Catching Up with Carrie Twomey…The Battle to Quash Subpoenas in Boston and Belfast

Catching Up with Carrie Twomey…The Battle to Quash Subpoenas in Boston and Belfast
August 31, 2012
By Sabina Clarke
Irish Edition

Recently I caught up with Carrie Twomey, safely ensconced with her husband Dr. Anthony McIntyre and children in County Louth, Ireland.

McIntyre, who conducted interviews with former IRA members in the Boston College oral history project documenting ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland and Belfast Project Director Ed Moloney, are in the eye of the storm in the Boston College tapes stand-off between the appellants and the U.S. Attorney General.

My initial interview with Carrie was several months ago when she had a stopover in Philadelphia after returning from Washington, D.C. where she met with congressmen and Senators to enlist their aid in averting the handover of the tapes to the British Government. Then she was off to Boston for more meetings.

Twomey is astute, articulate and knowledgeable about the intricacies, legalities and politics of the challenges facing her husband and Ed Moloney and the possible negative ramifications for the peace process if the Boston College tapes are released to the British Government’s Historical Enquiries Team (HET).

And as a wife and mother, she is understandably concerned about the physical safety of her husband and her children -— aware that anyone labeled a ‘tout’ or informer can be targeted by the Irish Republican ArmyThe IRA. She talked about the latest developments in the case that goes back to May 2011 when the initial subpoena was served.

SC: Let’s go back to the very beginning of all this when the first subpoena was served.

CT: The first subpoena was served in May 2011 after ex –IRA member Dolours Price gave an interview to The Irish News here. At the time Dolours was in the hospital. Her family was upset with what she said in the interview so The Irish News did not print the entire unabridged interview. The reporter for The Irish News was annoyed and then gave the interview to the The Sunday Life, a tabloid paper here; and the tabloid ran the entire interview. To protect the reporter, the tabloid mentioned the Boston College tapes —- except that no one had ever heard or was privy to what was on the tapes. What is interesting is that it was about a month [after] the police here ever investigated or even went to the papers here. [The PSNI first approached TheIrish News after court papers were filed in the US seeking the quash the subpoenas]

SC: What is happening right now?

CT: On September 7th Boston College goes to court to present oral arguments appealing the second subpoena which requests all the material from seven interviews —- apart from Dolours Price’s interview. The Price interview was requested in the first subpoena that came and has not yet been turned over. The Lower Court ordered the Price archive to be turned over but that is what we are appealing. That is covered in our request for the ‘en banc’ hearing. Boston College did not appeal the first subpoena or the ruling on the first subpoena. The second subpoena came in asking for anything relating to the McConville case and the rest of the archive. The Lower Court read the entire archive and determined that there were seven interviews that responded to the second subpoena and should be turned over. This determination was made by Judge William Young -— the first judge in the Lower Court.

SC: As compared to Boston College, what is the difference regarding the nature of the appeals made by Boston College and the appeal made by your husband and Ed Moloney?

CT: Moloney and McIntyre are appealing the whole thing. They don’t want anything turned over. Boston College is appealing just the second subpoena.

SC: So, are all of these subpoenas specifically related to the McConville case?

CT: Yes, that’s what we believe. But we don’t know a hundred percent because both subpoenas are sealed; but from the rulings and the court papers, we do know that they relate to the McConville murder -— if they relate to anything else, we don’t have any idea.

SC: I’m surprised that Boston College is even doing this.

CT: Well, we believe the ACLU’s involvement in our case forced them to do something and from all the pressure that came on them for how badly they reacted to this. People were very unhappy with them -— so the pressure did help. So, it is good that they are appealing this.

SC: What materials were requested in the first subpoena?

CT: The first subpoena was the request for Brendan Hughes’ archive and the Dolours Price’s archive. Because Brendan Hughes had died, the conditions of his confidentiality were predicated on his death so Boston College handed that over.

SC: So the Brendan Hughes testimony can be used because he is dead.

CT: Exactly, but Dolours is still very much alive.

SC: Where does Judge Juan Toruella come in?

