Dealing with the past? The devil will be in the details

Dealing with the past? The devil will be in the details
Newton Emerson
Sunday Times
30 March 2014

The Boston College tapes make a mockery of all high-blown talk about “dealing with the past”. The idea that a formal process of investigation, truth recovery and historical assessment into 3,700 Troubles deaths could work at all, let alone satisfy all sides, looks absurd given the saga over one 42-year-old case.

For Sinn Fein the problem is specific to the Boston College oral-history project, which involved interviewing 85 republican and loyalist ex-paramilitaries, on the understanding that the recordings would be sealed until their deaths. “This project originated with Paul Bew, an adviser to David Trimble, and was taken up by Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre who conducted the interviews,” Gerry Adams said last week. “Both are vitriolic critics and opponents of the Sinn Fein peace strategy, of me in particular, and of Sinn Fein and its leadership.”

However, this implication of biased intent and selection is irrelevant. When the PSNI began investigating the 1972 abduction, murder and disappearance of Jean McConville, it subpoenaed 11 of the Boston interviews, while the subsequent prosecution is thought to involve using only one, that of Ivor Bell. So unless Sinn Fein imagines excluding every off-message republican, even a complete archive of Troubles testimony compiled by a “balanced” team would contain material of an identical nature. Like the Bloody Sunday inquiry, a formal process would almost certainly include a proviso that testimony could not be used to prosecute interviewees or those they might accuse.

Sinn Fein has been deeply critical of the professionalism of the Boston College project because those involved apparently believed, wrongly as it transpired, that academics can “seal” records from criminal investigation. However, the McConville case shows this is beside the point. The PSNI began its murder inquiry only after Boston College interviewee Dolours Price gave entirely separate interviews to a wide range of media outlets, in which she confessed to involvement in McConville’s abduction and claimed Adams had ordered it.

Does anyone imagine a formal process would never “leak” in this manner? How could such leakage be prevented? Price, who died last year, appeared motivated to confess by the publication of Belfast IRA commander Brendan Hughes’s Boston testimony after his death. It transpired that while she spoke about McConville to journalists, her Boston interview did not mention the abducted mother of 10.

Would a formal process, encompassing thousands of cases, not provoke a far greater torrent of unscheduled revelations? How would the legal and political blowback not derail a formal process, as it has done to the Boston project?

Behind the McConville case stand the McConville family, who support the police and the prosecution fully. McConville’s daughter has insisted on having a day in court. This basic desire cannot be ignored by what is supposed to be a “victim- centred” approach. The only way to stop a formal process sparking off countless criminal and civil prosecutions is for it to be accompanied by a general Troubles amnesty, plus a change in the law on the statute of limitations for civil cases.

Legally, this is just about possible if the process meets the Human Rights Act requirement to investigate all killings. However, the furious reaction across the board when Northern Ireland’s attorney general discussed it last November, as well as the fallout from the on-the-runs scandal, has rendered an amnesty politically impossible.

To appreciate the impossibility of the formal process’s ambition, you must not only multiply the McConville case by 3,700 but add the burden of historical “themes”. The introduction of themes arose in the Richard Haass talks from a republican demand to produce an official verdict on loyalist-British state collusion. Unionists then proposed their own themes, which included IRA-Irish state collusion, alleged IRA “ethnic cleansing” along the border and “any policy behind the Disappeared”.

All the themes of the Troubles turn on disputed details, of which there are literally millions. Even if Northern Ireland were cohesive enough to produce an official history, it could never pronounce a final verdict on “themes”.

If we really took a historical perspective, we would see that an organic process of dealing with the past is already under way. It consists of the unpredictable interplay of events and individuals as they pursue justice through imperfect institutions, slowly uncovering stories, changing attitudes and embarrassing the great and the good — and the bad.

Media and public attention will by necessity focus on a small number of cases at a time, making their prominence essentially random, before their impact is digested and the spotlight moves on. The historical debate will never end, and the only final verdicts will be the handful reached in court.

The trite hope of “dealing with the past” merits only a trite conclusion. The past will be dealt with by the untidy present, until the future no longer cares.

TRANSCRIPT: Belfast Media’s Abysmal Reporting

TRANSCRIPT: Belfast Media’s Abysmal Reporting
Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
29 March 2014

John McDonagh (JM) and Sandy Boyer (SB) interview author, journalist and former director of The Belfast Project Ed Moloney (EM) about the Boston College tapes.

(begins time stamp 31:58)

SB: We’re talking to Ed Moloney, the author of Voices From the Grave (and) A Secret History of the IRA. And Ed was the director of what was called The Belfast Project. It was a unique oral history of The Troubles speaking to people from the Provisional IRA and the Ulster Volunteer Force who actually did the fighting.

And now, if you are a regular listener to the show you know, those tapes were handed over the the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and now they’ve been used to charge Ivor Bell, former Chief-of-Staff of the Irish Republican Army, with aiding and abetting the murder of Jean McConville. Ed, thanks for being with us and what can you tell us about that?

EM: Which bit, Sandy? There’s a lot there.

SB: About the use of the tapes from the project you directed to charge Ivor Bell.

EM: First of all there is no evidence that this is Ivor Bell that was interviewed.

As I understand it one of the reasons why the police have let it be known that they want to question Anthony McIntyre, the interviewer, is to provide evidence about the identity of someone who’s only known in court as “Z”, “Interviewee Z”.

And they’ve also let it be known that if they do proceed to trial on this they will identify the person “Z” by what they call “the jigsaw method”.   I’m not exactly sure what that means.

But there is no confirmation, believe it or not, despite all the media reports that this is actually Ivor Bell that is featured in this interview at the center of this court case. So that’s point number one. And that should be borne in mind.

There’s a great deal sloppy journalism and reporting about this case and that has to be up there at the top of the list I think.

SB: And what tapes were actually handed over the the Police Service of Northern Ireland?   Was it all the tapes from The Belfast Project?

EM: No, no, no, no indeed. As you said in your introduction that the Boston College tapes were handed over as if all them were handed over.

My estimate is that maybe two to three percent of the archive has actually been handed over to the PSNI. A very small fraction – much, much less than the PSNI were actually seeking in the first place and a very, very small number of interviews. I mean, if the police had been trying to get say all of a person’s interviews that they gave to the Boston College (archive) they were refused that.

They were only allowed interviews which actually made mention of the Jean McConville case or associated elements of it and that dramatically reduced the number of interviews that were actually handed over.

So again, I was watching news reports in Belfast during the week which were saying that the PSNI now have full access to Boston College archives. Nothing could be further from the truth. They’ve got as I said my estimate is about two to three percent – very small number – eleven in total – and that is very small.

JM: Ed, you were speaking about how it was covered over in Ireland. We’re going to go to two clips now: ne from Ulster Television and the other from RTÉ and this is how they covered it.

(Audio clip of two news broadcasts by UTV Reporter Sharon O’Neill and RTE Northern Editor Tommie Gorman)

JM: And that was two news clips about how it’s being reported over there.

