The People Who Ratified the US-UK MLAT Think the DOJ Is Wrong About What the Treaty Means

The People Who Ratified the US-UK MLAT Think the DOJ Is Wrong About What the Treaty Means
Chris Bray
FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 2012

At the bottom of this post, a strong letter sent yesterday by Senator Charles Schumer to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric “La La La I Can’t Hear You” Holder regarding the Belfast Project subpoenas served on Boston College. Schumer makes his position plain, asking Clinton and Holder to “work with the British authorities to have this MLAT request withdrawn.” Read the whole thing, but one paragraph in particular wages a direct assault on the arguments made in court by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts:

During the ratification of this treaty we in the United States Senate made clear that provisions of this treaty, and other[s] with the UK, should not be invoked pursuant to political goals related to Northern Ireland. In particular, the Senate resolution that accompanied the ratification of the extradition treaty in 2007 states that, “The Senate understand that the purpose of the treaty is to strengthen law enforcement cooperation between the United States and the [U]nited Kingdom by modernizing the extradition process for all serious offenses and that the treaty is not intended to reopen issues addressed in the Belfast Agreement, or to impede any further efforts to resolve conflicts in Northern Ireland.

Schumer has framed the question widely, addressing his concerns about the mutual legal assistance treaty between the US and the UK with a quote from the Senate resolution regarding a different treaty. But his argument is still specifically sound: A few years ago, the Senate ratified a treaty between these two nations regarding a matter of international cooperation in internal criminal justice matters. Doing so, they make explicit their intent to keep “issues addressed in the Belfast Agreement” — like the past activities of paramilitaries that fought during the Troubles in Northern Ireland — out of the bucket of things for which the treaty would assure police cooperation. So why would the same United States Senate ratify a different treaty, just a few years earlier, with an entirely different intent?

Bottom line: Treaties assuring criminal justice cooperation between the US and the UK were not created to assure cooperation in legal efforts to relitigate the political conflict in Northern Ireland. Here it is from a member of the Senate — that is, from another one of the political officials who participated in the vote to accept this treaty on behalf of the United States government and give it legal weight. The PSNI, and the DOJ, are using a treaty to do something it wasn’t supposed to do. Period. This claim can no longer be said, with anything approaching honesty, to be in dispute.

So let’s revisit the amicus brief filed in the same appellate case by the ACLU of Massachusetts, and the government brief in the case filed last week with the First Circuit. Look at pg. 7 of the amicus brief: The ACLUM argues that a deferential approach to requests for mutual legal assistance, accompanied by the DOJ’s “desired straightjacket on judicial review,” threatens to turn US law enforcement into a political arm of foreign governments. See their list of examples for more, but the point is that reflexive and unchecked international legal cooperation opens the door to the policing of dissent: Sure, we’ll hunt down that information on your dissidents.

This unexamined governmental willingness to serve the political agendas of foreign governments is precisely the topic at hand in the matter of the Boston College subpoenas: The UK made peace with the IRA, closing a long civil war, but is now quite transparently fishing for evidence it can use to damage longtime political enemies of the British state. A long-ignored 1972 murder is suddenly an urgent law enforcement matter, but, hey, there’s nothing fishy about that sudden urgency, trust us, when can we have these documents?

The government responds to the ACLUM’s argument by not responding, really, except to cough and make a carefully narrow set of legal claims. But here’s the most plainly germane piece: In the government’s brief, look at footnote 32, which begins on pg. 56 (of the brief, which is pg. 68 of the PDF file). The DOJ is sure that the “thrust of the legislative history” is that Congress never meant to “graft” a standard of “wide discretion (and resulting inefficiencies)” on MLAT requests. They just meant for you to shut up, your honor, and give us the stuff, no questions asked.

They’re wrong, and Schumer’s letter proves it. Here’s the “thrust of legislative history” from a senior legislator. The DOJ is using a treaty to do something it was not meant to do. They are shamefully abusing the intent of an international agreement, and they should be stopped.

Getting Gerry Adams: Norman Baxter’s Long Crusade

Getting Gerry Adams: Norman Baxter’s Long Crusade
FEBRUARY 13, 2012

Norman Baxter may find policing in Kabul these days more congenial than policing in Belfast. The former RUC and PSNI Detective Chief Superintendant is one of a number of senior Northern Ireland police officers who have decided that the new, reformed force is not for them, have taken redundancy and signed up with a private firm of “security consultants” with a contract from the Pentagon to help train the new Afghan police force.

Since leaving the Police Service of Northern Ireland in 2008, Baxter has spoken and written of his anger and frustration at changes which have seemed to him to belittle the sacrifices of Royal Ulster Constabulary in the long fight against the IRA and at policies brought in under the peace process which he believes now hamper the force in its continuing fight against terrorism. A year and a half ago, Baxter joined New Century, founded and led by Belfast-born Tim Collins, a commander in the Royal Irish Rangers who became a star of the British tabloid press in 2003 for a stirring speech he is said to have delivered to troops in Kuwait on the eve of their advance into Iraq. (The only record comes from an embedded Daily Mail reporter who claims that she took verbatim notes of the desert oration.)

The inclusion in New Century of a contingent of former NI police officers, as well as British soldiers with experience in covert operations in the North, indicates that Collins’ involvement in Iraq and now in Afghanistan hasn’t occluded his interest in affairs back home. Writing in the Daily Mail a few days after the Real IRA gun attack in Co. Antrim in 2009 which left two soldiers dead, he declared: “The emasculation of the old Royal Ulster Constabulary, once the world’s most effective anti-terrorist force, is largely to blame for this shambles…In its new guise as the PSNI, the force is so riddled with political correctness that many good old-fashioned coppers…have simply been sidelined. Nowadays, these old RUC professionals who haven’t been driven out work for MI5 as collators or clerks but take no part in operations. This is a disgrace.”

Collins’ rationale for throwing the doors of New Century open to those in the RUC/PSNI who hankered after the old days and the old ways is easily understandable. He will have anticipated that the techniques and experience which the RUC and British security services developed over 30 years combating the Provos and other paramilitary groups will have equipped them with the special skills needed to mentor Afghans training to fight the Taliban once Nato forces have left.

Baxter, a high-ranking officer who had become chief liaison officer between the police and MI5 in the North, will have been a natural. He has been joined in the upper echelons of New Century by a cluster of colleagues, including Mark Cochrane, former RUC officer in charge of covert training; David Sterritt, a 29-year RUC/PSNI veteran and specialist in recruitment and assessment of agents; Joe Napolitano, 25 years in the RUC/PSNI, retiring as a Detective Inspector running intelligence-led policing operations; Raymond Sheehan, 29 years a Special Branch agent handler; Leslie Woods, 27 years in the RUC/PSNI, with extensive Special Branch handling the selection, assessment and training of officers for covert intelligence-led operations. And many others.

Experience in the North is the single most common factor among recruits to senior positions with New Century.

New Century’s presence in Afghanistan and the involvement of veterans of the Irish conflict briefly surfaced in the mainstream British media last June when a former RUC man working for the company was killed in action in Helmand. Ex-RUC officer Ken McGonigle, 51, a father of four from Derry, died in an exchange of fire with two escaped Taliban prisoners.

Baxter had been a relatively well-known policing figure in the North for some years, regularly interviewed to provide a police view on security matters. His most prominent role had been to head the investigation of the Omagh bombing in August 1998, the most bloody attack of the Troubles. It is widely accepted now that the Omagh investigation was botched to an embarrassing degree – although there is no agreement on where blame lies. Baxter is not alone in believing that political considerations and the protection of security service “assets” North and South were major factors in the failure to bring the case to a conclusion

After leaving the PSNI in 2008, he was able to speak out with less restraint. He took a particular interest in the alleged involvement of senior Sinn Fein figures in IRA activities in the past.