CT: Juan Toruella is one of the three judges on the Appeals Court that was heard back in April. He did not call the requests for the subpoenas political but did remark that the subpoenas are connected to a crime that is political in nature since it derived from the conflict in Northern Ireland over the existence of partition. I believe this may be the first time a Federal Court judge has saidThe Troubles in Northern Ireland were political. So, he offered a window for the U.S. government to reject the British subpoenas if the offences are deemed to be political.

SC: His statement gave Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a reason to reject the subpoenas.

CT: Yes, he realized the political significance of the case. Whether or not they do, is really up to pressure exerted by Irish America.

SC: What is happening with Dolours Price? She would never testify would she?

CT: I don’t think so.

SC: What is the mood in the Irish Parliament; is there any change as far as their position to just let the process evolve on its own?

CT: They have been in recess for the summer but I fully intend, when they are back from summer recess, to fully engage with different members of the Irish Parliament to work on this issue.

SC: Is there anything in the papers in Ireland about this?

CT: When there is some movement; I understand that there is an article coming out in the next couple of weeks because of the rehearing request that we have made. Also, because we will be in the Belfast Court on the 14th of September. So, that will be news in Belfast. Generally, when the case slows down and there is no movement, there is not going to be any media. We had very good coverage on PBS News Hour this week; you can view it online. They did a 10 minute segment which will generate more interest in the case.

SC: How did the PBS piece happen?

CT: A reporter who was following the July marches here had heard of the case and decided to interview us also. There is also a very interesting story about the current political situation in economic terms -— it is the second lead story on the Boston College website. It was reported in the Financial Times under Report on Northern Ireland… and it is also carried on WNYC radio.

SC: Are the Irish groups making any impact with their lobbying and joint statements?

CT: I think they are. About a month ago, they had a second meeting at the State Department’s request, which was a good sign. They have so far generated 20 letters from different congress people. We have very strong support from Senator Kerry’s office which is crucial. They have not flagged; they are keeping up the pressure. This is a marathon campaign and the Irish American groups are still running hard which is very very good.

SC: I have noticed that people in Ireland and some former IRA members who, like your husband, broke with Gerry Adams over the peace process, and the author Richard O’Rawe who also doesn’t agree with Sinn Fein’s strategy in the peace process, are still of the opinion that the tapes should not be handed over to Britain.

CT: That is true; Richard O’Rawe would not be supportive of the tapes being turned over. I think that turning the tapes over would have a hugely destabilizing effect on the peace process. Instead of having a truth commission, we could end with having a constant parade of court cases against people who are in prominent positions. It can only undermine people’s confidence in the peace process. It will certainly not support it. There is a big difference between a truth process and a prosecution process.

SC: Perhaps something like the South African model of truth and reconciliation

CT: It doesn’t have to be exactly like the South African model but we do need to come to some way of addressing the past. The prosecutorial model is not going to be the way to do it simply because it was contracted in The Good Friday Agreement that we are going to overlook the crimes of the past and look to the future. Now, almost 20 years later, they cannot decide that we are going to declare war crimes against Martin McGuinness, the North’s deputy First Minister.

SC: I think Sinn Fein has been pretty much silent on the Boston College tapes issue

CT: Yes, except for the fact that Martin McGuinness made a very good statement about how this is destabilizing for the peace process.

SC: Is there much talk, where you are, about this?

CT: Well, Anthony will be presenting a paper here in Clare at the end of September. In circles that are interested in both history and Northern politics, definitely, it is a very hot issue.

SC: How do you feel now with what is going on compared to how you felt several months ago?

CT: I don’t know. This is a marathon rather than a sprint and I don’t see any real end in sight. It is the day to day living with fear.

SC: Do you really live in fear every day?

CT: Yeah, yeah.

SC: Have you had any kind of intimidation?

CT: No, but every so often you’ll hear people saying this and that. And the house next door to us had excrement smeared on their mailbox and car -— perhaps mistaking the home for ours.

SC: Are you thinking of coming back to the U.S, again?

CT: I was hoping to be there in the Boston court on September 7th for the arguments presented by Boston College but financially, we can’t do it. We are still paying off the credit card debt from my last trip to the U.S.