Also Ed, what’s coming out now is how Sinn Féin is going on the attack, particularly of you and Anthony McIntyre, calling the Boston tapes a “touting programme” on one hand and then Gerry Adams issuing statements that if anyone has any information on the killing of Jean McConville to please come forward to the PSNI.

So, they want it both ways.

EM: So what’s your question, John? I don’t quite follow you.

JM: How did you perceive the two clips there? Were they accurate? And Gerry Adams’ hypocrisy on telling people to come forward and then criticising the tapes themselves.

EM: Both of those reports were just so full of inaccuracies that it highlights exactly what I’m talking about here.

In Belfast at the moment we do not have a fully functioning media.

First of all, Paul Bew’s involvement in this project, which is now being highlighted by Gerry Adams, was marginal. He was a message boy from Boston College to a number of people in Belfast back in 2000- 2001.

If anyone had any ideas for projects or things that Boston College could do commemorate the peace process – to record The Troubles – Paul Bew would pass on their ideas to Boson College and we were one of the ideas that was put forth.

So his role is marginal but is being played up by Gerry Adams because he was also at one stage advisor to David Trimball so he’s trying to make this appear to be a Unionist plot of some sort which it is absolutely not.

Secondly, I was never an interviewer. I coordinated the project. The interviews were conducted on the Republican side by Anthony McIntyre and on the Loyalist side by Wilson MacArthur. So again, another inaccuracy.

And Sharon O’ Neill, the UTV person, is the one I was referring to who said that The Belfast Project, the archives at Boston College, that the PSNI now have full access to them.

I rang her up and I said: Sharon, that is not true and I repeated to her what I just repeated to you, that they got a very tiny percentage of the reports.

And she said: Oh, terribly sorry, Ed, it was because it was a live report. In other words when you go on live reports for UTV and you’re the Justice Correspondent you’re apparently allowed to say the first thing that comes into your mind and accuracy is a second option as far as people like that are concerned.

And this is part of the problem. You’re getting just absolute rubbish journalism covering this story.

If this was the United States of America and it was happening by this stage, for example, The New York Times and The Washington Post – I would certainly hope and I think they probably would – would have had a team working on the story:

Is it possible to get a conviction?

Would a case like this even go trial on the basis of the evidence that we have?

And the evidence? Let me just go through it:

We have this interview or portion of an interview, small portion of an interview from someone called “Z” who the police are claiming is Ivor Bell.

That was an interview that was not taken under caution such as most police statements have to be in order to be presented into court.

It was not a sworn statement. It was conducted by someone who was an academic researcher and not someone who was a forensic interrogator from the RUC. Or PSNI. (excuse the Freudian slip.)

There’s no supporting evidence. There’s no forensics evidence. There’s no ballistic evidence.

And most crucially of all: there is no admission by anyone, least of all “Z”, least of all whoever “Z” is, if it’s Ivor Bell or not I don’t know.

There’s not a lawyer that I have talked to in the week or so since Ivor Bell was arraigned on these charges who believes: a) that this could secure a conviction and many of them believe this won’t even go to trial.

Yet none of this is reflected in the media coverage. Not one journalist as far as I can make out has made an issue of trying to examine what are the real legal possibilities of even going to trial on something like this never mind securing a conviction.

And on the basis of that the PSNI have been allowed to present a fantastic triumph – breaking, cracking the case of Jean McConville’s disappearance – when in fact as I think events will ultimately prove – you couldn’t be further from the truth.

Now in relation to what Gerry Adams is calling for well, we’ve gone through this before. And we’ve gone through all the attacks that he has launched against Boston College and against this particular project.

I’m asking, or I’m saying this very simply:

if anyone was to conduct a serious history of the Provisional IRA during The Troubles and decided to leave out, because they have fallen out of favor, people like Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price…

…incidentally it would help if Tommie Gorman could actually pronounce her name – it’s not Dolers or Dolores – it’s Dolours. It means sadness. He couldn’t even get that basic fact right.

But if he were to try to construct a history of the Provisional IRA during The Troubles and you left those people out – Dolours Price was in charge of the first bombing team that attacked London back in 1973.

Brendan Hughes was at the side of all the Belfast Commanders from the early 70’s onward including Gerry Adams. He was the closest friend of Gerry Adams. He shared a cubicle with Gerry Adams in a hut in Long Kesh during internment.

He led the 1981 hunger strikes.

He led the debate inside Long Kesh which led to the reorganisation of the IRA in the mid and late 1970’s.

He was involved in all the major phases of the Republican struggle.

And one’s supposed to leave someone like that out because Gerry Adams doesn’t like or didn’t like Brendan Hughes’ attitude towards him and towards the peace process?

I don’t think so.

I think if you were an historian and you left those sort of people out of any attempt to chronicle the real story of the IRA you would be accused by historians of utmost bias.

We went and we sought people like Brendan Hughes because of their value and the totality of what they could contribute in terms of their knowledge of the IRA and their knowledge of the Provisional’s and their history.

And the sections in which he criticises Gerry Adams actually, when you look at the totality of these interviews, were very small indeed. The rest of it, in relation to the Gerry Adams was either neutral or in fact very pro, because he was very close to Gerry Adams and very fond of him and said many, many nice things about him as well as being critical of him.

SB: Ed, getting back to Gerry Adams: I find it very interesting that Ivor Bell is charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Jean McConville.

As far as we know Gerry Adams has not even been questioned about that. But both Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price said he gave the orders for that.

Why is it do you think he doesn’t even get questioned?

EM: I don’t know what’s happening on that particular issue, Sandy, because Gerry Adams issued that offer, if you want to call it that, to the PSNI a couple of days ago and the PSNI have been conspicuous in their silence since.

Some people have said this is a very clever move by Gerry Adams because it will force the PSNI to say “no” we don’t want to interrogate or question Gerry Adams.

But on the other hand the PSNI might consider it wiser to leave the option open and not to give him an answer at this stage. What all that is about I am not entirely sure.

But from what we know – and incidentally – the only person who has actually linked Gerry Adams to the Jean McConville disappearance in our interviews that I know of is Brendan Hughes. Everyone seems to forget this.

Dolours Price DID NOT MENTION the Jean McConville business in her interview with Anthony McIntyre.

Not once did the words “Jean” and “McConville” leave her lips!

She did not talk about her disappearance. She did not talk about the woman. She did not talk about how she was killed or anything like that.

That’s forgotten. It’s just assumed – as was assumed in those reports – none of which are based upon any research. None of those journalists bothered to ring me up, the director of this project, to ask basic, factual questions before they went on air.

I mean it’s astounding! The abysmal standard of journalism that we have in Northern Ireland these days. And that’s a perfect example.

There is only one person who has actually linked Gerry Adams to Jean McConville and that is Brendan Hughes.

Yes, Gerry Adams is coming on and painting with this hugely broad brush about what was said about him and Jean McConville in the Boston archive in fact it comes down to one person out of all of the ones that have been talked about.

Where do you hear that mentioned in the media reports? Not at all. It’s disgraceful!