The fact that the policing changes had been specifically designed to coax Sinn Fein into acceptance of the Northern State and thereby into a share of Executive power did nothing to sooth the disgruntlement of police officers resentful of reform. Baxter’s particular animus against Gerry Adams came through in a column in the Belfast Newsletter on March 30 2010, in which he urged the PSNI to launch a new investigation into the Sinn Fein leader’s alleged role in the 1972 abduction and killing of Jean McConville, the mother of 10 whose “disappeared” body was finally located on a beach in Co. Louth in 2003. He appears to have been the first figure of any note – certainly the first with a media presence and extensive police connections – to call publicly for action to subpoena video tapes held by Boston College, Massachusetts, in which two ex-IRA members claim that Adams, as a senior IRA commander in Belfast, had ordered the killing of Mrs. McConville and others of the “disappeared”.

Baxter’s intervention came within 24 hours of the publication on March 29 of “Voices From The Grave ”, the book by Ed Maloney based on interviews with senior IRA figure Brendan Hughes and UVF leader and Progressive Unionist Party politician David Ervine. Both men had recently died, allowing Maloney to publish the material: he had given assurances that none of it would be used while they were alive. The same assurance had been given to more than 20 other former paramilitaries, most of them ex-IRA, who had been interviewed by Maloney and his researcher Anthony McIntyre – himself a former IRA prisoner – and the tapes lodged with Boston College.

In the book, Hughes, once a close personal friend and paramilitary comrade of Adams, told that the man who was now an internationally respected figure had orchestrated the abduction and killing of Mrs. McConville.

“Although Brendan Hughes is now dead,” wrote Baxter in the Newsletter, “his evidence, which was recorded, may provide evidence which could lead the police to build a case for criminal proceedings.” His intense personal feelings were evident in his description of a recent appearance by Adams in a Channel 4 religious programme as “sickening” and in a suggestion that Mrs. McConville may have heard herself condemned “from the lips of a demon of death”.

The level of hatred – it is not too strong a word – of Baxter and many of his colleagues at the new status of individuals they had striven to extirpate from Northern Ireland society was unconcealed. “Sinn Fein and the IRA have a record of human rights abuse that would equal some Nazi units in the Second World War, and yet they currently wear the duplicitous clothes of human rights defenders with such ease.”

The pursuit of Adams and others will be seen by Baxter and his colleagues as unfinished business.

Baxter will have been well aware that a taped record of a conversation with a man who had since died is no basis for charging a senior political figure – or anyone – with murder. In the Newsletter, he urged Mrs. McConville’s family to try instead, or as well, to bring civil proceedings – where the standard of proof is less daunting than in a criminal case. Referring to Mrs. McConville’s daughter, he made a public appeal: “Helen McKendry should not be left in isolation to seek justice for her mother through civil proceedings. Civic society and democratic politicians should come together in a campaign to financially and morally support the McConville family.”

His bitter experience heading the Omagh investigation might have put the option of civil proceedings in Baxter’s mind. He had come to believe that shadowy forces had contrived to thwart his efforts.

At Omagh library in February 2006, Sam Kinkaid, the most senior detective in the North, told a meeting of relatives of the victims that MI5 had known months in advance that a bomb attack was planned for either Omagh or Derry, that one of those involved was an Omagh man whose name was known and that the bombers would use a Vauxhall Cavalier. MI5 passed this information to the gardai in the South, he went on – but not to the PSNI in the North. Baxter was seated alongside Kinkaid as he spoke, nodding vigorously. Kinkaid resigned from the PSNI the following morning.

Meanwhile, the Garda Special Branch had been running an informer who supplied information about a series of planned cross-border bomb raids by the Real IRA. Gardai decided to let a number of bombs through so as not to compromise the identity of the informer. Police in the North were not told about this. So there were no special security measures in place in or around Omagh when the bomb in a Vauxhall Cavalier was parked in Market Street on August 15, 1998.

Even after the explosion, with 29 people dead, none of this information was passed to Baxter’s investigation either.

The only person eventually charged with the Omagh atrocity was Sean Hoey, an electrician from south Armagh. He was acquitted in November 2009. The trial judge, Mr. Justice Weir, then launched a scathing attack on the investigation, accusing the police of “a slapdash approach” and condemning two named officers for “reprehensible” behaviour.

Remarkably, however, none of the relatives of the victims interviewed afterwards blamed Baxter or the men under him. Victor Barker, whose 12-year-old son James had perished in the blast, placed the blame much higher: “It is the appalling inefficiency of (Chief Constable) Sir Ronnie Flanagan that has meant that Chief Superintendant Baxter has not been able to secure a conviction”.

Many of the families were at one with Baxter in believing that the investigation had systematically been stymied by senior figures in policing and politics who had reason to be nervous about the full facts emerging and whose political agenda may have taken precedence over the safety of citizens and the pursuit of the perpetrators.

A number of families took Baxter’s advice and initiated a civil case for compensation against four men they believed had been involved in the bombing. In 2009, the four were found to have been responsible. Two were cleared on appeal. But the families were able to express some frugal satisfaction that at least they’d seen somebody held publicly accountable for the devastation which had befallen them.

It is hardly fanciful to trace Baxter’s loud advocacy of civil proceedings against Adams back to the Omagh experience which had confirmed his belief that “the world’s most effective anti-terrorist force” had been prevented from winning its war against the IRA by the machinations of people with no stomach for the fight. Getting Adams now, whether by civil or criminal proceedings, was a part of getting even.

It was against this background that the British authorities launched legal action to recover the Boston tapes. The suggestion came from the Historical Enquiries Team, established in 2006 to re-examine more than 3,000 unsolved cases of Troubles-related murder. The 100-strong team included Mike Wilkins, head of the Special Branch in Warwickshire in England until seconded to the HET in 2006. He had become HET chief investigations officer by the time he left in September 2010 – to join Baxter as training coordinator for the Afghan project. This was six months after Baxter’s call in the Newsletter for a new police investigation into the McConville case. The interconnections between these events have, inevitably, provided fodder for fevered speculation in Republican circles and on blogs and websites over recent months.

To the dismay of Maloney and McIntyre, Boston College decided not to contest a lower-court order to hand the tapes over. The archive is now in the custody of the court while Maloney and McIntyre continue legal action to try to prevent the material being passed on to the PSNI. It is a matter of speculation what the implication will be for Adams and others who have left paramilitarism behind if the tapes are handed over.

As he looks back on more than 30 frustrating years policing in the North, even as he assumes his new and more wide-ranging – and enormously more lucrative, one imagines – role in the global war on terror, Baxter may take grim satisfaction from the fact that he has some of his old enemies still in his sights. He may be cheered, too, by the thought that he won’t be confronted by the same defeatist attitudes and dark maneuvers in the freewheeling fight in Afghanistan as he faced in the constrained circumstances of Northern Ireland, that this time the good guys will get to win. Of course, he could be wrong about that.

Further Reading

CBS Evening News: Oral history of N. Ireland strife raises dilemma

Oral history of N. Ireland strife raises dilemma
By Mark Phillips
CBS News
February 9, 2012

(CBS News) Boston College is facing a crisis that’s both moral and legal. The school collected an oral history of the vicious war between Irish Protestants and Catholics — a history that includes many confessions of murder.

Boston College promised to keep the confessions secret, but now those secrets may now be exposed with potentially violent consequences. CBS News Mark Phillips reports on the complications involved.

During the three decades of Catholic-Protestant violence in Northern Ireland — and even in the 14 years since the peace deal — the worst crime after the bombing and killing itself has been to talk about it.

Too many deaths are still unsolved. Too many families still want revenge, or, like Seamus and Helen McKendry — justice.

