College only has to hand over interview segments

College only has to hand over interview segments
Claire Simpson

This ruling represents a significant victory for Boston College in its defence of these oral history materials – Boston College statement

A US college behind a landmark Troubles project only has to give the PSNI segments of interviews with former IRA members, following a court ruling.

The US Court of Appeals said Boston College should hand over only tapes and transcripts that are directly relevant to the investigation into the 1972 disappearance of Jean McConville.

The judgment means that of 85 interviews with former IRA members, the college has to release 11 relevant segments.

Dozens of recordings were made as part of confidential interviews with former IRA members and loyalists in the Boston College-based Belfast Project, between 2001 and 2006.

The PSNI has demanded tapes and transcripts of some of the interviews because they believe they may contain details about the murder and abduction of one of the Disappeared, Belfast mother-of-10 Mrs McConville.

One of the former IRA members interviewed was Old Bailey bomber Dolours Price, who died in January.

Price and another former IRA member, the late Brendan Hughes, have claimed that Mrs McConville’s murder and burial were ordered by Gerry Adams, now Sinn Fein President.

The Sinn Fein TD has repeatedly denied the allegations.

In a statement released yesterday, the college said it was satisfied by the Court of Appeals ruling on Friday. “We are pleased with the Appeals Court ruling that affirms our contention that the District Court erred in ordering the production of 74 interviews that were not relevant to the subpoena,” it said.

“This ruling represents a significant victory for Boston College in its defence of these oral history materials.”

In a joint statement, Belfast Project researchers Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre also welcomed the ruling.

“The court instead said that only interviews that deal directly with the disappearance of Jean McConville can be handed over as opposed to the indiscriminate consignment of the entire contents of interviews with eight of our interviewees. We see this judgment as at least a partial indictment of the whole process,” it said.

“Doubtless elements in the security apparatus in Northern Ireland and their allies in Britain were looking forward to a show trial in which almost the entire panoply of IRA violence during the Troubles would be the subject of proceedings in a Belfast courtroom.

“Now, that is not going to happen and to be sure there will be disappointment in these circles.”