Supreme Court Rejects Belfast Project Appeal

Supreme Court Rejects Belfast Project Appeal
By Eleanor Hildebrandt
News Editor
The Heights – Independent Student Newspaper of Boston College
Thursday, April 18, 2013

Editor’s Note: This story is part of an ongoing series about the subpoenas of the Belfast Project.

On Monday, Apr. 15, the United States Supreme Court denied the appeal made by Belfast Project Director Ed Moloney and Belfast Project researcher and former IRA member Anthony McIntyre in an effort to prevent the recordings of interviews with former IRA member Dolours Price from being handed over to the Police Services of Northern Ireland.

Last Friday, Apr. 12, Senator Robert Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urged Secretary of State John Kerry in a memo to “raise the potential political implications” of the UK’s request for the tapes, arguing that sharing the material “could have the effect of re-opening fresh wounds and threatening the success of the Good Friday Accords.”

The PSNI will now be granted access to Price’s recordings. Price, who died in January at age 61, revealed in a 2010 interview with The Irish News that the interviews she gave for the Belfast Project contained information about the 1972 murder of Jean McConville, an Irish widow and mother of 10.

In January, following Price’s death, the University filed to close the case pertaining to the Price tapes. A separate appeal by BC, related to seven other tapes that Judge William G. Young reviewed and found to be related to the Jean McConville murder, remains in process.

“Boston College was not a party in today’s Supreme Court decision,” said University Spokesman Jack Dunn on Monday. “We chose not to appeal the district court’s ruling on the first subpoena involving Delours Price’s interview, because we felt there was no grounds for appeal. Our focus remains on our appeal of [Judge William Young’s] ruling regarding the second set of subpoenas, which remains before the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Our strategy remains to seek legal recourse through the courts, while also pursuing diplomatic resolution through appropriate channels.”

Moloney and McIntyre posted a press release about the Supreme Court decision on Monday. “We began this fight almost exactly two years ago and all along the campaign has run on two tracks, one legal, the other political. The legal track has almost come to an end but the political campaign continues,” the release read. “All of those involved in this campaign can be assured that it is not over yet.”

US Supreme Court acts on IRA Troubles documents

US Supreme Court acts on IRA Troubles documents
By Lyle Denniston, a reporter for scotusblog.com, an online journal of American law
UK Supreme Court blog
16 Apr 2013

The US Supreme Court yesterday denied two academic researchers’ legal challenges to enforcement in US courts of Northern Ireland police demands for information now in the files of an American college about the IRA Troubles. Background to this legal challenge can be found in my UKSC Blog post of last week, “Case on IRA Troubles escalates in US Supreme Court“. The Court’s action will turn the issue back to a lower federal court and to pleas in Washington for some diplomatic intervention.

The Justices made no comment when they refused to grant review of the constitutionality of subpoenas that a US judge issued for recordings made at Boston College during the since-concluded “Belfast Project” on the Troubles. Such refusals are seldom explained. The order, however, only dealt with subpoenas for the files made in interviews with two now-deceased IRA members, Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price. The Hughes interviews had previously been turned over, and the Price interviews are scheduled to be produced.

A second round of subpoenas is still under review in the US First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, in an appeal by Boston College. The briefing has been completed in that case, and a decision is awaited. In its action on Monday refusing to hear the challenges of Project researchers Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, the Supreme Court refused to postpone its action to await the First Circuit Court’s coming decision.

In its new appeal, Boston College raises the same constitutional challenges to subpoenas that it had raised unsuccessfully in the earlier round of litigation.

A federal judge in Boston, in reviewing the second group of subpoenas from the Northern Ireland police, ruled in January 2012 that Boston College must turn over the complete files of interviews made with five individuals, and individual interviews with two others. Those individuals’ identities have not been publicly revealed, but the judge concluded that their remarks could have some bearing on the Northern Ireland investigation.

That investigation focuses on the kidnapping and murder in 1972 of Jean McConville, a former member of the IRA who allegedly had served as a British informer. She died in an execution-style killing for which the IRA has admitted responsibility.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Moloney and McIntyre, while conceding on Monday that their legal challenge to the subpoenas was now at an end even while Boston College’s challenge continues, urged US Secretary of State John Kerry to intercede with UK officials to help assure that the Northern Ireland investigation does not interfere with the peace process under the so-called “Good Friday Accords” that the US government helped to broker.