JM: Ed, you’re talking about the small percentage of the tapes that were handed over. And it seems to be there might be six other people involved.

Do you know what the process that Boston College went through of the editing of these tapes? And who sat down and picked out which parts were going to be handed over?

EM: This is the interesting story, isn’t it?

As you know myself and Anthony McIntyre tried to get included in the case and we were consistently rebuffed. First of all at the district court level, then at the First Circuit level and then we tried to get into the Supreme Court and apparently we quite narrowly failed on that as well.

We were trying to argue that we had certain rights and what have you – those were not recognised by the courts. So the entire case in relation to dealing with the tapes was left to Boston College.

They claimed at district court level that the librarian at Boston College when asked by the judge to go through the interviews and to hand over to him those interviews which were respondent to the subpoena he claims, can you believe, that he had not read one of them and didn’t know what was in them.

Now you can take that with as large a pinch of salt as you can possibly manage to get between your forefinger and your thumb.

But anyway that’s what he said so the judge said well in that case I’ll go through them all. Hand over the entire archive to me. So Boston College handed over the entire archive to the judge, Judge Young, in the district court.

When the case was then lost and Boston College announced that it was not going to appeal and the process of resisting the subpoena as far as they were concerned was over there was an outraged reaction from all sorts of people, not least ourselves, leading the criticism of Boston College for abject cowardice.

That forced them into a re-think.

And the re-think was that they then appealed to the First Circuit that only those interviews which actually dealt with and were respondent to subpoena – i.e. dealt with the Jean McConville case – should be handed over.

So originally something like forty-six or forty-seven interviews were to be handed over (if not more) but as a result of that action and the judgment of the First Circuit that was reduced down to eleven out of forty-six.

So as result of that a very, very much smaller number of interviews were put at risk as a result.

But no thanks to Boston College. None of this need have happened. If they had been honest at the outset and told the judge: Yeah – we’ll go away and look at them and we’ll give you over – they could have handed over even less if they really wanted to.

I know, for example, that one of these interviews – it was handed over on the basis of a question and answer which amounted to: did you know anything about the “unknown cells”. (This was unknown cell that “disappeared” people.) Answer: I heard of them but didn’t know anything about them.

And on the basis of that or a question very similar to that an interview was handed over and therefore, in the words of Tommie Gorman and Sharon O’Neill, that is then translated into really crucial, exciting evidence about Jean McConville’s disappearance.

A lot of nonsense being is talked. Very little research, very few questions being asked by the media and the result is what we have.

SB: Ed, thank you very much for setting the record straight. This is an incredibly important case and we’re going to continue to keep on top of it. I think we’ll be back next week with more on this subject. So thank you very much, Ed.

EM: No problem.

(ends time stamp 53:20)

Bell gets bail as PSNI postpone Adams response

Bell gets bail as PSNI postpone Adams response
Irish Republican News
March 29, 2014

The PSNI have yet to say if they are seeking to question Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams following the arrest and charging of his former comrade, Ivor Bell, on IRA charges last week.

The 77-year-old war veteran, who left the IRA 29 years ago, received High Court bail this week after being refused by the Magistrates Court where he was charged last Friday. His arrest last week was based on recorded and supposedly ‘confidential’ interviews that he gave to researchers in the USA.

The family of British informer Jean McConville have said they want to see Mr Adams charged alongside Mr Bell in connection with her 1972 shooting.

In court last week, the validity of the interviews — part of a series of conflict-related archives for Boston College — was questioned by Mr Bell’s lawyer. Peter Corrigan pointed out that a man codenamed ‘Mr Z’ in the transcripts, who the prosecution claim is his client, had denied involvement in the murder. He said: “Mr Z clearly said in these transcripts: ‘I had nothing to do with Jean McConville’s murder’.”

The lawyer pointed out that Mr Bell suffered from serious health problems, including two heart attacks in 2003 and 2006. He also suffered an angina attack during interrogation at Antrim last week, among other serious medical conditions.

“He has every incentive to attend court to prove his innocence. Are the prosecution seriously suggesting that a man in this serious ill health who can’t walk up steps is going to abscond for an offence where he has every incentive to attend court?,” Mr Corrigan argued.


Between five and ten years ago, several ex-IRA members made a series of recorded biographies as part of a controversial ‘oral history’ project in which they talked openly about their lives in the armed struggle. Journalist Ed Moloney and former republican prisoner Anthony McIntyre were paid to research and conduct the interviews.

Those interviewed were told none of the details would be made public until after their deaths, although few safeguards were put in place to counter the eventual legal intervention by the British authorities. In 2010, Moloney wrote a well-received book based on the project’s interviews with Brendan ‘The Dark’ Hughes, who died in 2008.

The motivation of both McIntyre and Moloney is a matter of ongoing public debate. McIntyre, a blogger, has said he is opposed to the political direction of Sinn Fein and the Provisional movement, but he has also strongly condemned the breakaway IRA groups.

Sinn Fein has described the Boston College project as a “touters [informers] charter”, and said it was engineered by two people who wre ‘out to get Adams’.

In a statement on Tuesday, Gerry Adams himself described the project as an “entirely bogus, shoddy and self-serving effort” by those involved. He said the idea for the project originated with an advisor to Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and was taken up by two men who “are vitriolic critics and opponents of the Sinn Fein peace strategy, of me in particular and of Sinn Fein and its leadership.”

In his blog, McIntyre responded that the project “was an important and valuable contribution to Irish history, one that society will be better for having rather than denied”. He said the material was being ‘abused’ by the PSNI and the British State who he said were “intent on prosecuting the past in the absence of any mature politicians willing to come to grips with dealing with the past”.

In his own response, Ed Moloney said he does not “give a tinkers” whether Gerry Adams was ever a member of the IRA, something which the Sinn Fein leader has long denied, to the annoyance of all sides in the conflict.

“When a major political leader tells such an obvious falsehood about a defining part of his life,” Moloney said, “then I do believe that it the journalist’s job, and the historian’s too, to subject that claim to the most stringent scrutiny.


However, the arrest of Bell suggests that it is not Mr Adams, but his opponents, who are the PSNI’s primary targets. Bell was campaign manager for independent republican Ciaran Mulholland, who is standing in local elections in May against Sinn Fein and other nationalist candidates. Mulholland described the arrest as political.

In a recent interview, he said there was more evidence “pointing at other individuals that haven’t even been as much as questioned” in respect of the McConville incident. He pointed to the case of another republican veteran and independent election candidate, Gerry McGeough, who was unexpectedly arrested at an election count centre in County Tyrone in 2007. McGeough was subsequently returned to prison.

“When anyone tries to offer an alternative, give a voice to alternative Republicanism they seem to be either incarcerated, subjected to smear campaigns or just intimidated,” Mulholland said.

He contrasted the situation with those Sinn Fein supporters formerly ‘on the run’ (OTR) who controversially received letters to confirm they are no longer being pursued, such as Donegal man John Downey who was recently cleared of IRA charges at London’s Old Bailey.

