Former IRA prisoner dubious about re-opening inquiries

Former IRA prisoner dubious about re-opening inquiries
Tommy McKearney has accused academics at Boston College of a breach of trust regarding taped interviews they have been ordered to hand over to the authorities
Tyrone Herald
July 16, 2012

FORMER Tyrone hunger striker and IRA man Tommy McKearney has accused academics at Boston College of a breach of trust regarding taped interviews they have been ordered to hand over to the authorities.

Speaking to the Tyrone Herald McKearney was also scathing of the decision to convict Dungannon man Gerry McGeough for the attempted murder of part-time UDR man Sammy Brush from Ballygawley 31 years ago in 1981.

McGeough was sentenced to 20 years in jail and is expected to be released in January 2013, having served two years under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr McKearney who works as a freelance journalist and is an organiser for the Independent Workers Union of Ireland said, “The idea of revisiting the conflict to try and single out individuals is wrong. Either the conflict is over or it’s not; one or two people cannot be victimised.”

His comments come after the US appeal court ruled that an interview with the former Old Bailey bomber Dolores Price should be handed to police investigating the murder of Jean McConville. Mrs McConville (37), a widow and mother of ten, was abducted by members of the IRA in Belfast and killed as an informer. Her body wasn’t found until 2003.

The Boston project involved up to 30 interviews with former paramilitary activists conducted on the basis of assurances from journalists Ed Maloney and former IRA prisoner Anthony McIntyre that none of the recorded material would be made public during the lifetimes of the interviewees.

Mr McKearney is a close friend of Anthony McIntyre having been in prison together and worked with him in publishing left wing magazine ‘Forthright’ in 2000.

He said, “Ed Maloney and Anthony were given an absolute guarantee by the Boston academics that the tapes would be held in confidence. The academics have not shown the integrity of journalists who were prepared to go to jail rather than reveal information or sources. There is no real legal protection but if the police asked a reporter for notes they would refuse and state that handing them over would be a violation of their ethics. Suzanne Breen and Ed Maloney were prepared to go to jail for this principle.”

The former blanket man revealed that he has refused interviews with academics because of the actions of the Boston researchers.

He added, “Anthony expected the same professional standard in the USA as I believe academics in Ireland or Britain would have shown. I am not sure his life is in danger. I hope not but you can never tell what one deranged individual can take onto himself to do.”

Mr McKearney also doubts that remarks attributed to Dolores Price would “get through the doors of a courtroom” because of her highly publicised mental health issues while IRA man [Brendan] Hughes, who also spoke on tape, is deceased and could not be cross-examined in a witness box.

He is also dubious of revisiting unsolved investigations from the ‘Troubles’ and that includes the murder inquiry into Bloody Sunday when 14 people were shot dead by British Army in Derry in 1970.


“There can’t be a victimisation of one or two people as in the case of Gerry McGeough. To pick out one or two soldiers on the day in Derry would be a travesty of justice as the real culprits who ordered the killings are at the top of government. We will never see them held responsible and it is a very selective form of revisiting the past. You have to get everybody or take nobody.”