enables this type of action to happen there is a clause which says that if the Attorney General is satisfied that what’s at stake is a political offence then he can block the judgment. And Holder has refused to do that.
We had argued that there was no evidence in any of the documentation that he had done what the law says he should do, which is at least address that issue – he hadn’t even done that – but this judge came forward – and he said – and I don’t think any American judge has ever said this before but I’ll stand ready for correction – he said that there’s absolutely no doubt that what was going on in Northern Ireland was a political struggle and it was due to the fact that the country had been partitioned and that there was the political struggle for reunification of the island.
It’s so obvious that this is the case it’s undeniable. And that Eric Holder then has the power to withdraw these subpoenas on that basis.
But unfortunately ourselves, as individuals, are expressly forbidden under the terms of this treaty from making that point ourselves.
So what you have here now is the situation where one of the judges has said very explicitly: this is a political offence.
The Attorney General Eric Holder could now take shelter behind that judgment and order these subpoenas stopped.
And Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, could petition him to do exactly that.
So any sort of excuse that existed before either that well, this is under the courts and etc etc has now gone and certainly the Judge has given Holder and Hillary Clinton the legal cover to take this sort of action.
And obviously we hope that that will happen but whether that happens or not to a large extent depends on the pressure that Irish-America can exert on these politicians in what is, after all, an election year.
SB: So surprise! Surprise! What it comes down to is a political question and we have have to pressure our representatives to do something about this.
EM: Yes. So our appeal very much is to Irish-America to contact the Department of Justice, contact Hillary Clinton, point out this judgment and say the way is now open for this action by the PSNI, which is a very suspect action, I won’t go into all the details but it raises lots of very dark questions about the motivation and the methodology involved here, that this action can be stopped by the American government quite easily now.
SB: Ed, thank you for that update. Unfortunately, we’re a little short of time as were raising money for WBAI today. And we won’t be back until August so again, I’m sure at that time you will be back and we’ll be getting another update from you.
EM: Okay. Thank you. No problem. Bye-bye, Sandy.
(Ends 2:08PM EST)