“Mr Downey is still very much with the Sinn Fein movement but it seems to be that some people’s rights are more important than other people’s rights,” he said. “And there’s a lack of consistency when it comes to the law depending on what your political aspirations are.”

TRANSCRIPT: Michael Reade Show @LMFMRADIO Anthony McIntyre responds to Deputy Gerry Adams comments on Boston College Tapes

The Michael Reade Show
LMFM Radio 95.8FM Drogheda
28 March 2014

Michael Reade (MR) interviews Dr. Anthony McIntyre (AM) about Gerry Adams’ recent comments about the Boston College tapes.

(begin at time stamp 15:50)

MR: Now earlier this week the Sinn Féin President and TD for Louth, Gerry Adams, explained to me why he instructed his solicitor to let the PSNI know that he’s available to them if they wish to speak to him about the “disappearance” and killing of Jean McConville.

(An audio clip from that interview is played and is transcribed here)

Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams:

This arises, Michael, and it’s quite interesting. The media in The North, and I was in the North on Sunday, there was a frenzy of reportage that I was about to be arrested. And this arises from the arrest and the charging of a man called Ivor Bell who allegedly has made a tape as part of this totally bogus Boston oral project in which it’s alleged that he implicated himself in certain activities around the IRA. So there’s a big media run at this. And I simply put out a statement saying that I’ve no issue about meeting the PSNI and asked my solicitor to get in touch with them. I also, as I’ve done fairly consistently, took issue with this Boston oral history project.

You know, it’s all of those interviewed by it are avowedly anti-Sinn Féin, avowedly against the peace process, against the Sinn Féin leadership. It’s a very flawed, partisan project – shoddy and self-serving. It is not a serious or genuine, ethically based history project. (Audio clip ends)

MR: Anthony McIntyre a former IRA prisoner was the lead researcher in the Boston College Belfast Project and conducted the oral history interviews with Republicans for the archive and is with me in the studio. Good Morning to you, Anthony McIntyre, and thanks for joining us here on the programme.

Gerry Adams issued a statement in relation to all of this pretty much in line with what we’ve just heard there. You issued a statement contesting what Gerry Adams has to say.

And in case there is any confusion he is talking specifically about you.

He says the idea for the Boston oral history project originated with Paul Bew, an advisor to David Trimball, and was taken up by Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, who conducted the interviews. Both are vitriolic critics and opponents of the Sinn Féin peace strategy, of me in particular and of Sinn Féin and its leadership. Your response to all of that.

AM: Well I don’t think that Mr. Adams would recognise ethics if it bit him in the backside.

I am very much of the view that his narrative on this is self-serving and shoddy. The real shoddy, false narrative is Mr. Adams’ narrative of no involvement in the IRA.

And in terms of it being a shoddy academic exercise allow me to quote from Judge William G. Young, who has read, unlike Mr. Adams…

MR: This is a US federal judge…

AM:   This is a US federal court judge who has read a hundred and seventy plus interviews, transcripts of the interviews that Boston College regrettably handed over when it had no need to hand (it) over to him but it is what it is.

And Judge Young said: “This was a bona fide academic exercise of considerable intellectual merit. These materials are of valid academic interest historian, sociologist, the student of religion, the student of youth movements, academics who are interested in insurgency and counter-insurgency and terrorism and counter-terrorism. They’re of interest to those who study the history of religions.”

Now that’s far removed from the characterisation of the project that has been offered by Deputy Adams.

MR: You say that the core issue in all of this is Gerry Adams’ denial of his membership of the IRA.

AM: What I’m saying is it’s not the core issue in terms of what this project was about.

But it’s certainly the core issue for Mr. Adams because he has strenuously denied that he was ever a member of the IRA.

And the day that academics and journalists and researchers and historians discover that Mr. Adams was not a member of the IRA is the same day that scientists will discover that Newton’s Theory of Gravity was wrong. That the apple, when it comes off the tree, actually goes up the way rather than fall to the ground.

MR: Is his denial of his IRA membership feeding into all of this?

You’ve been writing on your blog, The Pensive Quill, about this and how it wasn’t necessary for him to deny membership that he could have fudged the issue if you like.

But because he denies his links with the organisation and his relationship with the people who were involved in that organisation, in particular Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price, it led to what they told you, what Brendan Hughes told and what Dolours Press had told the press.

AM: Certainly in the case of Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price they were deeply unhappy that Mr. Adams had denied his membership of the IRA. They felt that all he had to say was “no comment”.

They thought that the introduction into the public discourse of such a massive dishonesty was certainly not the ethical way to go. And I suspect their decision to be revealing about Mr. Adams’ role in the IRA was in part prompted by his disavowals of association with the organisation.

MR: If Gerry Adams was Officer Commanding for the West Belfast Brigade or had any other role in the IRA why has it not been proven up to this point? There’s obviously no record of all of this.

AM: There’s a very strong record of this.

Can you name me one historian, one journalist, one researcher… I challenge you to name me one that has found…

MR: But I would go further than that and Gerry Adams has agreed with this point: There’s nobody in this country who thinks that he wasn’t a member of the IRA. Or at least the majority…he agreed with me on that point: that the majority of the people in this country believe that he was a member of the IRA.

But he denies it.

AM: Of course he denies it. He also denies being involved in the killing of Jean McConville.

Unless Mr. Adams is able to demonstrate otherwise I assign an equal truth status to each statement. Or equal untruth status. Each statement is equally true or equally untrue. Can you give me reasons as to why we should believe one and not the other?

Mr Adams has continuously denied his membership in the IRA as a means to fuel his political career. I mean it would be a major travesty of the whole intellectual community, North and South, were (we) have called it wrong on this.

And whether or not Mr Adams was not the issue for me.

Friends that would say to me or anybody trying to assert to me that Gerry Adams was not in the IRA is on par with saying Mr Paisley was never in the DUP or Margaret Thatcher wasn’t leader of the Conservative Party. It is such a recorded fact of intellectual life.

Not proven in the court. But that is secondary because I was found not guilty in a court in 1983 of being a member of the IRA while I sat in the court as a member of the IRA. I had been a longtime member of the IRA. I just don’t buy it.

MR: Gerry Adams undoubtedly is listening to this or to a recording of this and will undoubtedly respond by saying that you’re an opponent of the peace process and the direction that he’s taken the Republican Movement in…

AM: I am. Yes.

MR: …and that that is fueling your comments today and previous comments that you’ve made.

AM: No, it is not.

I believe that I have never, and I can stand over this and say that I have never written anything that I did not believe to be true. If I did believe Mr. Adams was not a member of the IRA I wouldn’t write it.

I am a critic of Sinn Féin. I am a critic of the peace process.

But I’m strongly for the peace.

Because I believe the process is, from a Republican point of view, an ideological travesty. It is an intellectual fallacy. And it’s political opportunism.

When Mr. Adams makes the allegation, as he did in The Andersonstown News a few days ago, that all the people involved in the Boston College project were avowedly anti-peace and anti-Good Friday Agreement – this was another false narrative as spun by Mr. Adams.