“I mean it’s not just us,” said Seamus McKendry. “There are thousands of families here grieving still, never knowing what happened to their loved one. Everyone is entitled to the truth.”

And the truth — or at least a version of it — now exists on tape: Interviews recorded as part of an oral history project for Boston College on the promise that the confessions would be kept locked up in the college library until those who made them died.

Former IRA commander Brendan Hughes’ interview was released after he died in 2008. “I knew she was being executed — I knew that,” he said on tape.

Hughes’ confession from the grave concerns the 1972 killing of Helen McKendry’s mother, Jean McConville. A widowed mother of 10, McConville was abducted and murdered by the IRA on suspicion of being an informer.

“The front door got kicked open and they dragged my mother from the bathroom, and that’s the last that she was seen,” said Helen McKendry.

And Brendan Hughes’ testimony contained another bombshell — he says he knew who ordered the killing:Gerry Adams, now one of Northern Ireland’s main peace-makers, but who was long suspected of — and always denied — being an IRA commander himself.

“The special squad was brought on the operation there called the Unknowns. Gerry had control over this particular squad,” Hughes said on the tape.

But when a book containing Hughes’ and other revelations hit the streets, the Northern Irish police became involved. They wanted to know what other evidence of unsolved crimes might be under wraps in the Boston College library, and they subpoenaed the U.S. courts to get it.

After a legal battle, Boston College was compelled to hand its archive over. Its spokesman. Jack Dunn. now says the court will now decide whether to release it.

“We as a university are trying to fight the fight on behalf of oral history. but our ability to do so is limited in the face of a federal subpoena regarding a criminal investigation for horrific crimes,” said Dunn.

But many feel the school could have put up a much stronger fight to protect the interview archive. And that if it’s released, people like Anthony McIntyre, who conducted many of the interviews, could be hurt — or worse.

“I think the people who spoke are at risk,” he said.

McIntyre, a former IRA member who served time for murder himself, has now been labeled a traitor and informer by his once-IRA colleagues. He knows what that could mean.

“It demonizes a person and traditionally the IRA punishment for people that are accused of informing was death.”

The Boston College tapes have exposed the conflict between those who are seeking justice and those who are seeking peace. And it may be that in Northern Ireland these days, you can’t have both.

Security services making a killing from the Troubles

Security services making a killing from the Troubles
By Eamonn McCann
Belfast Telegraph
Friday, 27 January 2012

From the dusty wastelands of Afghanistan to Desertcreat in Co Tyrone, the G-men keep the memory of the B-men alive. The B Specials provided a sizeable percentage of the first recruits to RUC Special Branch. Now the FBI is sending its own recruits over here to learn from the Branch’s experience.

The first wave of G-men and G-women anxious to access local expertise gained in the battle against terrorism is expected to arrive at the £140m emergency services college near Cookstown in spring 2015.

“We have a real product to sell here,” said PSNI deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie last month. Facilities on the 250-acre Desertcreat site will be “world class”, she promised. “The FBI and other international law-enforcement agencies are interested in using the facilities for anti-terrorism and public order training”.

Counter-terrorism lore from the fight against the IRA and other paramilitary organisations will be passed on to FBI operatives in state-of-the-art surroundings, including a mock-up prison where conflict between staff and inmates can be re-enacted and a street complex where US law-enforcers can draw on Northern Ireland experience to practice and perfect their crowd control tactics.

What the paranoid schizophrenic cross-dressing closet queen J Edgar Hoover would have made of it all we can but guess. Irish subversives were by no means top of his target list during 48 years as FBI director. The Reds, the Mob and uppity blacks took priority.

But files released four years after his death, in 1976, contained 2,871 pages recording warrantless wiretapping, electronic eavesdropping and so forth directed against suspected IRA fundraisers and gunrunners. Some local veterans sharing their knowledge of conflict at Desertcreat seminars may find the students well ahead of them.

Experience in subverting republican and loyalist paramilitaries is also proving a valuable commodity elsewhere in the war against miscreants trying to subvert the new world order.

Charismatic Iraq war rhetorician Tim Collins’ New Century group last year won a $45m (£29m) Pentagon contract to train the Afghan army and police how to “find and cultivate informants among the Taliban”.

The Intelligence Online website reports that “most of the instructors are not US, but Northern Irish, former members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, which for many years was in the frontline of Britain’s combat with the IRA.”

The biography for Collins issued by New Century refers only in passing to his Iraq involvement, highlighting instead his experience as “operations officer of 22 SAS and subsequently commander of the Royal Irish Regiment in east Tyrone (Northern Ireland) . . . has worked closely with the Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch . . . assumed command of 1R[oyal] Irish in Jan[uary] 2001, where he led the battalion on operations again in Northern Ireland, for which he was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service.”

Three years ago, Collins wrote in the Daily Mail that, “the PSNI . . . is so riddled with political correctness that many good, old-fashioned coppers – who were expert in terrorism and the communities they worked in – have simply been sidelined.”

He will have had in mind such old-fashioned coppers as retired chief superintendant Norman Baxter, formerly chief liaison officer between Special Branch and MI5, now New Century’s director of doctrine, standards, audit and training.

Mark Cochrane, consultant programme manager (training and compliance) served for 28 years in the RUC/PSNI.

“For over 20 years, he was employed in counter-terrorism duties . . . was the officer in charge of covert police training within the PSNI.”

Human resources manager Steve Smith is a former commando who has “served on eight operational tours in Northern Ireland in support of the RUC/PSNI in areas as diverse as south Armagh and west Belfast”.

New Century’s training co-ordinator in Afghanistan is Mike Wilkins who, from September 2006 to September 2010, was based in Belfast as senior investigating officer with the Historical Enquiries Team (HET).

The company’s roster of political advisers is headed by Nancy Soderberg, her intelligence credentials apparently established during her stint as Bill Clinton’s point-woman on the north.

The $45m success of New Century shows what a tradable commodity experience gained in the fight against the IRA and other paramilitaries has become.

Now DCC Gillespie is bringing it all back home and making it available, at competitive rates no doubt, to the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies worldwide.

The two main parties, which together have spearheaded the drive for the Desertcreat facility, will be chuffed at how favourable the auguries now seem.

Gives the lie to begrudgers who claim that the struggle wasn’t worth it and brought nothing worthwhile.

See also:


Irish Radio Network, USA: Interview with Carrie Twomey

Irish Radio Network, USA – Adrian Flannelly Show
January 21, 2012

The Saga of the Boston College Belfast Oral History Project continues:
Carrie Twomey is the US citizen wife of Dr. Anthony McIntyre, former IRA volunteer and ex-prisoner who spent 18 years in Long Kesh, 4 years on the blanket and no wash/no work protests which led to the hunger strikes of the 80s. He then completed a PhD at Queens upon release from prison. Anthony McIntyre is the main researcher of the Oral History project at Boston College. He and his family are under death threat and the Northern Ireland Peace process will be challenged, should the US Federal Court subpoenaed confidential tapes be turned over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Listen to the archived show here:


Adrian Flannelly (AF) interviews Carrie Twomey (CT) about the subpoenas served on Boston College to obtain the archive known as The Belfast Project.

