Statement On Belfast High Court Judgement In Anthony McIntyre Case
The judgement by the Belfast High Court today upholding the PSNI-Boston College action to confiscate the tapes of interviews given by the project’s republican co-ordinator and principal interviewer, Anthony McIntyre comes as no surprise to those of us who have witnessed this process since it began over seven long years ago.
But with this action against McIntyre, the reality of what lies behind the PSNI action against the Boston archive is now clear for all to see.
At the outset, the authorities argued that the action to confiscate the Boston tapes was justified on the basis that they might lead to some light being shed upon the abduction and disappearance of Jean McConville, a widowed mother-of-ten who was accused by the Provisional IRA of spying for the British Army.
But Anthony McIntyre had nothing whatsoever to do with the McConville disappearance as everyone on this island knows.
His real offence, in the eyes of the state and the intelligence agencies that it directs, was to embark upon an independent effort to discover the truth, or as much of it as can be excavated, about the role played by one of the major players during the Troubles. This was done without the knowledge or approval of that organisation’s leadership, and that was possibly his real offence.
In doing that, with my aid and co-operation, he challenged the state’s claim to monopolise, along with trusted participants in the Troubles, the process of how, by whom and by what means the past in Northern Ireland should be examined.
That was Anthony McIntyre’s crime. That is why he is being pursued through the courts. His prosecution cum persecution is being carried out as a warning to others, in academia and the media, that this is what they can expect if they dare follow in his path.
This process has been dragged out for an unprecedented seven years. I suspect that has been deliberate and that the ongoing, never-ending Boston College (BC) case exists as a constant reminder of what can happen to anyone who dares imitate that project.
Political considerations have also dictated who the authorities have targeted. When a senior member of the BC Trustees complained about the one-sided, i.e. Republican bias of the prosecutions, the PSNI promptly sought access to ‘Winky’ Rea’s tapes in the UVF part of the archive and then charged him.
In recent weeks we have learned how MI5 and the police and military intelligence agencies devised the so-called ‘third connection’ to enable their agents to commit crimes, possibly as serious as murder, and not face any prosecution as a consequence.
This is the sort of dirty secret that the British state and its agencies are scared will emerge out of any truth-telling process that they cannot devise, direct and control.
We have also seen two television journalists involved in the production of the documentary film ‘No Stone Unturned’ arrested and questioned by detectives for the crime of doing their jobs as investigative reporters. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the state is unalterably opposed to any who wish to investigate aspects of the past it believes should stay hidden.
Anthony McIntyre is being dragged through the courts as a warning to others: follow in his path at your peril. As acts of vindictiveness go, it has few equals.
Ed Moloney is the former director of Boston College Oral History Archive