I’ll will give you an example: Richard O’Rawe for example, who has openly admitted being part of the Boston College project, voted for The Good Friday Agreement (and) supports the peace process. Now Mr. Adams’ issue with Richard O’Rawe is that Richard O’Rawe has compellingly constructed a narrative around the 1981 hunger strike which shows that the Sinn Féin leadership sabotaged the deal that would have brought about an end to the hunger strike and saved the lives of six men.

And Richard O’Rawe has been rubbished. Richard O’Rawe has been smeared.

Everybody that disagrees with Mr. Adams or tries to hold Mr. Adams to any sort of public scrutiny is immediately smeared or dismissed. It’s a time honoured tactic. And it doesn’t concern me in the slightest…

MR: Why? I mean if what you’re saying is correct why would he take that approach? Would it actually damage Gerry Adams to admit that he was a member of the IRA?

AM: I think there’s two aspects. I think firstly that what it would do if he was to admit he was a member of the IRA, and I would not advise him to admit being a member of the ÍRA, is that it could lead to charges from a vindictive police force in The North. There would be a howl from the Unionist community to have him charged.

But I would expect him not to introduce a massive dishonesty into intellectual or public discourse and I would expect him to simply say: “no comment” because he is ridiculed continuously over these denials.

Secondly, I think Mr. Adams is of a view that it is to his disadvantage as he tries to climb the political ladder to admit to membership of the IRA or directing the IRA campaign.

MR: Mr. Adams referred to a recent arrest in relation to the killing of Jean McConville. Did that emanate from your recordings?

AM: The police alleged that it did. But I have never confirmed that I interviewed Mr. Bell. I’ve never said that I interviewed Mr. Bell.

MR: You didn’t want these recordings to be handed over to the PSNI…

AM: Obviously not.

MR: Well, perhaps you could explain that yourself.

AM: I’m a researcher and I’m a journalist and I carried out this in good faith. And I had hoped that it would be beneficial to posterity at some point to future historians of the conflict…also as a need for truth recovery.

But as a journalist and a researcher my first ethical obligation is to protect from harm those people who participated in revealing confidential information to me. I have tried from the outset to ensure that I was successful and unfortunately the case that I had mounted in defence, along with my colleague Ed Moloney in the United States, has failed. It has curbed ultimately, the resistance curbed the amount of tapes that were handed over. But tapes have been handed over and there has been a process of arrest.

MR: Has that put you in danger?

AM: I’ve always suspected that I would be in danger as a result of this.

In the year 2000 when I was writing in West Belfast and living in West Belfast I accused the IRA of having carried out the murder, the shoot-to-kill murder, public execution, (of Joe O’Connor in)broad daylight in Ballymurphy on the thirteenth of October, 2000. And immediately at my home I was picketed by members of Mr. Adams’ party – mobs on two separate occasions surrounded it.

Mr. Adams wrote an article that the IRA was not responsible and accused me (again a smear) and of being a fellow traveler of the Real IRA because I had spoken out against a killing. The IRA leadership visited my home. One of the people in the IRA leadership is now a current senior figure within Sinn Féin. They tried to intimidate me and my pregnant wife but we resisted that intimidation.

So I do feel that there is a potential for a threat. But I don’t stay awake at night saying: well, it’s going to happen to me and I’m terrified of it. I live with the possibility but I’m not going to run around in fear.

MR: Now just to conclude in the brief time that we have…the statement that you’ve issued may beg questions of Gerry Adams. Mr. Adams may end up in the spotlight again for a short while and the comments you’ve made here this morning may even add to that. But do you accept that, as has been the case on every other occasion that these questions have been asked of Mr. Adams, it’ll fizzle out quickly enough.

AM: That’s a possibility. But I also believe that Mr. Adams has been drawn closer and closer into this and the whole issue here for Mr. Adams I think is fraught with dangers.

I would raise the question because Mr. Adams’ party members – the former Lord Mayor of Doire on his Twitter account – has been accusing the people in the Boston College project to have been involved in a touting programme. That is labeling those people informers.

The question I would put to Mr. Adams is:

If any trial ever emerges in relation to the killing of Jean McConville and people who are either charged or who have knowledge about the killing of Jean McConville are willing to use the court as a truth commission or a truth tribunal, does Mr. Adams support their right to give evidence in open court?

Would he think they’re right to do that? And if he does think they’re right to do that would he then ensure, or would he insist on his party desisting from calling the people who participated in the project touts or anybody that decides to give evidence in court as part of a truth commission…will he desist in calling them touts?

MR: You’ve told me that you’ll be happy to come back and discuss this with Gerry Adams if he’s available to do that. We’ve put that as a proposition to Mr. Adams already and perhaps we’ll talk again. But thank you indeed for coming in today.

AM: Thank you very much.

MR: Thank you indeed. So that’s Anthony McIntyre, former IRA prisoner himself, who was the lead researcher in the Boston College Belfast Project and conducted the oral history interviews with Republicans for the archive.

(ends at time stamp 31:25)

Sinn Fein councillor brands Boston College archive a ‘touting programme’ on Twitter

Sinn Fein councillor brands Boston College archive a ‘touting programme’ on Twitter
Derry Journal
28 March 2014

A former Mayor of Derry has branded an archive of interviews with ex-paramilitaries as a “touting programme.”

Sinn Fein’s Kevin Campbell made his comments on social media website, Twitter.

It’s believed his remarks refer to an oral history archive which includes interviews in which former paramilitaries gave details of their role in the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The Boston College tapes are a series of candid, confessional interviews with former loyalist and republican paramilitaries, designed to be an oral history of the Troubles.

The paramilitaries were told the tapes would only be made public after their deaths. However, after a series of court cases in the United States, some of the content has been handed over to the authorities.

An ongoing court case against a well known Belfast republican is believed to be based on an interview he allegedly gave to researchers at Boston College in the US.

Ivor Bell (77) was arrested at his home last week by police investigating the 1972 abduction and murder of Belfast mother-of-ten Jean McConville.

In his Twitter post, Councillor Campbell wrote: “It seems Ivor Bell, according to the papers, is the creator of his own misfortune thanks to big Mackers and his touting programme.”

Former IRA volunteer-turned-writer Anthony McIntyre, who carried out interviews for the oral history project, has criticised Colr. Campbell’s remarks.

Writing on his own website, Mr. McIntyre says: “As Derry’s former first citizen, exactly what advice does Mr Campbell have for people who may be in possession of information pertaining to the circumstances surrounding the death of Jean McConville or other IRA activity carried out prior to the Good Friday Agreement?”

He also accuses the former Mayor of being a “member of a party that openly advocates providing information on republicans at odds with the Sinn Fein strategy.”

There was no comment from either Councillor Campbell or his party when contacted on the matter by the ‘Journal’ yesterday.

