‘Secret’ records of IRA bomber Dolours Price to be released
Dolours Price claimed that the Sinn Féin politician Gerry Adams was in charge of an IRA unit
Alexandra Frean in Washington
The Times (London)
April 16 2013
The US Supreme Court has cleared the way for police in Northern Ireland to be given taped interviews carried out with Dolours Price, a convicted IRA bomber.
Price, who died in January, was interviewed by academics as part of the Belfast Project at Boston College in Massachusetts, which was designed to create an oral history of Northern Ireland’s Troubles.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland has been attempting to secure the taped interviews as part of its investigation into the kidnapping and killing by the IRA of Jean McConville in 1972, a mother of ten whom the terrorists believed was a British Army informer.
Price, a former hunger striker and wife of the actor Stephen Rea, was one of 28 former loyalist and republican paramilitaries who gave taped interviews to the Belfast Project, on the understanding that the tapes would not be released until after their death.
She was convicted for her part in a car bombing of the Old Bailey in 1973, which injured 200. In a newspaper interview in 2010 — given long after she spoke to researchers for the Belfast Project — she claimed that the Sinn Féin politician Gerry Adams was in charge of an IRA unit and gave the order for the Old Bailey bombing. Mr Adams has always denied being a member of the IRA.
Last October, before Price died, the journalist Ed Moloney and former IRA member Anthony McIntyre, two of the leading figures behind the Belfast Project, attempted to block the handover of the tapes to the police in Northern Ireland. Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling means that the tapes, which are being held by the Department of Justice, can now be released.
Jack Dunn, a spokesman for Boston College, which was not a party to yesterday’s Supreme Court case, said that the college was in the process of challenging another subpoena to hand over to Northern Irish police seven different interview tapes also deemed to be relevant to the McConville murder. That case is to be heard before the US First Circuit Court of Appeal.
At issue in both cases are the limits of confidentiality agreements when pitted against an active criminal investigation, the college said.
Mr Dunn added: “We have asked the courts to balance our interest in protecting oral history and academic research against the interests of the US Government in upholding a treaty obligation to provide legal assistance to Great Britain.”
In prison, Price staged a 203-day hunger strike when she was force-fed every day. She was released from prison on humanitarian grounds in 1981 after serving seven years of a life sentence, suffering tuberculosis.
In media interviews, Price said she went through years of depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder.