News Letter Special on BOSTON TAPES: College says no-one can question project intention

News Letter Special on BOSTON TAPES: College says no-one can question project intention
Ben Lowry
News Letter

The News Letter put Professor Kevin O’Neill’s criticisms (which can be read here) about the tapes saga to Boston College.

Jack Dunn, the university’s director of Public Affairs, said: “The Belfast Project was designed to capture the oral histories of individuals who had been been directly involved in the Troubles to provide a resource for future generations of journalists, historians and scholars.

“Boston College Burns librarian Bob O’Neill and Irish Studies director Tom Hachey hired project director and former Irish journalist Ed Moloney and his interviewer, former IRA member Anthony McIntyre, to oversee the project, with confidentiality always being at the forefront of their concerns and actions.

“In retrospect, the four would likely agree that it was a mistake not to have embargoed the materials for a specified period of 20-30 years. Instead, they agreed in 2000 that the embargo would remain in place only until the death of the participants.

“With the death of Brendan Hughes and David Irvine, project director Ed Moloney pushed for the release of the book and RTE documentary ‘Voices from the Grave’ in 2010. Unfortunately, the release of the book and documentary, coupled with an interview that Dolours Price gave to Irish media in which she implicated herself and Gerry Adams in the abduction of Jean McConville, led the PSNI to invoke the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the United States and Great Britain to subpoena the Price interviews through the US Department of Justice.

“Attorneys for Boston College fought to oppose the subpoena in US Federal Court, but when Ed Moloney gave interviews to US media suggesting that BC ‘destroy the tapes’, the PSNI then sought a second subpoena for all of the IRA interviews that referenced the murder of Jean McConville.

“BC fought the second subpoena and won a significant court victory that reduced the number of transcripts that were ultimately sent to the PSNI from 85 to portions of 11 interviews with seven former IRA members.

“Upon completion of the legal proceedings, Boston College offered to return the tapes to individuals involved.

“As with all projects that attempt to capture controversial historical events, there has been criticism of the Belfast Project that has been directed at all four of the individuals involved, as well as Boston College, the PSNI and the US Department of Justice.

“While, in hindsight, some of the criticism may be warranted, no one can rightfully question the intention of the project, which was to provide a historical archive in support of the movement for peace and reconciliation that emerged in the wake of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.”