TRANSCRIPT: The arrest of Ivor Bell and oral history archive The Belfast Project

Topic: The arrest of Ivor Bell and oral history archive The Belfast Project
BBC Radio
Good Morning Ulster
26 March 2014

Programme Hosts Karen Patterson (KP) and Noel Thompson (NT)
Reporters Conor Macauley (CM) and Andy Martin (AM)
The Belfast Project Researcher Dr. Anthony McIntyre (DrMc) and
Lecturer and Coordinator for the Criminology and Criminal Justice LLM programmes at Queens University Belfast School of Law Marny Requa,J.D.(MR)

(begins 8:07AM)

KP: It was meant to be an oral history of The Troubles. A first-hand account from Loyalists and Republicans who’d been involved in the violence. But now it looks as if the Boston College project may come back to bite some of the participants with their words potentially being used as evidence against them.

NT: Conor Macauley reports on a story which has seen the Sinn Féin President ask police if they want to speak to him about a murder committed forty years ago.

CM: Anthony McIntyre started doing the interviews in 2001. Over five years he recorded two hundred sessions with twenty-six Republicans who spoke candidly of their involvement in The Troubles. The archive was placed in a secure vault in a library at Boston College.

In 2011, detectives investigating the 1972 IRA murder of mother of ten Jean McConville, one of “the disappeared”, sought access to it believing it could help them catch the killers.

Anthony McIntyre, himself a former IRA prisoner, thought his interviewees had a cast iron guarantee from the college that the stories they had told were secure. He wasn’t aware of a US-UK treaty, called MLAT for short, under which the PSNI applied for the tapes.

DrMc: Had myself or Ed Moloney been aware of the MLAT treaty and that the MLAT treaty would permit the British to raid the archive we would never have been involved.

What was the point? What was the purpose?

We would not have been involved had we’d been uncertain about the Absolute nature of the guarantees given.

CM: Nine interviewees had talked about Jean McConville, among them Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes, both now dead. Their accounts were handed over and a second subpoena arrived looking for more.

Eventually a further eleven interviews given by seven other people were released. Each interviewee had been given a letter code to preserve their anonymity. “Person Z” had given forty-two interviews to Anthony McIntyre; two of them were handed over.

In a Belfast court last week the prosecution claimed “Person Z” was seventy-seven year old veteran Republican Ivor Bell who has now been charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Jean McConville.

Anthony McIntyre again:

DrMc: I think it leaves the, not just the archives that I have worked on, but I think it leaves the archives that are of this nature throughout the world in a very precarious situation.

I think there’s a comment from Kevin Cullen in an article in The Boston Globe today in which he says that the oral history and that type of archiving is as dead and in the grave with Mrs. Jean McConville.

CM: Gerry Adams has been accused before of giving the order for Jean McConville’s murder. He’s always denied it.

He’s been highly critical of the Boston College project and its authors. Last week he told his solicitor to ask the police if they wanted to talk to him about the murder.

We already know that he’s been implicated in at least one of the taped interviews now in the possession of detectives. Which leads to the question of whether such interviews might ever be admissible at any trial.

Marny Requa lectures in Criminal Justice at the School of Law at Queens. She says it depends on whether the person has implicated themselves or someone else.

First, the self-implication:

MR: In a general sense it would be admissible unless the defendant makes an application that there’s something about the interview that took place that renders the admission unreliable. So something that was said or done at the time that they were questioned that makes that confession unreliable.

CM: And then if someone, in the course of a statement or an interview of some kind, implicates someone else?

MR: That statement is considered a hearsay statement whether or not that person ends up testifying at trial or not.

I guess you could say the general rule is that hearsay in not admissible unless it falls through one of the categories of admissibility.

So there would be an application made for this hearsay to be admitted. And it would have to be up to the judge to consider various categories for admissibility and whether or not it essentially would be fair for that statement to be admitted at trial.

CM: Gerry Adams claims that Anthony McIntyre and the people he interviewed have an anti-Sinn Féin agenda and a personal animosity towards him in particular.

DrMc: People with a perspective opposed to my own political perspective did contribute to the project.

I’m not saying there was many of them but that voice was heard. That voice was represented. As Ed Moloney has argued we took what we could get and who we could get.

If ever this archive is ever fully revealed I think people will be surprised as to the type of people that we did get to talk to us.

KP: Conor Macauley there and the BBC’s Ireland Reporter Andy Martin has been following the story. He joins us now. Andy, what happens next?

AM: The simple answer, Karen, is that nobody knows.

The evidence from the Boston archive will now be placed before the courts and it is not at all clear how much of it will be admissible. In the case of Ivor Bell there’s obviously a lot of speculation that it could lead to a kind of outpouring of information about what happened during The Troubles specifically within the IRA during the 70’s.

But I think there are a few points that are worth making: We can’t say for sure that this will go to full trial. There will be a lot of legal argument. And Ivor Bell is represented by a successful law firm that is very, very confidant.

And when we look at present cases for murders in which there has been DNA evidence and even on occasion ballistics they have failed to result in a conviction. And you look at a murder forty years old in which, to our knowledge, no such evidence exists then you get a sense of the challenge faced by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

Ed Moloney, the Director of The Boston College Project, told me that when the transcripts were handed over that it was likely that one way or another it would result with the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams ending up in court whether that be a civil hearing or criminal one. And Jean McConville’s family have in the past said that they would be willing to take a civil case. So there are a lot of unquantifiable elements in all of this.

And the one thing that we can say for sure is that neither Ed Moloney Anthony McIntyre will give evidence. Ed Moloney has form, in that sense in terms of protecting journalistic sources, and both men live outside the jurisdiction in any case.

KP: But where does this leave the project then, Andy? Can the PSNI access all of the interviews?

AM: I think it’s widely accepted there won’t be one like it again.

Those involved are now in a very unenviable position. Mainstream Republicanism has really been quite aggressive in its language about the project and Anthony McIntyre has even been referred to as an “informer” and in Republican circles that is a very uncomfortable thing to have said about you. And he has spoken about feeling under threat.

But it’s also worth noting that on the Republican side of the Boston project there were two hundred interviews conducted over five years. Now twenty-six people spoke to Anthony McIntyre but but only eleven of those interviews have been released and they only relate to seven people all of whom mentioned Jean McConville.

So what the PSNI has is specific and targeted towards one murder.

If the PSNI want to get more information from the archive they will have to receive specific information and to go back to through the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty process – to go back through courts potentially in the United States and maybe even an appeals process.

So it is not the case that all of the interviews in the hands of the police nor are all of the interviews of the seven people who mentioned Jean McConville in the hands of the police.

For the police’s part they have been accused of political decision-making in all of this. They point out they have a duty and law to pursue any evidential leads and when they heard about the tapes, the existence of the tapes and whenever it was indicated that Jean McConville’s murder had been mentioned, they say that they were compelled to go and get them.

KP: Andy Martin, thank you.

(ends 8:16AM)

Troubles echo in IRA trial

Troubles echo in IRA trial
Kevin Cullen
Boston Globe
March 25, 2014

I never thought I’d type these words: A former IRA commander has been charged with one of the most horrific murders during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, based on information gathered by Boston College as part of an oral history project.

Ivor Bell is awaiting trial in Belfast on charges he aided and abetted the murder of Jean McConville, a widowed mother of 10 who in 1972 was abducted, shot, and secretly buried by the IRA after she was accused of being an informer.