The attorneys noted that New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, who is chair of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had asked Secretary Kerry earlier this month to take action to avoid a situation in which the Northern Ireland investigation could “have the effect of re-opening fresh wounds and threatening the success” of the peace agreement.

“The Boston College Archive,” the Menendez letter said, “could be a monument to that troubled time and a means for future generations to appreciate their complicated history and achieve mutual understanding.”

Senator Menendez sent a copy of his letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder, whose Justice Department lawyers have been seeking US court enforcement of the IRA subpoenas.

Should a legal right to “archival privilege” be established?

Should a legal right to “archival privilege” be established?
Society of American Archivists President Jackie Dooley
Off the Record – Join the Conversation with SAA Leaders
February 14, 2013

Egad, it’s been way too long since the last OTR post! I’ll assign fault to the rather substantial work involved in prepping for and cleaning up after (so to speak) an SAA Council meeting and my final push to publish a major research report (forgive the plug for my terrific day job, but consider taking a look!).

You may have seen SAA’s discussion statement about the Belfast Project at Boston College that has drawn lots of concern from archivists and historians over the past two years. The Oral History Section also has posteda lot of useful information. Today we hear from Frank Boles, SAA past president and chair of our Government Affairs Working Group, who led the work to develop our statement. He and his merry band of GAWGers always do excellent research and thinking before they send a document to Council, and this one is no exception.

*********************

Virginia Raymond has asked whether “One of these things is not like the others …. spouse, priest, oral historian, psychiatrist, attorney.” This grouping of professions stems from her discussion of a legal case involving the Boston College Library, which was subpoenaed on May 11, 2011 by a Federal District Court to surrender closed oral histories the court believed relevant to a murder investigation in Northern Ireland. Many appeals have ensued, and a request to review the case is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. At the heart of the case is a simple question: how much confidentiality can an archivist legally guarantee to a donor, such as a donor of an oral history?

I have heard some archivists argue that an “archival privilege” of confidentiality exists, or should exist, to shield an archives from a hostile court’s order. They assert that, like spouses sharing the daily intimacy of life, a priest counseling a penitent, a psychiatrist caring for a patient, or a lawyer talking to a client, an archivist’s relationship to a donor is such that a legally sustainable sphere of privacy should extend to any material donated with donor-imposed restrictions on use.

The case raises two questions: Do U.S. courts currently recognize an absolute or almost absolute legal right to confidentiality for scholars or archivists? And if they do not recognize such a right, should they?

The short answer to the first question is no. Two federal district judges and the First Circuit Court of Appeals have explicitly found that such a right does not exist. Although the Supreme Court may take up the case, for the time being the honest answer to a potential donor is that in most, if not all, instances, an archives would be required to surrender material subpoenaed by a court.

As for the second question, I noted above that some archivists believe that a legal right of archival privilege is needed. They have recommended that if the Boston College case is heard by the Supreme Court, SAA should file an amicus brief asserting such a privilege. Their justification is that if society wants donors to give honest, unaltered records regarding controversial subjects for eventual historical use, archivists need a mechanism to ensure confidentiality.  No archivist wants to see a donor end up in federal prison. If legally recognized, archival privilege would make it possible to close a collection against any unwanted inquiry, regardless of the source. While this may seem a reasonable argument, it asserts, in effect, that the needs of future research always transcend the societal needs of the present. Not all archivists would agree.

I have been asked if the profession really believes that archivists should withhold essential legal evidence found in a closed collection no matter what. Should the nature of the case matter? What if a collection contained proof of the widespread release of dangerous chemicals that would justify medical claims of those injured? Would the obligation to confidentiality apply if an archivist knew there was proof that someone had been convicted in error? If an innocent person is given a death sentence, does the bond of confidentiality still hold?  Is history always more important than justice?

Such examples clearly are extreme, but the claim of an absolute right to honor and protect donor-imposed restrictions creates an absolute obligation with difficult ethical implications.  Before arguing before a court that a legal right to archival privilege exists, SAA would need to determine whether there is consensus within the profession, how that consensus might be balanced against competing legal and ethical demands, and what the appropriate processes would be for resolving differences of opinion.