Adrian Flannelly (AF): Friends, you’re listening to Irish Radio Network USA. My guest is Carrie McIntyre, wife of Dr. Anthony McIntyre, former IRA Volunteer and ex-prisoner. Anthony McIntyre spent eighteen years in Long Kesh, four years on the blanket and he was very much was considered to be one of the patriots of Northern Ireland. And his wife, before we go into it much further, we’d like to point out that his wife, who is with us today, Carrie, is an American citizen, the mother of two American citizens. And somebody who is here very specifically at this point. You know, the Boston College, the tapes, the Oral History project of Boston College, has had many twists and turns and it is obviously very timely that you are here with us today because we have heard the manifestations, the positions of the three governments, Northern Ireland, the southern Ireland government, our own United States, Washington, State Department, the waters are very muddied. But this is not a casual visit of yours. You’re here very specifically because all of this is coming to a head Two hearings which will determine for history how a project, which everybody agrees was a great idea, has now turned into a Loch Ness monster. First of all you’re welcomed and I would be delighted if you’d share with us your side of the story, which to date, it looks like somehow there is a massive screw-up here; that fingers are pointing at Anthony McIntyre, they’re pointing at Ed Moloney, the journalist, who was a guest of ours on the program some time ago. It would appear though that you are not and have had not much of a voice in explaining how this is affecting you, as an American citizen, and your kids and your husband. Perhaps you will just maybe give us capsule, first of all, of your understanding of what brought about the Oral History program and what role your husband played in all of this.

Carrie Twomey (CT): Thank you very much, Adrian, for having me on the program. As you explained, this isn’t a casual here visit to The States, to America. I’m here specifically because I am extremely concerned for the safety of my family. As you noted, I’m an American citizen, as are my two children. And I have been lobbying in DC, meeting with Congress people, to protest this action which directly places our lives in danger. The Oral History project, as you noted, is a very valuable resource, not alone for Irish history, but for people that are studying conflict zones around the world and seeking to understand how people get involved in conflict and how to learn from the mistakes of the past. It’s a terrible shame that this action is having such a chilling effect on people being able to coming forward.

This project was started because Boston College had commissioned this and they had given cast iron guarantees of confidentiality until participants had either died or had given expressed written permission for these records to be released. This was something that Boston College was always very forthright [about]; that the confidentiality was something that they would protect. There has been some waters muddied, as you say, and fingers pointed, but from our position Boston College was always clear: that it was a tabernacle. They had agreed with Ed Moloney, they would draw up contracts guaranteeing to the extent of American law that the interviews would be kept confidential. And then they drew up those contracts which they gave to each participant. And those contracts were very specific. And they said that the confidentiality was guaranteed until the death of the participant or written permission had be given by that person for the records to be released. Nowhere in the contract that they drew up, that they have with each individual participant in this project, did it say there was any caveat, that there was any possibility that these records could be released in any other conditions. Even in the preface of Voices From the Grave….

AF: Which is the book written by Ed Moloney.

CT: Sorry, I was just saying even in the book, the preface, the librarian and the professor that were in charge of this, had said, and it’s in the first paragraph, that Boston College were contractually obligated to protect the confidentiality.

AF: Now it would appear, hindsight being a great thing, that Boston College is now saying and maintaining, that it was made very clear, that they were obviously not superseding any US laws which would be subject to subpoena so they’re saying: “Well, we’ve kept our end of it. Obviously this is the tabernacle, this is what…as far as we knew…this is something but heck, if we get a subpoena from the Attorney General of the United States, that’s out of our hands.”

CT: Well, I totally disagree. If they get a subpoena they’re obligated to fight it. And they’re obligated to use all of their powers, and contacts, and every ounce of their ability that they have to fight it. They have an obligation, which they had given when they had given the promise of confidentiality, to protect it. And this area of the law is nebulous; it’s not fully defined. We’re having a case of first impressions going on right now. And, in fact, our lawyers were able to secure a Motion for Stay that has stopped this hand-over. So there is room to fight this. And Boston College has the resources and ability to fight it and they have not.

I am extremely angry at the way that they have rolled over on this. They’re just playing with people’s lives. They made a corporate decision, just like Penn State. And instead of doing the right thing, instead of fulfilling their duty of care, they made a corporate decision to protect their institution and protect their funding and throw people’s lives to the winds over it. And that is just morally wrong and it’s completely unethical and I’m extremely angry about their behaviour.

AF: There’s enough anger from all sides and I’ve tried to give this platform to those of varied and very strong opinions and I must say though that, from the beginning, I did think that the curious initiation of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the suspected rogue elements within that institution, that somewhere along the line, either somebody dropped the ball, somebody perhaps naively rubber stamped the request and even, we had the Secretary of State from Northern Ireland and when he was here he pretty much said: (paraphrasing Owen Patterson) “Well, we didn’t start it. This was something that happened. And obviously if you have a police investigation and if they’re to do their job well then that’s not for us to tell them how to do it and whatever.” Let’s talk about the rumour, let’s talk about your own reaction to those who say, that the release of those tapes could, in fact, bring down, demolish the peace process as we know it in Northern Ireland. Is that a common point of acceptance among all the varied now fighting groups, including…?

CT: Absolutely. Absolutely. The Good Friday Agreement effectively drew a line over the past and said pre-1998, we’re going to leave in the past where it belongs. More than ten years later, to start raking up the past, and start doing selective prosecutions, and start aiming to bring somebody like Gerry Adams in front of a criminal court or, as we suspect, in the Omagh style, bringing him in front of a civil court. It’s going to be hugely destabilising on the peace process. All three governments have invested in bringing Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein to the table and getting them into political power so that we could have peace; so that Nationalists and Republicans would have a voice in government. And then to turn around and put the leader of this party into the court is just madness! It will open up room. The Unionists can bring down the institutions. It will cause problems within Republicans ranks. We’ve already seen that the area is completely unstable. We had two bombs in Derry last night, with the horrible economy in Ireland, which leaves (us) with a lot of angry people that would be looking for somewhere to vent their anger. This is just complete madness to open up this can of worms to satisfy some rogue elements in the RUC that are still are in the HET. I mean, there’s a huge controversy going on right now with the amount of former RUC people that are being hired by a recruitment agency and filling the ranks of the PSNI.

AF: Somebody filled out the initial form. Somebody’s signature is on it. Do we know who that is?

CT: No we don’t. The subpoena was sealed. And this is one thing that we are seeking in DC: we want a Congressional hearing into finding out who approved this on both sides of the water. Who failed to ask the questions? Who failed to look at the political implications of this? Who failed to recognise the treaty aspects that relate to the Good Friday Agreement? Who did not consider the sense of the Senate when they passed the extradition treaty at the same time as the MLAT where the British government said we’re not looking at pre-1998 crimes? Who was the person that presented this as purely criminal, as a hot investigation, that needed to be solved immediately and did mention the fact that this was a crime that occurred in 1972 and had not been investigated by the police for forty years? Who is responsible for this? And who, basically, failed in their duty? Because a lot of people did fail in this duty and did not ask the right questions when this landed on their desk.

AF: We have seen a reversal in the very infamous Finucane case, which has been going on for more than twenty years. We saw something which was announced as the final decision from 10 Downing Street where the Finucane family, who had wanted and had asked for an independent investigation into the murder of Pat Finucane, the lawyer. We have seen and experienced first hand, and very recently, open and shut cases: (mimicking the Brits) “This is the way that it is. We are going to have our own investigation. We don’t particularly care that you and your supporters and that those who are interested in human rights and civil rights.. we don’t care about all of that. This is what we’re going to do….end of story.” And we see, that with appropriate pressure and much to the chagrin I am sure, of the British government, that they have backed down and said: (mimicking the Brits) “Okay, now we’re going to have..yes, we’ve re-thought it.” There are some cynics ho say wthat say somehow the coincidence of that decision being made this week as the eruption of and the significance of the Boston tapes that maybe there’s some connections there and maybe the issues of the Boston tapes which some would say well this is much ado about nothing because these are just the factions within the Northern Ireland peace process and, in fact, well… should Carrie McIntyre have a vested interest in the outcome of this?” But generally speaking, if we were to weigh, now the level of interest and the level of support for both cases here, the Finucane case and the reversal and this, this is something which is garnering much more interest than the hot potato that is and will be rolled out as the result of the release of the Oral History tapes at Boston College.

