Researcher says he is prepared to go to jail to protect interviewee confidentiality

Researcher says he is prepared to go to jail to protect interviewee confidentiality
The Irish Times
Monday, October 1, 2012

A former member of the IRA who is now a writer has told a conference he is willing to go jail to protect sources he interviewed as part of Boston College’s Belfast Project.

At the second annual Oral History Network of Ireland conference in Ennis on Saturday, Anthony McIntyre told delegates that if someone who played a role in the Northern Ireland conflict came to him now to tell their story, “I wouldn’t take it, as I can’t guarantee that I can protect my sources.”

Mr McIntyre and journalist Ed Moloney are involved in legal actions in the US and Northern Ireland to prevent the Police Service of Northern Ireland obtaining tapes of interviews they conducted with combatants in the conflict.

They carried out the interviews for Boston College in the US.

The PSNI is seeking access to all recordings Mr McIntyre carried out with Dolours Price as part of PSNI investigations into the 1972 murder of Jean McConville, one of the so-called “disappeared”.

Mr McIntyre said the PSNI obtaining the recordings would place his life in danger.

Mr McIntyre and Mr Moloney promised the interviewees confidentiality until the interviewees had either consented to publication or died.

Mr McIntyre told the conference: “The individual researcher has to step up to the plate and be prepared to face imprisonment other than to allow their sources be compromised. It could well result that I could end up going to prison for refusing to assist in any way in any investigation that results from this, but that is a price that we have to pay.”

Supreme Court Blocks BC Tape Handover

Supreme Court Blocks BC Tape Handover
Irish American News
1 October 2012

United States Supreme Court Justice Richard Breyer has today granted a temporary stay on the handover of interviews from the Belfast Project at Boston College to the Police Service of Northern Ireland. The stay will be in place until at least October 11th, when the US government, which facilitated the subpoenas, is due to formally respond to an application from Eamonn Dornan, JJ Cotter and Jonathan Albano, attorneys for Belfast Project researchers Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, that the handover be stayed until the Supreme Court decides whether to hold a full hearing on the case.

In an affidavit sworn to on September 14th in Belfast High Court, Ed Moloney, Project Director of the Boston College Belfast Oral History Project, for the first time revealed, under oath, that there is absolutely no mention of Jean McConville in Dr. Anthony McIntyre’s interview with former IRA activist Dolours Price.

And it was for the purpose of investigating the murder of McConville a suspected informant on the IRA, that the Boston College subpoenas instituted by the UK on behalf of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, PSNI, were based.

Cloaked in the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, MLAT, between the US and the UK., the subpoenas sought, among other things, the interviews of Dolours Price relating to McConville’s murder; a 40 year-old murder that was never investigated after it happened and has lain dormant for years.

Since last weekend, the British based Sunday Telegraph newspaper and CBS TV news implied or suggested that admissions by Dolours Price to them of involvement in the McConville disappearance were also made in her interviews for the Boston College Belfast Project. There was a similar claim, made two years ago, that this admission was presumed in Dolours Price’s Belfast project interviews that began this saga of the Boston College subpoenas. Both claims are false.

In a vigorous effort to protect Americans’ First Amendment rights; the integrity of future academic research; and the confidentiality and safety of the Belfast Project interviewees , including the personal safety of Lead IRA researcher Dr. Anthony McIntyre who lives in Ireland and is at great risk— both Project Director Ed Moloney and Dr. Antony McIntyre are fighting to have the subpoenas dismissed in the courts on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Sunday Telegraph/CBS reports conflict with and contradict Moloney’s affidavit lodged in the Belfast High Court which stated that the McConville disappearance was not mentioned in those interviews. Consequently, the rationale on which the Boston College subpoenas are based is flawed.

Fallout from the Boston College subpoenas saga has already resulted in destabilizing the US brokered Northern Ireland Peace Process with accusations and calls for resignations from both sides of the table as well as the compromising of future academic research, and the real threat to Americans’ First Amendment rights.

The burning question is why the PSNI did not pursue resources closer to home in their investigation rather than attempting to raid the Boston College archive, thereby infringing on Americans’ First Amendment rights and placing Dr. McIntyre’s life in peril and his family in danger.

The Belfast Project archive should remain confidential without any prejudice to law enforcement inquiries.