In the end, we should recognize how easy it is to for any of us to rise up in indignation; moving beyond to encourage thoughtful and productive conversation requires more resolve. Action movies aren’t made about people who ask for thoughtful conversation. I look forward to a professional conversation to discuss a slight variant on the question posed by Ms. Raymond: spouse, priest, archivist, psychiatrist, attorney–do they really go together?

 

For comments in response to the article, click here

Irish American Groups Seek Voice of Boston College President in Opposing Holder Subpoenas

Irish American Groups Seek Voice of Boston College President in Opposing Holder Subpoenas
Press Release Holder Subpoena of Boston College Records & President Leahy letter
ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS • BREHON LAW SOCIETY • IRISH AMERICAN UNITY CONFERENCE
January 23th
Denver, CO & NY, NY & Wash. D. C.

The largest Irish American activist groups in the nation including the oldest Irish Catholic organization in America, the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), have appealed to Boston College President William P. Leahy S. J. to voice his misgivings about Attorney General Holder’s subpoenas to Secretary of State Clinton and members of Congress. The college is fighting Holder in the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals but it is the political arena where President Leahy’s voice is being sought.

“We believe,” stated Thomas J. Burke Jr., President of the Irish American Unity Conference, “that the request for these subpoenas are part of a broader effort to destabilize the Irish peace process by ‘deep State British security forces.’ These forces are like those in El Salvador that in 1989 killed Jesuit priests and staff at Universidad Centroamericana in El Salvador. What’s the connection? Prime Minister Cameron admitted in Parliament last month that he was “shocked” and “appalled” by the collusion of security and intelligence forces in the murder in 1989 of Irish civil rights attorney Pat Finucane. Like the government in El Savador in 1989, the British government today holds no one accountable.”

“President Leahy’s predecessor, the Reverend J. Donald Monan S. J.,” stated AOH National President Brendan Moore, “became an advocate for justice in the El Salvador murders. Speaking truth to power he pressed Members of Congress and in particular Representative Joe Moakley to fight for justice for the victims. The chosen method to get at the truth for the El Salvador killings was to withold aid from and not cooperate with the government. We believe President Leahy’s voice could transform the Holder subpoena issue in the same way. Why should Holder cooperate until Finucane’s killers are brought to justice?”

Rob Dunne, President of the Brehon Law Society explained: “Britain’s decision to re-hire retired Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers without vetting them was the key to getting some back inside who may even have been involved in Finucane’s murder. To what end? Certain of these returned retirees have worked to cover up the security forces collusion in the killing of hundreds of innocent Catholics, to interfere in the Irish political process and to literally shred the justice provisions of the 1998 Irish peace pact i.e. the Dublin-Monaghan bombing inquiry, the Pat Finucane public inquiry and the Historical Enquiries Team (HET).”

The leaders pointed out that the murky origins of the British subpoena request can be traced to the return of these retirees some of whom served in the lawless and corrupt special RUC unit that has been so cited in the Stevens and Stalker Reports and now the de Silva Review. They pointed out that no college in the nation has a longer association with Ireland and Irish Americans than Boston College and President Leahy’s voice would cause many to reconsider the wisdom of turning over any records to the British at this time.


ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS • BREHON LAW SOCIETY • IRISH AMERICAN UNITY CONFERENCE

January 16, 2013

William P. Leahy S. J.
President
Boston College
Botolph House
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467

 
Dear President Leahy:

In August of last year we sent a letter to you regarding the attempt by the British government to secure records from the Irish Archives of the Burns Library (see attached).

Indeed the College and, separately, the researchers who compiled those records, have fought Attorney General Holder’s subpoenas and this misuse of the U.S.-U.K Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). We welcomed the move by the College.

We had hoped that, in addition to the litigation, the College would express its views to Members of Congress regarding the threat to academic independence and constitutional freedoms.

The Writ of Certiorari currently being considered by the Supreme Court in that litigation was accompanied by amicus briefs from respected national and international journalist advocacy groups and social scientist researchers.

If Boston College were to share its concerns with other Jesuit academic institutions like St Joseph’s in Philadelphi, PA, Fordham, Loyola, MD and St Peter’s in Jersey City, perhaps the Attorney General would reconsider his action.

