Good Morning Ulster
BBC Radio Ulster
23 May 2014
Conor Bradford (CB) interviews Dr. Anthony McIntyre (AM) about the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) announcement about a fresh pursuit of the Boston College tapes.
(begins time stamp 1:56:50)
CB: Police here are trying to obtain all material relating to Boston College’s Belfast Project which features interviews with dozens of former paramilitaries.
Previously the PSNI gained access to material from the project relating to the 1972 murder of Jean McConville. Information from the recordings led to a series of arrests including that of Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams.
Former IRA member turned writer and academic Anthony McIntyre worked on the archive and he’s on the line now.
Anthony, whenever you take a listen to the police it seems very clear that they want to try and get all of this material. What’s your reaction?
AM: My reaction is one of anger but I did predict this a number of weeks ago when Boston College announced publicly rather than approaching the interviewees privately that they would start returning material.
That was a clear signal to the PSNI that they had a window of opportunity to seize the rest of the archive and they have proceeded to do that.
CB: And legally what position is that in at the moment? Boston College as you say wants to return this material. Has that begun or does this potentially now stop any material being returned?
AM: Well, I’m in discussions with legal people at the moment on the matter and I’m not in the position to say whether people have had material returned or not or whether applications have been made. I do know the situation I’m just not in the position to comment.
CB: So you do know though legally where everything stands at the moment and where the interviews go?
AM: No, I don’t know legally where everything stands. But I know the position in relation to whether people have made applications or not.
CB: Okay. There will be people who’ll be listening to this and saying: Why shouldn’t the police have access to this information?
Often it’s been a very great focus on police trying to recover information and the upset of former paramilitaries at that.
But if they are investigating murders and if this information could be useful and if this could help get to the truth of murders why should all this material not be given to the police?
AM: This is an academic project it’s not gathered for the…
CB: …It’s people’s real lives though.
AM: It is people’s real lives. I accept that.
But at the same time there’s more people…there’s a lot of real lives that are affected by this: there’s political processes, academic integrity, protection of sources, the right to carry out research. So there’s a lot of things at play here now.
CB: Are there people worried by this development? Have you spoken to people who are concerned?
AM: Well people are concerned. But I mean it was predictable. But in terms of the PSNI wanting to solve murders: the PSNI are selectively addressing the past.
The PSNI are not…for example… are they subpoenaing the documents that the British government have in relation to state murders of Irish civilians? No they’re not.
What are they going to do about people like Freddie Scappatici? Are we to believe they don’t have documentation in relation to people like that that that could maybe solve murders if they were interested?
No. What the PSNI are doing here is keeping away anything that might lead back to the role of the British state.
They have easily accessible material on the part of the British state which would solve an awful lot of killings here. They’re not going for it. They’ve been very selective and tendentious.
CB: Okay, Anthony McIntyre, we have to leave it there but thank you very much. We did ask to speak to someone from Boston College but a spokesman told us it would be inappropriate to comment as the college had not received anything from the US Department of Justice.
(ends time stamp 2:00)