Boston College seeks to quash application for Anthony McIntyre interviews

Boston College seeks to quash application for Anthony McIntyre interviews
Historian was involved in interviewing 26 republicans as part of project
Gerry Moriarty
The Irish Times
Wed, May 25, 2016

Boston College is due on Thursday to formally seek to overturn an application that would compel the university to hand over taped interviews given by former IRA prisoner Anthony McIntyre as part of the Belfast Project.

The British government, acting on behalf of the PSNI and the office of the North’s Director of Public Prosecution, last month served a subpoena on Boston College seeking access to Dr McIntyre’s personal interviews.

Historian Dr McIntyre, who served time in prison on an IRA murder conviction, was involved in interviewing 26 republicans as part of the oral history of the Troubles project.

Dr McIntyre also gave an interview about his IRA involvement during the conflict to another interviewer as part of the project.

Last month, Boston College’s spokesman Jack Dunn said the “subpoena was issued in proceedings that the United States District Court ordered sealed, and Boston College was requested to treat the proceedings and the subpoena as confidential”.

He added that, nevertheless, the college notified Dr McIntyre of the subpoena because it felt he should be informed his interview was requested.

On Wednesday, Mr Dunn told The Irish Times that Boston College intended to “file a motion to quash the subpoena as they have with the previous subpoenas”.

The matter, however, is under seal in the US federal court and our filing will not be public,” he added.

It is likely to be some time before the court issues its judgment on the matter.

Evidence from US witness sought in Jean McConville case

Evidence from US witness sought in Jean McConville case
The Irish Times
Mon, May 16, 2016

Efforts are being made to obtain evidence from an American witness in the case against a veteran republican charged over the killing of Jean McConville, a court heard today.

A prosecution lawyer disclosed attempts to have them compelled to testify about alleged offences linked to Ivor Bell.

The 79-year-old faces charges of soliciting to murder connected to an allegation that he encouraged or persuaded others to kill Mrs McConville. The victim, a mother of 10, was seized by the IRA from her Divis Flats home in west Belfast in 1972 after being wrongly accused of being an informer.

Following her abduction she was shot dead and then secretly buried. Her body was discovered on a Co Louth beach in 2003.

Mr Bell, from Ramoan Gardens in the Andersonstown district of the city, was arrested and charged in March 2014. The case against him centres on an interview he allegedly gave to US researchers from Boston College as part of a project with former paramilitaries about their roles in the Northern Ireland conflict.


Although transcripts were not to be published until after the deaths of those who took part, a US court ordered the tapes should be handed over to PSNI detectives investigating Mrs McConville’s killing.

It is alleged Mr Bell is one of the Boston interviewees, given the title Z, who spoke about the circumstances surrounding the decision to abduct her. A voice analyst has been enlisted as part of the case.

The accused – who is currently on bail – denies any role in events surrounding the murder, claiming he was not even in the city at the time. His lawyers contend that he does not have a case to answer.

They are expected to mount an attempt to have the charges thrown out at a preliminary inquiry hearing where witnesses can be cross-examined in a bid to test the strength of the evidence.

At Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Monday, prosecution lawyer John O’Neill provided an update on proceedings. He indicated that efforts have been made to compel an unnamed witness from America to give evidence. However, that person remains unwilling to comply with requests.

An application may now be made to have this evidence admitted on a hearsay basis.

The case was then adjourned until next month when the prosecution is expected to finalise its position.

Boston College tapes: Police bid for access to former IRA man’s interviews just ‘fishing expedition’, court hears

Boston College tapes: Police bid for access to former IRA man’s interviews just ‘fishing expedition’, court hears
By Alan Erwin
Published 10/05/2016

Police attempts to gain access to a former IRA man’s interviews for an American university project are just a “fishing expedition”, the High Court heard today.

Lawyers for Anthony McIntyre insisted recordings of his activities stored at Boston College only contain details of offences for which he has already served a prison sentence.

They are taking legal action to stop efforts by the PSNI and Public Prosecution Service to gain access to the tapes.

McIntyre, who is from Belfast but now lives in the Irish Republic, was one of the main researchers in the major project to compile an oral history of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Dozens of loyalists and republicans provided testimonies to Boston College on the understanding their account would only be made public after they died.