Over 20 Members of Congress from the states where those schools are located have followed the leadership of Senator Kerry in opposing these subpoenas not only for their threats to academic inquiry but for their flawed issuance pursuit to the MLAT.

Your voice in a meeting with State congressional leaders could complement the litigation which may or may not address the core issues.

As you may know, we filed one of the amicus briefs and focused our arguments on why the Attorney General should cooperate with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) whose record of lawlessness and human and civil rights violations is well documented.

Prime Minister Cameron recently released a report which admits the forces of law and order there conspired with loyalist terrorists to kill attorney Patrick Finucane. Not one PSNI officer was held accountable.

It is difficult to grasp why the Attorney General of the U. S., the nation’s chief law enforcement officer would, in this instance, issue subpoenas for records sought by the PSNI.

It is a travesty of justice, a misuse of America’s treaty and a threat to the Irish peace process.

Your voice is reflected in the court battle.

We ask that you also join this political struggle to defend the rule of law and seek justice.

This is not unprecedented.

Boston College, with the aid of the Representative Joe Moakley, helped expose tyranny in El Salvador and fought for justice for the victims of the Jesuit assassinations there in 1989.

 

Sincerely,

Mr. Brendan Moore
National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians

Mr. Robert Dunne, Esq.
President
Brehon Law Society

Mr. Thomas J. Burke Jr. Esq.
National President
Irish American Unity Conference
 

Cc: Ms. Kathleen McGillycuddy, Chair
Board of Trustees
Boston College

 

University Files To Close Belfast Project Case

University Files To Close Belfast Project Case
By David Cote
Editor-in-Chief
The Heights
Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

In light of the recent death of ex-IRA member Dolours Price, Boston College recently filed a motion in the United States First Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that the legal case surrounding the Belfast Project subpoenas should be closed.

The University has argued that Price’s death ends the investigation of her involvement in the murder of Jean McConville, the supposed motivation for the original subpoenas.

“The government identified this case as ‘in criminal matters in the matter of Dolours Price,’ and the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty on Criminal Matters invoked by the UK and U.S. government in this case provides that the treaty does not pertain to matters in which the government anticipates that no prosecution will take place,” said University Spokesman Jack Dunn in an email. “Given that Dolours Price has died, the University believes that the case should be dismissed.”

Belfast Project director Ed Moloney, in a joint press release with project researcher Anthony McIntyre, pointed out that Price’s death should not result in the release of the tapes.

“There are other subpoenas outstanding and as far as we are concerned the same issues affect them as they did Dolours Price’s case and we look forward to continuing the fight with renewed vigor to stop the remaining Belfast Project interviews from being handed over,” the two said.

Dunn stated that the University is continuing to keep its options open as the case proceeds.

“We continue to seek a resolution of this matter either through legal or diplomatic means,” Dunn said.

The Belfast Project materials currently remain under a stay by the U.S. Supreme Court, pending decision on an appeal to the Court made by Moloney and McIntyre.

Boston College moves that the Court vacate the District Court’s January 20, 2012, Findings and Order and dismiss appeal as moot

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT
___________________________________________________________________________
No. 12-1236
IN RE: REQUEST FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM PURSUANT TO THE TREATY BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM ON MUTUAL ASSISTANCE IN CRIMINAL MATTERS IN THE MATTER OF DOLOURS PRICE,

UNITED STATES,
Petitioner – Appellee
v.
TRUSTEES OF BOSTON COLLEGE, ET AL.,
Movants – Appellants
__________________________________________________________________
NOTICE OF BOSTON COLLEGE OF SUGGESTION OF DEATH
__________________________________________________________________

Pursuant to Fed. R. App. P. 43(a)(1), Appellants Trustees of Boston College and two of its representatives, Robert K. O’Neill, the Librarian of the John J. Burns Library at Boston College, and Boston College University Professor Thomas E. Hachey (collectively, “Boston College”), notify the Court of the death of the Dolours Price, the subject of this matter as identified in the caption of the case.

Boston College moves that the Court vacate the District Court’s January 20, 2012, Findings and Order and dismiss this appeal as moot.

1. The Commissioner’s August 2011 subpoenas to Boston College that are the subject of this appeal (“the subpoenas”) captioned the proceedings as “in criminal matters in the matter of Dolours Price.”