Bell’s lawyer said Bell was innocent, but acknowledged that Bell was the man referred to as Mr. Z in a series of tape-
recorded interviews made by a researcher hired by BC to compile recollections of republicans and loyalists who fought in Northern Ireland.

That researcher, former Irish Republican Army volunteer and prisoner Anthony McIntyre, told me from Ireland that he expects police to knock on his door any day. If they do, they’ll be wasting their time. “I wouldn’t even tell them hello,” he said.

Neither will Bell, 77, who was a senior IRA commander before his star dimmed considerably after overseeing a 1984 gunrunning mission out of Boston that was compromised by an IRA turncoat in Ireland. A Quincy man, John McIntyre, who was part of the crew of the Gloucester trawler Valhalla, was murdered by South Boston gangster Whitey Bulger after he was blamed for giving up the mission.

Bell fell out of favor with the IRA after the Irish Navy seized a ton of weapons, supplied by Boston criminals and worth more than $1 million, while arresting a group of IRA men. Bell’s lawyer, Peter Corrigan, said Bell left the IRA the following year.

Bell was among a group of IRA veterans who opposed the compromise accepted by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams in 1998, effectively ending the Troubles.

Now, police would love Bell to implicate his former comrade turned foe, Adams, who has repeatedly denied involvement in McConville’s murder. Adams says BC naively allowed McIntyre, who openly opposed his leadership, to interview former IRA members who were inclined to implicate him for political reasons.

McConville’s children believe that Adams was behind their mother’s murder and insist he face justice. But this debacle has never been about justice. It’s about politics, specifically about sticking it to Adams and his party. Jean McConville’s children deserve to know who murdered their mother, a crime against humanity that split them up as kids into a series of foster homes. But the prosecution is so biased and politically motivated as to undermine all credibility.

The police in Northern Ireland have shown no interest in the other half of the oral history project: interviews with loyalists, who presumably could shed light on state-sanctioned murders they carried out with the covert assistance of the police and British military.

Ed Moloney, the journalist who oversaw the Belfast Project paid for and archived by Boston College, called Bell’s arrest “a cheap publicity stunt” by police and prosecutors who know that the oral histories, given to an academic by people who were neither under oath nor given legal warnings about self-incrimination, will not stand up as evidence in court.

As critical as he is of the authorities in Northern Ireland, Moloney said it wouldn’t have gotten this far if the US Department of Justice had rebuffed British authorities who asked their American counterparts to gain custody of the BC tapes, or if BC officials were willing to risk fines and even imprisonment to defy the government.

BC spokesman Jack Dunn said BC could not defy a court order to give up some of the tapes.

What a mess. An American university has been unwittingly and unwillingly used by a foreign government, with the acquiescence of the US government, to build a criminal case.

Oral history and academic freedom are dead and gone. They’re in the grave with Jean McConville.

Anthony McIntyre Response to Gerry Adams’ Comments on Boston College’s Belfast Project

Anthony McIntyre Statement in response to Gerry Adams’ Comments on Boston College’s Belfast Project
Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Belfast Project was an important and valuable contribution to Irish history, one that society will be better for having rather than denied.

The abuse of this historical material by the PSNI and British State, who are intent on prosecuting the past in the absence of any mature politicians willing to come to grips with dealing with the past, is robbing the next generation not only of their own history – whichever perspective they come from – but runs the risk of condemning their future as well.

US federal judge William Young, who unlike Mr Adams has studied the contents of the Boston College archives, has stated in his judgement that it was ‘a bona fide academic exercise of considerable intellectual merit.’

In contrast, Mr Adams’ disavowal of his central role in the direction of the IRA campaign is lacking in anything that would remotely resemble intellectual merit or honesty. His narrative has been both self-serving and bogus. Mr Adams would find it difficult to lie in bed straight he is so crooked.

Mr Adams’ concern for the McConville family is equally as fraudulent, as demonstrated by the shoddy falsehood he foisted on family members with his claim to them that he was in prison at the time of the disappearance of Jean McConville.

The truth that the family of Jean McConville deserve to have is a truth that would herald the end of Mr Adams’ political career. This is why he has done everything in his power to prevent it emerging.

Mr Adams’ attempts to insinuate that his critics are somehow egregious or dishonest because they do not subscribe to his false narrative of a peace process which depicts him as a man of peace with no account of his role as a man of war, is his own distorted personal attack. It is consistent with his long evident dictatorial impulse to control the narrative and marginalise dissent from it.

Mr Adams’ time would be better spent securing an approach to the past that does not allow the British state to politically continue a cold war here that will only embed the conflict further. Attacking researchers for gathering Ireland’s history serves nothing bar his career. How many republicans, and victims, must be sacrificed to protect his career?

Adams criticises Boston Oral History Project

Adams criticises Boston Oral History Project
by Gerry Adams TD
Sinn Fein
24 March, 2014

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD responding to media speculation that the PSNI may be interested in speaking to him in reference to the Jean McConville case said:

“I can understand the McConville family’s anger and hurt given what they have been through and given what some anti-peace process former republican activists have been alleging.

However, let me repeat. What happened to Jean McConville was a terrible injustice. I was not involved in any part of it. If the PSNI wish to talk to me on this matter I am available to meet them. I have asked my solicitor to contact them.

It is clear that the so-called Boston Oral History project is an entirely bogus, shoddy and self-serving effort by those involved. The idea for this project originated with Paul Bew, an advisor to David Trimble and was taken up by Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre who conducted the interviews. Both are vitriolic critics and opponents of the Sinn Féin peace strategy, of me in particular and of Sinn Féin and its leadership.

Some of the individuals interviewed have gone to great lengths to attack the republican struggle, the peace process and the political process through lies, distortions and personal attacks. The Boston History project is not a genuine oral history project.

The issue of the past needs to be dealt with and I and Sinn Féin are committed to this. We have argued for an independent, international, truth recovery process. However, if this cannot be agreed then we are seeking the implementation of the Haass compromise proposals.

These include the right of families to choose whether to pursue legal action or to seek maximum truth recovery.”

Police want to quiz writer and former IRA man Anthony McIntyre over his interviews about killing

Jean McConville murder: Police want to quiz writer and former IRA man Anthony McIntyre over his interviews about killing

Former IRA man worked for oral history project
By Suzanne Breen
Belfast Telegraph
24 March 2014

The PSNI is seeking to question the former IRA man turned writer, Anthony McIntyre, about his Boston College interviews with former provisionals about Jean McConville’s murder.

As the interviewer for the US university’s oral history project, Mr McIntyre’s evidence would be crucial in the case against Ivor Bell and any other former IRA leaders who may in future be charged with involvement in the horrific 1972 abduction and killing.

The Belfast Telegraph has learned that detectives questioning Bell were “keenly interested” in Gerry Adams’ alleged role in the mother-of-10’s murder. The Sinn Fein president strongly denies any involvement in her death.

Belfast Magistrate’s Court heard on Saturday that Bell was an interviewee in one of the tapes known as ‘Man Z’ which Bell denies.