CT: Well, of course I have a vested interest in this. I have no problem admitting (that) up front. I do have a very vested and very personal interest in this because this will directly affect the safety of my family. However, it’s good that you bring up the Finucane case because it shows the British double standard at work. They are refusing to hand-over their papers on the Finucane case. As they are refusing to hand-over their papers on Dublin-Monaghan. Again, this is selective prosecution. This is selective investigation. This is selective truth. This is something where the wider society needs to be able to get to the truth so that rather than putting a chilling effect, which is what this subpoena is doing, on any future abilities to get people to tell their stories, this is putting a kibosh on it. But this is while the British state is protecting their own interest. Even Sammy Wilson, interestingly enough, when the House of Commons were discussing aspects of a truth commission, came out and said that he is very against the idea of subpoenas because of the danger to the British state that that poses.

He made the point, that in general, there are no records for the other organizations but there are records for security forces, and British military and the British state and they can be subpoenaed. And this sets a precedent that is not in the UK’s interest in that sense because people can then bring action against them. So this is insane for all governments involved. This is so destabilising. And American foreign policy? This completely goes against all the good work they have done in attempting to get peace in Northern Ireland. And in terms of America’s own self-interest: there are Oral Histories currently being collected from Iraq war veterans; from veterans of Afghanistan. When the US Attorney makes the argument there’s no such thing as an academic embargo, this is going to put American people in jeopardy as well. Nobody is thinking to the future. You have this knee-jerk, bigoted reaction from rogue RUC elements that are looking for vengeance or retribution pursuing this, they’re not looking beyond their nose on this. People who have common sense or in positions of responsibility, need to be acting in the interest of the wider picture.

AF: Your husband, Dr. Anthony McIntyre, how would you define his role in the establishment of the tapes, the Oral History tapes and Boston College? Can you walk us through that?

CT: My husband, as you noted his past, he spent eighteen years in Long Kesh, four years of that on the blanket and no-wash protest, which was not an easy thing to do or go through. He earned his degree, his first degree, while he was in prison and he completed a PhD upon release. He is one of the foremost experts on Irish Republicanism, modern Irish Republicanism. (quips) He doesn’t like it when I say that but, you know, I’m his wife, I’m entitled. He is academically trained and qualified; he is an historian, [and] he is a writer. He also has the IRA background which made him perfectly positioned to be able to compile an Oral History like this which is so unique and so valuable because of that. You have academics that come from either outside Ireland or who did not grow up in The Troubles or did not have a background such as his and their understanding and the questions that they would be asking are very different from what his experience and his academic training would allow him to be able to ask. And in addition to that, the answers that he would be given would be very different. It allows a more thorough and interesting probing of history which is what made this so incredibly valuable and so special for the future. And there was a reason that the confidentiality was not say [the same as], for example, the decommissioning papers, are in the same library under a thirty year embargo. The Oral History ones are until death. This is something that is so highly sensitive but so important for history. We would be so worse off without having these kind of Oral Histories combined.

AF: Explain to me why the terms of the contract which each of the participants for this Oral History, and this was just not from the Republican side this was from all those involved in the armed struggle in Northern Ireland, why did somebody not stand back from that in the beginning and say: “Wait a minute, if the Oral History of any of the participants can be and should be released at the death of the first participant, won’t that open up a whole mess?” that would invariably, even at a fairly naïve approach, when the first of those tapes are released wouldn’t that involve you, the safety of your family? Why wasn’t there an embargo on that for twenty years or thirty years or something?

CT: Well, Brendan Hughes and David Ervine are the only tapes that have been publicly released. And Brendan Hughes actually had wanted his released before he died but he was cautioned against it because of the safety of the rest of the people that had participated in the project.

AF: In hindsight, though, wouldn’t that kind of defeat the whole purpose? Why should the tapes be released upon their death if in fact…?

CT: Because part of the way that the confidentiality works is that the individual interviews are anonymous. They are anonymous until the death of the participant. So as long as the interviewees remain anonymous…up until the subpoena came and Boston completely rolled over and gave everything to the court, up until that point, it was not known how many people participated in this project; it could have been three, it could have been a hundred, nobody would have known. But Boston rolled over and gave everything to the court and now the specific details of that are known.

AF: Why would Brendan Hughes want to have his tapes released before his death or immediately upon his death?

CT: Upon his death. Because Brendan Hughes was somebody who was very, very strongly of the opinion that you should speak your conscience and you should speak your truth.

AF: What about the jeopardy level that that puts everybody else in?

CT: Because he was speaking his story. He wasn’t speaking anybody else’s story. And the other interviewees remained anonymous and, to a large extent, are still anonymous. So it was not putting theirs in jeopardy. The existence of the project was known, it was not widely known but it was known that this project existed before he died and then with the publication of it…it was known. It was a safety concern, yes. And in fact, my neighbours’ house was attacked with faeces on the date of the publication, we believe it was a mistake and they meant to get our house; their letter box, and their car, and their door was smeared with excrement. And there were threats made to my husband at the time of the publication which we were very concerned about. You can look on my affidavit and you’ll see the headline “You’re Dead!”, which was not comforting to see. My husband did not participate in any of the press of the time of the book for the concerns of safety. It’s a fine line to straddle because it is important. And I think Brendan Hughes was 100% right when he said if there’s something that you disagree with or if there’s something you believe in you need to speak out and follow your conscience. And that’s very much what that book was Brendan doing. And there are times you have to stand up and face risk. And this is part of why we’re fighting this case as hard as we are, too. We can’t do what Boston did and roll over. We have to stand up and face things and fight for what is right.

AF: But you’ve been down that road. You’ve had very prominent, good, reliable lawyers (I don’t know if you want to mention them by name or not) but you’ve had a great level of support from Irish-America and still it would appear that your case got very little attention paid to it by virtue of the over-all, the fact that Boston College didn’t link up with you and that your lawyers would not, that your lawyers went down a different road than Boston College that wound up to be counter-productive.

CT: Our lawyers have actually secured far more than Boston College has. Boston College tries to paint the fact that they had to give over everything to the Judge as some sort of victory; which is not a victory. Our lawyers, who we are very grateful to, Eamonn Dornan and Jim Cotter, they have presented an excellent argument. And we are fighting an admittedly uphill battle. But we are still in the ring and we are still fighting. And they were able to secure a Motion for Stay that stopped the hand-over. We are hopeful they’re going to be successful in this complaint that is going to be heard on Tuesday in Boston.

AF: On this Tuesday…

CT: On this Tuesday in Boston. And then the hearing on the Motion for Stay will be heard in March. So we’re still in with a fighting chance. And it is down to the good work that has been done by Eamonn Doran and Jim Cotter and those people in The Brehon Society, like Jim Cullen, who’ve been supporting [our case]; and the Irish-American Unity Conference, I mean, we have had a tremendous amount of support from Irish-America which we are so, so grateful for.

AF: Hey! The bottom line is: the tapes turned over to the courts, the courts adhering to the request, all of this goes back to Northern Ireland to the PSNI, most definitely it will result in another investigation involving Gerry Adams.

CT: This subpoena is specifically about the McConville case. And specifically about the allegations made that Gerry Adams ordered… (AF interrupts)

AF: Tell us about McConville.

CT: Jean McConville was the mother of ten who was abducted and murdered by the IRA for being an informer. And the problem for Gerry Adams is that he is alleged to have been the IRA Chief who ordered her disappearance. And specifically her disappearance because unlike most informers, she was “disappeared”. She was not left out on the road as a message or a warning to people. And that’s going to cause huge problems if this ever goes into a court for Gerry Adams. Especially with all his denials of having never been in the IRA. And those denials are something that do not set well with the rank and file grass roots. And it really didn’t set well with people like Brendan Hughes. It’s a very deep betrayal for people that followed Gerry Adams’ leadership in the IRA, followed his orders, for him to turn around and continue to deny ever having been in the IRA.