But those assurances were dealt a blow when legal battles resulted in police securing transcripts and tapes of interviews given by former IRA woman Dolours Price and ex-loyalist prisoner Winston “Winkie” Rea.

Now the authorities want access to McIntyre’s recorded recollection of his own IRA activities.

A subpoena seeking copies of his interviews has been served on Boston College by the British government.

The move involves a so-far undisclosed International Letter of Request (ILOR) setting out alleged offences being investigated.

The College has until May 26 to file a motion to quash those proceedings in the United States.

Meanwhile, McIntyre’s lawyers have launched legal action at the High Court in Belfast.

They are seeking to judicially review the PSNI and PPS for issuing the ILOR.

Ronan Lavery QC said that unlike the Rea case, the authorities have decided not to disclose details of the letter.

He told the court it was suspected the stance was taken because the ILOR reveals no specific offences.

According to the barrister McIntyre was in jail between 1976 and 1992, and has only been questioned about another alleged offence committed within prison.

“In June 1978 he was questioned about possession of an imitation firearm found in a pair of platform shoes,” Mr Lavery said.

“There’s no suggestion of any offence committed since that date.”

Based on the American proceedings taking place later this month, Mr Justice Maguire was told the judicial review application was no longer so urgent.

Mr Lavery contended, however: “We say it’s a fishing expedition, and has no specific (charge). But we won’t know that until we see the ILOR.”

Tony McGleenan QC, for the Chief Constable, responded that the court should wait until American proceedings are exhausted.

“At which point we will know if there’s a need for a hearing in this jurisdiction,” he explained.

Peter Coll QC, representing the PPS, agreed with his assessment, adding: “There’s no immediate urgency in this matter.”

Adjourning the case, Mr Justice Maguire noted that a future hearing may be required at short notice, depending on the outcome in the US.

Belfast Project Protection of Research Letter From American Sociological Association Presidents

Belfast Project Protection of Research Letter From American Sociological Association Presidents

May 5, 2016

To Whom It May Concern:

As the elected presidents of the American Sociological Association, we are profoundly disturbed by the effort to subpoena Dr. Anthony McIntyre’s recordings, collected as part of Boston College’s “Belfast Project,” an oral history of the political and sectarian violence in Northern Ireland decades ago. The research for that project was conducted with a guarantee that the information interviewees provided would not be released until after their deaths. Such guarantees are a core component of efforts by historians and social scientists to develop the research-based knowledge that is critical to an informed society.

This principle of protecting the confidentiality of information obtained from human research subjects is an important part of U.S. federal law and regulation governing research. It is intended to ensure that people who voluntarily participate in research may do so without the threat of harm while also maintaining their right to privacy. Additionally, it is intended to ensure that researchers may conduct studies involving human participants without threats to their ability to develop valuable scientific and humanistic knowledge. Such scholarly freedom is essential to both an informed and a free society.

The ASA, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a scientific discipline and profession, and promoting the contributions and use of sociology to society. As the national organization for over 13,000 sociologists and related scholars and researchers, the ASA takes the responsibility of researchers to protect the confidentiality of research data extremely seriously—this principle is at the heart of the American Sociological Association Code of Ethics, which is enforced by the ASA Committee on Professional Ethics. Similarly, the ASA works vigorously on behalf of scholars and researchers whose efforts to protect confidential data obtained from research participants have been challenged.

As elected officers of the ASA we support Boston College’s effort to protect confidential research information from subpoena. The release of the “Belfast Project” interview data threatens the academic freedom to study difficult and controversial topics. It undercuts the willingness of potential participants in future research to share valuable information. In the short run, such intrusion in research seeking to understand past tragedies can harm the processes through which Northern Ireland now seeks political stability. And in the long run, we must weigh the potential damage to social science that can provide a firmer knowledge base for avoiding these types of conflicts in the future.

For these reasons, we hereby affirm the right of research confidentiality, which is fundamental to social research.


Ruth Milkman
Professor of Sociology,
City University of New York Graduate Center

Paula England
Immediate Past President
New York University

Michèle Lamont
President Elect
Professor of Sociology
Harvard University

American Sociological Association
1430 K Street NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 383-9005
(202) 638-0882 fax