The 77-year-old is charged with IRA membership and aiding and abetting the murder of Jean McConville. Other ex-IRA members are expected to be arrested in the coming weeks by detectives who have in their possession tapes of seven republicans, who are all still alive, allegedly discussing the McConville killing.

It is understood the PSNI wants to question Mr McIntyre about Bell’s alleged interview, and the conditions in which it took place, in order to corroborate the claims allegedly made in the tape.

Mr McIntyre would be quizzed as to whether Bell was ‘Man Z’ and the validity of the recordings he made of his interviewees.

However, sources said there were “absolutely no circumstances” in which Mr McIntyre would co-operate with police. Refusal to do so could result in him facing charges of withholding information but the sources said he would “go to jail rather than compromise source protection”.

Mr McIntyre is a member of the National Union of Journalists and the issue is to be raised with the union this week.

The ex-IRA man has previously said he has “every sympathy with the McConville family in their search for truth recovery but journalists, academics, and researchers need protection if they are to gain the necessary information which offers a valuable insight into the past”.

As the lead researcher for the Belfast project for Boston College between 2001 and 2006, Mr McIntyre conducted over 170 interviews with 26 republicans.

They were undertaken on the agreement that the interviews wouldn’t be released until after the interviewee’s death.

Tapes of now deceased IRA members Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes – who both accused Gerry Adams of ordering Jean McConville’s murder – were handed over to the PSNI by Boston College.

However, a major legal battle followed over the taped interviews of republicans who are still alive.

Last June, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ordered that 11 interviews with seven other republicans – in which Jean McConville’s murder was mentioned – be given to the PSNI.

It is understood that in these tapes, other shootings, bombings and IRA activities are discussed.

However, the US courts gave the police the tapes under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) which means that they can be used only in the Jean McConville murder inquiry and not in any other investigations.

The interviewees in Boston College’s Belfast project were all given code names. The PSNI has employed voice analysis technology in its efforts to link the tape interviews to known republicans.

It is understood detectives want to ask Mr McIntyre to corroborate their efforts to identify the republicans he interviewed.

Veteran republican in custody over murder charges

The police case against a veteran republican charged in connection with the notorious IRA murder of Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville is based on an interview he allegedly gave to researchers at a US college, a court has heard.

The claim was made as Ivor Bell (77), was refused bail and remanded in custody by a district judge in Belfast accused of aiding and abetting in the murder as well as membership of the IRA.

Boston College interviewed a number of former paramilitaries about the Troubles on the understanding transcripts would not be published until after their deaths – but that undertaking was rendered ineffective when a US court last year ordered that the tapes be handed over to the PSNI.

The interviews included claims about the murder of Mrs McConville, who was abducted by the IRA at her home at Divis Flats, Belfast in 1972, shot dead and then secretly buried.

Applying for bail, Peter Corrigan, representing Bell, told district judge Amanda Henderson on Saturday that the prosecution case was that an interviewee on one of the Boston tapes, referred to only as ‘Z’, was his client.

But the solicitor insisted the person interviewed on the tape had denied any involvement in the murder.

“During those interviews ‘Z’ explicitly states that he was not involved with the murder of Jean McConville,” he said.

Mr Corrigan also questioned the evidential value of the interviews, as they had not been conducted by trained police officers.

Grey-haired Bell, from Ramoan Gardens in the Andersonstown area of west Belfast, sat impassively in the dock as his lawyer made the claims.

Some of Mrs McConville’s children watched from the gallery.

A PSNI detective inspector, who earlier told the judge he could connect the accused with the charges, rejected Mr Corrigan’s interpretation of the Boston College interview.

The officer said he opposed bail on the ground that the defendant would likely flee the jurisdiction.

But Mr Corrigan said that was out of the question, noting that his client suffered from a range of serious medical conditions and that his family was based in Belfast.

Judge Henderson said she was more convinced with the argument the prosecution had made.

Bell was remanded in custody to appear before court again next month.

After the hearing, Mrs McConville’s son Michael said the family’s thoughts were with their mother.

“The pain of losing her has not diminished over the decades since she was taken from us, murdered, and secretly buried,” he said.

Four decades of a family’s search for truth and justice

May 1972: Jean McConville, a widowed mother-of-10, was dragged away from her children at their home in west Belfast’s Divis flats by an IRA gang of up to 12 men and women after being accused of passing information to the Army in Belfast.

1999: After a group is set up to find the Disappeared, the IRA finally admits Mrs McConville was murdered.

Information is passed on to Gardai.

However, republicans secure legal guarantees that mean evidence given to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains is inadmissible in criminal proceedings.

August 2003: After several failed attempts to locate her remains, Mrs McConville’s remains are finally found on Shelling Hill beach, Co Louth.

March 2010: Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams is accused by the late Belfast IRA commander Brendan ‘Darkie’ Hughes of setting up a secret unit that abducted Mrs McConville from her home and “disappeared” her, through a series of interviews for the Boston College Belfast Project.

February 2011: Mrs McConville’s family members visit the Louth constituency where Mr Adams is standing for election to urge voters to reject his election campaign.

Mr Adams strongly denies any prior knowledge that the widow was to be murdered and her body dumped or that he had any involvement.

November 2013: One of Mrs McConville’s children tells the BBC’s investigation programme Spotlight that she knows a number of the people who helped abduct her mother.

In another documentary, The Disappeared, Mr Adams is asked about allegations he had knowledge of her murder, which he strongly denies.

March 2014: Veteran republican Ivor Bell (77) is charged in connection with IRA membership, and aiding and abetting the murder of Mrs McConville following his arrest last Tuesday.

The PSNI seeks to question the former IRA man turned journalist, Anthony McIntyre, about his Boston College interviews with ex-provisionals on Mrs McConville’s murder.

How story of Boston tapes has unfolded

Q Who conducted the interviews for the Belfast Project oral history project at Boston College?

A Veteran journalist and author Ed Moloney was the project director. Dr Anthony McIntyre conducted the republican interviews while Wilson McArthur spoke to former loyalist paramilitaries.

Q Who was interviewed as part of the taped project?

A Boston College interviewed former paramilitaries about the Troubles on the understanding that transcripts would not be published until after their deaths. However, a US court last year ordered that tapes which mention Jean McConville be handed over to the PSNI.

Q How many people were interviewed?

A Forty-six people gave recorded interviews detailing their involvement in terrorist violence to the project.

Q How were interviewees’ identities protected?

A They were all given code names. The PSNI has employed voice analysis technology in their efforts to link the interviews to known republicans.

Q What tapes have been released following the deaths of interviewees?

A The first to die was IRA member Brendan Hughes, who admitted taking part in the murder of Jean McConville. Brendan and deceased IRA member Dolours Price, whose recording was also handed over to the PSNI, accused Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams of ordering Jean McConville’s murder.

Q And what will happen now?

A Ed Moloney, Dr Anthony McIntyre and Wilson McArthur are planning to sue Boston College after it emerged the institution didn’t check its procedures on when controversial material would be published with its lawyers.