AF: You realise by that your saying this right now…you are, in fact, you’re feeding an element that says: Okay, obviously the the McIntyres and the Moloneys and so forth could care less about the fact that they’ve already, you’ve already taken sides, and that in fact nobody believes stronger than your good self, that Gerry Adams ordered that murder; that Ed Moloney has all but said that he believes that Gerry Adams was in that position. So therefore, those who might normally be very supportive of you and the real danger you are in, and many others, it’s not just you but many others, that obviously there are two factions that are there: you’re on one side and the Gerry Adams’ followers would be on the other.

CT: This is an historical project. This is a project of history not a project of fiction. I’m sorry but the fact that Adams was never in the IRA is a piece of fiction. What would be the point of creating an historical archive that was fictional? There would be no point. Niall O’Dowd had a piece in The Irish Echo last week which I found just…(AF interrupts)

AF: The Irish Voice.

CT: The Irish Voice, you’re right, I’m sorry. He had a piece in The Irish Voice which was just amazing because in one paragraph he says that Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre are legally inexperienced. And in the next paragraph he says that Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre were able to dupe the gullible Boston College. So what is it? Are these people legally inexperience, stupid, unintelligent or are they so legally experienced and so intelligent that they are able to dupe a law school into this? I mean this is just absolutely ridiculous…(AF interrupts)

AF: An internationally renown…

CT: Law School! That was the one that drew up the contracts. This is something that they do this all the time. I’m glad you sort of came back to this because the decommissioning papers that were put together under the Irish and UK law. And in Ireland and in the UK they have confidentiality laws that were written to protect these decommissioning papers. They were deposited in the same library, under the same librarians as the Oral History project and under similar conditions. The only difference being that there’s a thirty years embargo versus an until death embargo. Now, there’s a big problem: because there’s no such thing as an academic embargo according to the US Attorney. And the UK laws and the Irish laws that were written to protect the confidentiality of the decommissioning body are UK and Irish laws, they are not American laws. These papers are in American jurisdiction. These papers are under the same arguments that the US Attorney is now making saying that they’re not protected. So what is to stop people from following same path as the HET did and subpoenaing these papers?…(AF interrupts)

AF: What’s the HET?

CT: The Historical Enquiries Team, the arm of the PSNI that’s investigating the McConville case. What is to stop somebody like Jeffery Donaldson upsetting that apple cart and saying we want to get information about the weapons that were decommissioned. Okay, Micheál Martin, leader of Fianna Fáil, posed these same questions. He says there’s a huge problem with the integrity of Boston College; they’re obviously not willing to protect the material and he’s put it to the Minister of Justice, Alan Shatter: what are you going to so about this? What’s going to happen? And Alan Shatter has said we are prudently watching this, we’re okay with it but we’re keeping an eye on it. He says he doesn’t think it’s conceivable that the British would want to break this embargo and get…(AF interrupts)

AF: Somebody does.

CT: Well, here’s the thing: exactly! Boston College didn’t think it was conceivable that the British would want to get into the Oral History archive and here they are. But in terms of the decommissioning papers it doesn’t even have to be the British or the Irish. Say a victims’ group goes to somebody in Germany who was a victim of the IRA. And German citizens petition their government and the German government goes to the American government under the same treaty and puts the same arguments that the US Attorney is using right now and says we want access to the decommissioning papers to see if there is any relevant information about the weapons that were used in the attacks on German soil.

AF: Okay, so far we have not addressed and I would like you to address, where the real power and where the real strength is, and we have our own Attorney General in the United States could have put and “X” through this to begin with. We have obviously a Secretary of State, Senator Hillary Clinton and President Clinton, who invested a tremendous amount of their efforts and energies, the United States, there would not be, and I say this without fear of contradiction, there would not be a Good Friday Agreement, there would not be a Belfast Agreement, for those who would prefer to see it in that light, were it not for the United States, were it not for George Mitchell, Senator George Mitchell, were it nor for President Clinton and now Secretary of State Clinton. Why is it, that with that level of interest with all of those who have taken big chunks out of their lifetimes, out of their careers, to insure something as extraordinary, in the real sense, as the Good Friday Agreement, the peace process in Northern Ireland. How is it that we’re still messing around with what appears to be factions and nitpicking while something which could bring down and totally disrupt at best, and in fact, shatter the peace process in Northern Ireland? Why?

CT: This is why I’m asking for a Congressional hearing to be held enquiring into this. Did this happen? Why go against American foreign policy? You’re 100% right that Americans were extremely instrumental in bringing the Good Friday Agreement together. We all know how many years George Mitchell spent, The Mitchell Principles are named after him on that. So we want to get to the bottom of this and find out who wasn’t thinking on this.

AF: But who wasn’t thinking now? Look, the subpoenas can be withdrawn…today…tomorrow.

CT: Yes. Which we highly recommend that the Department of Justice do so and that White House get involved and tell them: Hey, withdraw this. This is going against our interests. I think there’s alot of conspiracy theories, there’s alot of speculation; I tend to find the simplest explanation is generally the truest one. And in terms of bureaucracy and government…I think that this slipped through. I think that there was some shenanigans played on the UK side. I think they presented it as a purely criminal investigation; they did not alert the US side to the political implications and whoever’s desk it landed on didn’t think to ask. And it was just a complete screw-up.

AF: There’s a hearing this Tuesday. Explain what that is.

CT: Tuesday’s hearing: We had originally filed a Motion to Intervene on the original subpoena case which was denied on the same day that Boston College’s Motion to Quash was denied. So we immediately filed an injunction and we filed our own separate complaint which is going to be heard on Tuesday in the lower court by Judge Young, the same Judge that heard the Motion to Quash. The DOJ filed a Motion to Dismiss. So this is being heard in Boston on Tuesday. Funnily enough, it’s being heard at Boston College, of all places.

AF: You don’t expect to get a cup of tea and a sandwich there, do you?

CT: Oh, I will be there. I will be there. This is part of why I’m here. Because this is not about papers in an archive. This is about people’s lives. And I’m going to be sitting there and I am going to be making it very clear.

AF: I am very understanding and in full sympathy. I clearly understand where you are. I would hope that this will go away on Tuesday. I hope that this does not have to drag on into March. I can also say, though that , if I were in your position, I would definitely understand that this about you, this about your husband, this about your two kids, and rightly so. For those of us who have invested a lot of our time and our energy and our support and those of us who are delighted that there is a Good Friday Agreement in addition to supporting you, your family. I also think that somebody is not looking at the gravity of the situation and if we don’t we’re walking into an horrific situation here. You’re here, I’m delighted you’re here, but I’m also delighted that you are getting to speak to say, Peter King, somebody who again, was one of many, when you have the Jim Cullens, when you have all of those, The Brehon Law Society. This is a community that has invested a lifetime of careers in getting us to where we are today. In a few days from now…in three day’s time this can boil over, this can be very destructive or this can be a focal point where somebody gets real here and knows that this is not just a mother and a wife but that this is a situation which is already out of hand, there’s no point in saying it’s not. This is one that has taken off like a very destructive fire. For those who are listening to this program I think that we really have to do something. We can’t sit back and see how this is going to play out.

CT: No, we can’t. And this would undo all the good, hard work that has been done over the years by specifically Irish-Americans to bring peace to Northern Ireland, to set up these institutions. In a sense I am here directly to plead for my life and my family’s life. But I’m here also as a surrogate for everybody else who participated in this project. We are very concerned about the safety of the Loyalists who participated in this and all the other Republicans that participated in this. And wider than that, all the people that could be directly affected by this. And especially if this upsets the apple cart and totally ruins the stability which is very fragile, very, very fragile in the North. Things are not bedded down. Things are not bedded down there and they can go off at any minute and we do not want to see this Boston College issue to be the spark that sets off the tinderbox.