2. The subpoenas were issued pursuant to the Treaty Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (S. Treaty Doc. No. 109-13) (the US-UK MLAT).

3. Article 1, Section 1bis [second] of the US-UK MLAT provides that assistance from the United States under that treaty “shall not be available for matters in which the administrative authority anticipates that no prosecution or referral, as applicable, will take place.”

4. According to news reports, Dolours Price was found dead on January 23, 2013, at her home in Malahide, Northern Ireland.

5. Her death means that criminal matters of Dolours Price can no longer be the subject of any prosecution or referral, and as a result the provisions of the US-UK MLAT pursuant to which the subpoenas were issued are no longer available.

For the reasons stated in this notice, Boston College moves that this Court vacate the District Court’s January 20, 2012, Findings and Order and dismiss this appeal as moot.

By their attorney,
/s/ Jeffrey Swope
Jeffrey Swope (BBO# 490760)
Nicholas A. Soivilien (BBO #675757)
EDWARDSWILDMAN PALMER LLP
111 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02199-7613
(617) 239-0100
jswope@edwardswildman.com
Dated: January 28, 2013

Belfast Project researchers at Boston College win Supreme Court stay

Belfast Project researchers at Boston College win Supreme Court stay
By Dennis Sadowski
The Boston Pilot – Catholic News
10/23/2012

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Two researchers studying Northern Ireland’s troubled past for a Boston College oral history project won a stay from a Supreme Court justice that blocks a federal appeals court decision requiring them to turn over information they gathered to the British government.

Justice Stephen Breyer ruled Oct. 17 that Belfast Project director Ed Moloney and interviewer Anthony McIntyre, a former Irish Republican Army member, would not have to turn over one of the interviews referencing a 1972 murder.

Breyer gave the researchers until Nov. 16 to file a writ of certiorari seeking a Supreme Court hearing of their case.

The stay will expire if the high court declines to hear the case. If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, then the stay will remain in place until the justices issue a ruling, Breyer’s order said.

The justice’s ruling stays a September order from the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston that would have required the researchers to turn over the recording of an interview with a former Irish Republican Army member cites the group’s involvement in the death of a widow and mother of 10 to the Department of Justice.

The Belfast Project is chronicling a period known as the Irish Troubles, which lasted from the 1960s until 1998 when the Good Friday peace agreement was signed. The agreement ended violent hostilities in Northern Ireland between forces seeking to unite the region with Ireland and those wanting it to remain under British rule.

Justice Department lawyers sought the information on behalf of the Police Service of Northern Ireland under a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom.

Attorney Jonathan Albano, representing Moloney and McIntyre, told Catholic News Service that the recordings of dozens of interviews of former members of the Irish Republican Army and the Ulster Volunteer Force were conducted with the promise that they would remain confidential until an interviewee died or gave their consent for release.

Moloney and McIntyre vowed in August to pursue an appeal to the Supreme Court after the appeals court decided not to rehear the case. In July, a three judge panel of the appeals court rejected the researchers’ appeal that they had no legal right to surrender information about the murder.

Albano said the legal team would file the writ with the Supreme Court by the Nov. 16 deadline.

In a summary of the case, Jack Dunn, director of news and public affairs at Boston College, said Moloney oversaw the recording of 26 interviews of former IRA members by McIntyre as well as 20 interviews with former members of the Ulster Volunteer Force by loyalist Wilson McArthur between 2002 and 2006. The tapes and transcripts were sent to Boston College for storage under an agreement that they would be held in confidence until the death of the participants, the summary said.

“From the beginning, Boston College’s intention was to be a repository of an oral history project that would provide a future resource for historians and scholars seeking a better understanding of the Troubles, while also helping to promote peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. At no time has Boston College wanted to obfuscate a criminal investigation into a horrible abduction and murder,” Dunn’s document said.

Tapes wanted by PSNI ‘do not mention murder’

Tapes wanted by PSNI ‘do not mention murder’
Suzanne Breen
Belfast Telegraph
September 21, 2012

A former Boston College researcher will today tell a court that no mention was made of murder victim Jean McConville in the taped interview at the centre of a massive legal row.

