Dolours Price tape handed over to police
Will Pavia, New York
Times of London
8 July 2013
Tapes of interviews with an IRA car bomber that were conducted as part of an oral history project and kept locked in a Boston university archive have been handed over to detectives investigating the murder of Jean McConville, a mother of ten who was shot by paramilitaries in 1972.
The interviews contain potentially explosive claims made by Dolours Price, an IRA member who was convicted and jailed for a car bombing of the Old Bailey and who died in January. Though she consistently refused to cooperate with the police, she repeatedly claimed in interviews with journalists that she was the driver in the killing of Mrs McConville and that the murder was ordered by Gerry Adams.
She participated in taped interviews with oral historians seeking to document the Troubles, on the understanding that the tapes would be kept locked in the archives of Boston College, beyond the reach of the authorities, until after her death.
Mrs McConville’s son, Michael, told the Irish Mail on Sunday: “If Price mentions Gerry Adams in the tapes, that he was in some way involved and if it can be proved, he should be tried.”
For his part, Mr Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, has always denied that he ever belonged to the IRA or that he had any involvement in terrorist murders.
Yesterday the Police Service of Northern Ireland said two detectives from its serious crime branch had travelled to take possession of the tapes as part of their investigation into the murder of Mrs McConville.
The journalist Ed Moloney and the former IRA member Anthony McIntyre, the leading researchers behind the Belfast Project, had believed their work would remain beyond the reach of the police until after the deaths of the interviewees.
However, in late 2011, Boston College submitted to an order from a judge to hand over the tapes to police in Northern Ireland under the terms of a treaty obligation.
The researchers sought to challenge the ruling in the American courts, warning that the release of the tapes could have serious repercussions for both the peace process and the personal safety of Mr McIntyre.
“I carried out the interviews in circumstances of the greatest secrecy and confidence,” he said last year. His wife said she now lived in “constant fear… of him being shot in the street”.
Earlier this year the Supreme Court cleared the way for the tapes to be handed over to the police. However, last month a federal appeals court in Boston ruled that only 11 of the 85 interviews were relevant to the police investigation and needed to be surrendered – a decision that may yet itself be appealed.
“They have only handed over the Dolours Price tapes,” Mr Moloney said yesterday. “The rest of the tapes have not been handed over.”
After Ms Price died in January, the university was apparently free to hand over her interviews, although Mr Moloney said: “There was no obligation to make them available.”
He added: “It’s none of their damn business. This is a private archive. It’s being looked for by a police force whose Historical Enquiries Team, which is also run by the PSNI, has been found by the British Inspectorate of Constabulary to be operating double standards. They are treating killings committed by security forces in a much more relaxed and lenient way.”