AF: I wish you luck. (CT interjects: Thank you.) And I hope that sanity will prevail. And I don’t want to be among those who points my own finger at whatever. All I know this is an horrific situation and somewhere and somehow is shifting the blame from one to the other, we’ll have plenty of time actually to analyse that if the subpoenas are withdrawn. We can then at our own ease, we can take sides. Right now this is life threatening, lives are going to be affected; the safety, the security. But above and beyond all of that, the Good Friday Agreement, the peace process in Northern Ireland, will definitely not be what it is today. And has the potential, and I don’t want to be scaremongering here, but it does have the potential of having a terrible crash which won’t take years at all. This is going to come down on top of us. Whereas it is relatively simple right now. And I think we should look directly at Washington we should look directly at our political leaders, all who have a rightful place in celebrating the American contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process. And they have to get off their backsides, right now.

CT: Write your Congress people, call your Congress people, call your Representatives, raise this issue. Ask them to do whatever they can to get this withdrawn. This is for peace in Northern Ireland. This is for peace and stability. Another sad thing about this is that this is: a truth commission is something really, really needed. Which is going to make it impossible for people to get. That is the vital ingredient of any peace process: is to be able to deal with the past. And this needs to be withdrawn. And that is something that is a vital ingredient at the end of any peace process. This needs to be withdrawn. It’s a huge wall that has been built, damage that it has been done in terms of a truth commission people willing to come forward. The Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains has already been publicly saying that this has had a terrible effect on people coming forward to them helping families finding their loved ones. This is just so the wrong thing to so. And any help people can give…

AF: In order of importance we need to get immediate action and we need to get those subpoenas withdrawn, withheld, put in the bins, whatever that takes. And then hash out…there’s no rush on this. I don’t know who feels that all of this is due yesterday. It appears that all involved have spent much more time either pointing fingers, getting out from under…and then in the meantime this is disasterous on the personal level. I obviously hope that for you, for your family. And for all the families in the same position. It’s not like it’s just your family.

CT: No, there’s far too many.

AF: And again, rather than us waiting to see what the hell is gonna happen next Tuesday or what’s gonna happen in March, we’ve got to get to those who, many of whom aren’t even aware of the severity of the situation. We need to get to them and we need to make sure, and again without taking sides situation we need to get to them and again without taking side

CT: That’s missing the point of the Big Picture. The Big Picture is exactly what you’re talking about. We need to have the stability. We need to have the peace process. We can fight this out afterwards; but the Big Picture. And specifically for Americans that maybe not have been following the peace process: You have the issue of a foreign government who is using a treaty to invade American academic libraries. You have the issue of the First Amendment. You have the issues of the protection of sources. You have the chilling effect on Oral History; which is a history that is important to all cultures around the world. You have the fact that conflict zones from around the world, not just Ireland, depositing their papers here in the US. This is a much bigger issue. There are things that while we may that we disagree on the internal aspects of the Irish dimension This thing is something we can all agree; we need to put aside whatever differences on.

AF: Above all, as I see it, we need to make sure that anything that America contributes to will not jeopardise one more life in Northern Ireland.

CT: Exactly.

AF: Friends, you’re listening to Irish Radio Network USA.

(Interview ends)

Boston tapes ‘give hope to victims’

Boston tapes ‘give hope to victims’
News Letter
Published on Sunday 15 January 2012

TERRORISTS who confessed their membership of illegal organisations and their crimes to Boston College researchers may have unwittingly led to the solving of their own crimes.

The man who headed the investigation into the Omagh Bomb, former detective chief superintendent Norman Baxter, said that any confessions on the Boston College tapes would be admissible in court if the PSNI can win a court battle to gain custody of several recordings.

The PSNI is known to have requested several tapes, including those relating to the abduction and murder of west Belfast mother Jean McConville.

But Mr Baxter told the News Letter that the police and the Government had a duty to press for every recording to be handed over if they are serious about solving Troubles atrocities.

And the senior officer, who retired in 2008, said that politicians should be pressing the police to get the whole archive and see whether they can re-investigate scores of Troubles murders.

In a searing article for the News Letter in 2010 in which he compared some IRA crimes to some of those by Nazi units, Mr Baxter called on the chief constable to urgently appoint a senior detective to conduct a proper investigation into the murder of Mrs McConville.

Speaking last night, he said: “Access to the Boston papers is absolutely vital in the process to establish the truth concerning the murders of so many victims in the Northern Ireland Troubles.

“The PSNI are to be commended for commencing the legal process to gain access to this material.

“Justice for the victims demands that every possible action is taken by the authorities to collect information and intelligence on the criminals who perpetrated some of the worst crimes known to humanity.

“The Boston interviews would provide the reasonable grounds to arrest these terrorists for the crimes they have confessed to on tape; and indeed, subject to the rules of evidence, could form the basis of criminal charges against those who have confessed.

“The Boston project should therefore lead to the arrest and potential charging of scores of terrorists and help bring closure to the families of the victims of loyalist and republican terror.

“Politicians should encourage the PSNI to seek possession of all the recordings and statements to help seek justice and truth for the families of the victims.”

Mr Baxter also called on those who had collected the confessions to cooperate fully with the police in solving murders.

He added: “Justice is for all and the law should be applied to everyone including journalists, academics and researchers.

“Everyone who is aware that an arrestable offence has been committed and has information on that crime has a legal obligation to pass this information expeditiously to the police.”

Journalists Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, two of those involved in the project, have said that they will not cooperate with any criminal investigation emerging from the tapes.

On Wednesday the News Letter reported their fears that the PSNI’s success in the court action – which to their fury Boston College has declined to appeal – will now stop any paramilitary from telling the truth of what happened during the Troubles.

Both men have now initiated their own legal action in an attempt to keep the tapes secret and a hearing at the end of this month is expected to decide the case.

Mr McIntyre, a former IRA man who is now a trenchant critic of Sinn Fein, conducted the republican interviews.

He said: “No one would have been interested in giving frank interviews unless there were stringent guarantees and I would never have been involved without those guarantees.”

Mr McIntyre said that the relationship between those who conducted the interviews and Boston College had now broken down and accused the Jesuit-founded university of “putting the institution ahead of the interviewees”.

He and Mr Moloney have now called for the destruction of the archive – something which would destroy what may be some of the most historically significant artefacts relating to the Troubles.

Mr Moloney has suggested that the British Government is not keen to win the court battle and would like it to “go away”.

And he called for an amnesty for past terrorists – something which unionists have made clear they would oppose – in an attempt to help people talk openly about what happened in past decades.

The New York-based journalist and author said: “It is one thing pursuing people who are continuing to oppose the process but there is a distinction between them and those who said they were ending this with a compromise that a lot of their people didn’t like but they were going to do it and the assumption – and practice – was until recently that there would be no retribution.

“But that’s not happening, according to this.

“If this goes forward, anyone in the PSNI who is capable of reading a book or a newspaper is going to realise that this will involve in some way the leadership of organisations like the Provisionals who were the architects of the peace process.”

Last week, the family of Mrs McConville made clear that they want to see the police do all within their power – including accessing the tapes – to bring her killers to justice.

See also:


Boston College Must Release Oral-History Records, but Court Will Review Them First

Boston College Must Release Oral-History Records, but Court Will Review Them First
By Jennifer Howard
Chronicle of Higher Education
December 19, 2011

A federal court has denied Boston College’s motion to thwart a government request for sensitive oral-history records. But the court will review those records confidentially on Wednesday before it decides what, if anything, must be handed over to federal authorities.

A spokesman for the college said it was happy with the decision because the court acknowledged the need to protect confidential research.