The PSNI has launched a transatlantic courtroom battle to obtain the tape in which ex-IRA bomber Dolours Price allegedly admitted involvement in Mrs McConville’s disappearance and claimed the killing was ordered by Gerry Adams.

But Anthony McIntyre, the ex-IRA member who interviewed Price for the Boston project, will today tell Belfast High Court that she never even mentioned the murdered mother of ten’s name once.

In an affidavit lodged in the court and seen by the Belfast Telegraph, Mr McIntyre states: “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Ms Price did not mention the case of Jean McConville during the interviews I conducted with her.”

The PSNI legal bid began last year after allegations that Price had recorded admissions regarding the murder in her Boston College interview.

Mr McIntyre said when he read the report, “I was astounded as I know that she had made no such record.”

The Price tape is currently in the possession of the US courts. Subpoenas were served on Boston College in May 2011 by the US Attorney General on behalf of the PSNI.

McIntyre’s claim raises questions that the PSNI’s costly legal battle pursuing the tape may turn out to be a wild goose chase.

It could mean the McConville family’s hopes that securing the tape will bring justice for their mother, and see her killers’ prosecuted, may also be dashed.

Mrs McConville, a widow, was abducted from her West Belfast home in 1972 and driven across the border where she was shot dead and secretly buried by the IRA as an alleged “informer”.

Mr McIntyre’s solicitor, Kevin Winters, said: “Very serious and sensitive issues have been raised by this case and we hope that further scrutiny at today’s hearing will assist in resolving these.”

Mr McIntyre’s evidence supports that of former Boston College project director, journalist Ed Moloney.

In an affidavit presented to the court, which has been seen by the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Moloney said the project’s interviewees were promised nothing they said would be revealed until after their deaths.

“However, I believe (it is) time to reveal what the interviews did not disclose,” the journalist stated. “In her interviews with Anthony McIntyre, Dolours Price did not once mention the name ‘Jean McConville’.

“The subject of that unfortunate woman’s disappearance was never mentioned. Nor so were the allegations that Dolours Price was involved in any other disappearance carried out by the IRA in Belfast, nor that she received orders to disappear people from Gerry Adams.”

Mr Moloney stated that the interviews with Price lacked “any material that could ever have justified the subpoenas”.

The journalist claimed the PSNI’s actions “may well amount to an abuse of process”. Dozens of ex-loyalist and republican paramilitaries were interviewed for the Boston College oral history project between 2001 and 2006.

They were promised their interviews wouldn’t be released until after their death and the tapes were stored in the college.

The only two interviews so far published have been those of ex-Belfast Brigade IRA commander Brendan Hughes and former UVF member and PUP leader David Ervine. The republicans were interviewed by Anthony McIntyre and the loyalists by Wilson McArthur.

Irish groups seeking alliance with Boston College

Irish groups seeking alliance with Boston College
IN NEWS & VIEWS
Irish Echo
SEPTEMBER 10, 2012

Full text of letter to Boston College

Three leading Irish American organizations supporting the campaign to have withdrawn the subpoenas directed at Boston College in the Troubles archives case have reached out to the university in an effort to forge a common front.

As things stand, archivists Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre have been appealing one aspect of the overall case as it relates to an initial set of subpoenas, while Boston College is separately appealing another set.

The first set of subpoenas issued by the U.S. Justice Department concerns archive material on former IRA member Dolours Price held in BC’s Burns Library, and it was this set that was at the heart of the court argument that led to the recent court of appeals decision which went against archive compilers Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, and is now being pitched by the two at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Boston College, however, is not a party to this part of the overall case.

Boston College spokesman, Jack Dunne, previously explained that because Price had given interviews in Ireland that covered areas contained in the archives and “had publicly declared the contents,” there was “no basis for a legal appeal” by Boston College.

Boston College, however, is contesting subpoenas aimed at securing archive files stemming from testimonies given by seven other individuals, all linked in the past to the IRA.

Relations between Moloney and McIntyre and Boston College have become severely strained in recent months and the call from the three organizations, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Brehon Law Society and Irish American Unity Conference would appear to be an attempt to heal the rift.

The three, according to a statement, “have appealed to (Boston College) President William P. Leahy S.J. to join the educational campaign regarding Britain’s unprecedented effort in America to intimidate journalistic inquiry, academic freedom and to color the historical record of the Anglo- Irish conflict to their liking.”