Friday’s ruling, by the U.S. District Court in Boston, rejected the college’s request to quash the subpoenas for material from what’s known as the Belfast Project. In the project, from 2001 to 2006, researchers and journalists conducted interviews with paramilitary fighters and others who lived through the decades-long sectarian conflict Northern Ireland, always with the promise that the talks would be confidential until they died.

Boston College holds the tapes and transcripts of the project, including interviews with two members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes. They alleged that Gerry Adams, head of Sinn Fein, the IRA’s political arm, ran a kidnapping ring suspected of involvement in the death of Jean McConville, a Protestant mother of 10 who was kidnapped and killed in 1972. Mr. Hughes died in 2008, and the college has turned over the records of his interviews.

The U.S. Department of Justice subpoenaed the interview records on behalf of the British government. Under what’s known as a mutual-legal-assistance treaty, the two countries help each other in certain criminal proceedings. The Belfast Project records are being sought “in reference to alleged violations of the laws of the United Kingdom,” the court said, including kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder.

‘Heightened Scrutiny’

The case has created concern among scholars, especially oral historians, who rely on confidentiality in the conduct of their research. Chris Bray, a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of California at Los Angeles and a regular contributor to the history blog Cliopatria, has been a vocal critic of the proceedings.

The court’s ruling “means that there’s no such thing as confidential research, if a foreign government wants your research material,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Chronicle. “Academic researchers have fewer protections from foreign governments than we do from our own government. The way the DOJ [the Justice Department] applies mutual-legal-assistance treaties, and the way the courts interpret them, the door to the archives is wide open.”

In Friday’s ruling, Judge William G. Young agreed with Boston College’s position that requests for “confidential academic information” must be treated with “heightened scrutiny.” He noted that forced disclosure generally hurts “the free flow of information.” But he also said that the allegations involved were serious and “weigh strongly in favor of disclosing the confidential information.”

Boston College is “very pleased” with the decision, according to the spokesman, Jack Dunn. “It’s the outcome we hoped for,” he said. “In agreeing to review the research materials in camera,the court granted Boston College the relief it was seeking by providing us with guidance on what materials, if any, are relevant and need to be produced.” The ruling “recognizes the importance of protecting academic research and oral-history projects,” he said.

The college will not seek a stay of the ruling, Mr. Dunn said. “We took this legal position,” he said, “to protect the enterprise of oral history, to protect the participants who had been assured of confidentiality, and to protect peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland that we have promoted as a university for more than four decades.”

Boston College urged to remain silent

Boston College urged to remain silent
GERRY MORIARTY, Northern Editor
The Irish Times
Saturday, May 14, 2011

A WRITER and a former IRA prisoner have urged Boston College to resist attempts to force the college to disclose information provided to them by former republican and loyalist paramilitaries.

Boston College has been subpoenaed by the US attorney general’s office to release information that was provided in confidence to the college in an oral history project about the conflict in Northern Ireland.

The attorney general is acting at the behest of the authorities in the UK. PSNI detectives are hoping that this action will compel the college to release interviews provided by the late Brendan “the Dark” Hughes and Dolours Price, both of whom were former convicted senior IRA figures.

Detectives are seeking information that would relate to allegations and suggestions by Mr Hughes and Ms Price that Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams ran an IRA unit that was involved in several abductions and disappearances, including the disappearance of murder victim Jean McConville.

Mr Adams has repeatedly denied these allegations.

Author Ed Moloney used interviews Mr Hughes and the late David Ervine gave to the college as material for his recent book Voices From the Grave.

Former IRA prisoner Anthony McIntyre conducted the interview with Mr Hughes, a former senior IRA figure and estranged friend of Mr Adams.

Wilson McArthur, who is from a loyalist background, interviewed the former UVF prisoner and leader of the Progressive Unionist Party David Ervine. More than 50 other republican and loyalist paramilitaries have also given detailed interviews to Boston College, again based on the academic guarantee that details would not be disclosed until after their deaths.

Mr Moloney, who is now living in New York, deplored the attempt to compel the college to release details of the interviews. “I very much hope and expect that Boston College will resist this,” he said.

“It is very important that there is the freedom to write and chronicle history while it is still possible to do so, and to get accounts from people who were directly involved. This is vital,” he added.

“Part of the problem is that the conflict lasted so long. Unlike the Anglo-Irish War we can’t wait 20 years to interview people. If we don’t do this exercise now then we can forget it because a lot of the people will be dead,” said Mr Moloney.

“It is important to collect these valuable insights which help explain how and why the conflict happened, and to help prevent future conflicts.”

A spokesman for the college said: “Boston College is reviewing the subpoena from the US attorney’s office and is requesting additional information in light of the ramifications it poses regarding the safety of the interviewers and the impact on oral history projects as an academic enterprise.”

Researcher Anthony McIntyre, who had a number of disagreements with Mr Adams, said he suspected that the subpoena was motivated by a “British state agenda to embarrass Gerry Adams”.

“The college must resist this with all the force it can muster,” he added.

This move could have serious implications for similar history projects. “This is our worst-case scenario,” Mary Marshall Clark, the director of the oral history research office at Columbia University, New York told yesterday’s New York Times.

PSNI study claim over Adams and McConville

PSNI study claim over Adams and McConville
News Letter
Published on Thursday 28 October 2010

POLICE are examining an RTE documentary that raised allegations about Gerry Adams and the death of Jean McConville.

The PSNI confrmed that they were studying the programme, after TUV leader Jim Allister called for the arrest of the Sinn Fein president.

The documentary Voices From The Grave, which was broadcast in the Republic on Tuesday night, was based on the recent book of the same name by Ed Moloney.

The book and documentary have drawn on audio testimony by Brendan Hughes, a former IRA hunger striker who died in 2008, and David Ervine, the UVF man and Progressive Unionist Party leader, who died in 2007.

The pair were among contributors to an archive at Boston College in America, in which former paramilitaries have spoken candidly about their role in the Troubles on the condition that their interviews will only be released after their deaths.

The book’s release earlier this year sparked controversy over Mr Hughes’s suggestion that the abduction and murder of Ms McConville was ordered by Mr Adams, who has always denied IRA membership.

The Catholic mother of 14 was seized from her home in west Belfast in December 1972 and killed for reasons that have never been explained. Theories range from her having been an informer to her having been seen comforting a dying British soldier.

Ms McConville became one of the most famous of the so-called ‘disappeared’ during the three decades that her body was missing, before her remains were found in 2003.

Mr Allister said: “The fresh revelations linking Gerry Adams to the Jean McConville kidnapping and murder should cause his arrest and questioning about one of the most harrowing and heartless terrorist murders of the Troubles.”

Asked whether police were taking any action in light of the documentary, a PSNI spokesman said: “Police are studying the contents of the book and the programme.”

Mr Allister said that “no-one believes Adams’ lies about his past, yet he heads a party sitting at the heart of government”.

He added that the programme “adds to the dismay of law-abiding citizens” about how “in the new Northern Ireland Adams and his ilk are immune from being made amenable” for their past.

A spokesman for the SDLP, which sent out a press release reminder on Tuesday that the documentary was being shown, would only say yesterday: “We are letting Brendan speak for himself from beyond the grave.”

A Sinn Fein spokesman at Stormont said yesterday that due to the recess, he was unable to get anyone within the party to respond to Mr Allister.

See also:


Adams should be arrested

Adams should be arrested
26 October 2010

Statement by TUV Leader Jim Allister:-

“The fresh revelations linking Gerry Adams to the Jean McConville kidnapping and murder should cause his arrest and questioning about one of the most harrowing and heartless terrorist murders of The Troubles.

“No one believes Adams’ lies about his past, yet he heads a party sitting at the heart of government and put there by those who know, but seemingly don’t care, about the blood-stained pedigree of their loathsome partner.”

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