“We believe,” stated Thomas J. Burke Jr., president of the Irish American Unity Conference, in reference to BC, that “there is no better institution in this nation to voice concern for these issues than one so long associated with the Irish and their contributions to America.”

The letter, signed by Burke, AOH National President Brendan Moore and Robert Dunne for the Brehons, indicated that even as the Court of Appeals litigation continued to search for a decision that might recognize the constitutional freedoms involved and elevate them over the flawed inquiry by the British government, Boston College “could make an immeasurable contribution to the political campaign. It could identify these larger issues by appealing to members of Congress to hold hearings on the merits of this questionable use of a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.”

Brendan Moore, newly elected National President of the AOH said: “the 1998 Belfast Agreement is recognized by most in America as the turning point in the conflict and the hard work of peace can only be made more difficult by this apparent effort by the British government to undermine the peace process.”

Added Robert Dunne, president of the Brehon Law Society: “Boston College has rendered unto Caesar what is Caesar’s by responding to the subpoena and now we ask that this fine Jesuit institution speak truth to power and seek a forum to do that in the halls of Congress.”

The letter to Fr. Leahy was written before the First Court of Appeals decision to deny Moloney and McIntyre an “en banc” appeal against an earlier panel ruling that went against them. The two journalists have now moved to present their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

See previously: Appeal to Boston College to Join the Fight Against Holder Subpoena

Belfast Court Issues Stay On Materials

Belfast Court Issues Stay On Materials
By David Cote
News Editor
The Heights
Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012

Editor’s Note: This story is part of an ongoing series about the subpoenas of the Belfast Project.

As the legal battle over the fate of the Belfast Project tapes continues in the United States Court of Appeals in Boston, and an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is in the works on behalf of researchers Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, the two earned a small victory on Friday in the Belfast courts. The Irish High Court issued an injunction on Friday afternoon, temporarily preventing the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) from accessing any interviews from the project that may be turned over as a result of the subpoenas.

The injunction will prevent any and all tapes, including those recorded with former IRA member Dolours Price, from falling into the hands of the British authorities, despite the U.S. appeal court ruling last month that the tapes be handed over.

According to arguments made by lawyers on behalf of Moloney and McIntyre, releasing the tapes to the PSNI would put the lives of the researchers and those who participated in the interviews at risk due to the sensitive nature of the material disclosed.

“The PSNI seeing or receiving this material is going to be putting the applicant’s life at risk,” said David Scoffield on behalf of McIntyre, according to the BBC.

In addition, Scoffield argued that the injunction he wished was only temporary, until Moloney’s judicial review could be assessed.

Judge Justice Treacy pointed out that the appeal in the Belfast courts seemed to be a direct response to recent rulings in the U.S. preventing Moloney and McIntyre from interceding in the Belfast Project case.

“It seems a bit rich, having taken that step, then coming to this court having failed in America, to seek to restrict the police access to this material in discharging their obligation to investigate serious crime,” Treacy said, according to the BBC.

Treacy granted the temporary injunction, but emphasized that the injunction is directed only to the PSNI, and not American authorities.

“There is no question whatsoever of this being an injunction directed towards any American authorities,” Treacy said. “The interim relief is directed solely at the PSNI and any other relevant UK authorities.”

While the stay remains in place, two legal cases continue in the U.S. The first, involving lawyers representing BC, seeks to reverse Judge William G. Young’s ruling that seven Belfast Project tapes should be handed over to the PSNI in relation to the investigation of the murder of Jean McConville in 1972. BC has argued that the tapes have “limited probative value” to the investigation and should remain confidential.

The second case, proceeding on behalf of Moloney and McIntyre, seeks a stay on all Belfast Project tapes, including those with Price.

“In Boston, attorneys Eamonn Dornan and JJ Cotter have filed a petition to the First Circuit Court of Appeals seeking a stay on the handover of the Price interviews as well as those that are the subject of Friday’s appeal by Boston College, until the Supreme Court considers a bid to hear the case, which has huge constitutional, legal and political consequences, in front of America’s highest court,” Moloney said in a press release dated Sept. 6.

The temporary injunction issued by the Belfast court will remain in place until the researchers’ judicial review challenge is heard.