Chris Bray: BC, NBC, and the PSNI

The PSNI Arrives on Tuesday for a Monday Lunch
Chris Bray
Friday, May 30, 2014

They’re too late.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland recently announced that they intended to make a broader MLAT request for every interview from the Boston College oral history collection they first began to mine in 2011. But Boston College also announced that it intended to return interviews to the former members of Northern Ireland paramilitary organizations interviewed for the university’s Belfast Project. For a while, it appeared that the PSNI’s announcement trumped BC’s announcement: The news that more subpoenas were on the way would prevent the return of interviews.

For at least one Belfast Project interviewee, however, that’s not what happened. Whether or not the PSNI gets the U.S. Department of Justice to subpoena the Boston College archives again, some of the interviews are out of their hands forever. They have already gone home.

Take a look at this remarkable set of documents that was posted on Pacer, the federal court system’s document website, on Thursday:
NBC O’Rawe from PACER

Of particular interest are pages 3 and 4 of the PDF file, a May 1, 2014 letter from Jeffrey Swope, Boston College’s outside lawyer for matters involving the Belfast Project, to Kevin Winters, the Belfast-based solicitor who represents former IRA member and Belfast Project interviewee Richard O’Rawe. Swope details a long list of documents and audiotapes that he is returning to O’Rawe through the offices of KRW Law, Winters’ Belfast law firm. They are all of O’Rawe’s interviews — tapes and transcripts — except the ones that the PSNI already received on account of the 2011 subpoenas. Also returned: O’Rawe’s complete correspondence with the Belfast Project. There’s nothing left but the material that police already have.

I don’t know if material from other interviewees has already been sent back to them. Boston College and Jeffrey Swope have long since stopped responding to questions from me, and other people who would know about the return of interviews are either not responding to messages or not saying. (And I wouldn’t respond to the questions I’m asking them, either, if our positions were reversed.) But if Boston College began returning interviews, there’s no reason for them to have returned interviews to Richard O’Rawe but not to other interviewees, some of whom have been asking for the return of their interview material since shortly after the 2011 subpoenas arrived.

Bottom line: At least one interviewee has beat the PSNI to the archive, and maybe more. (Interviews that are unlikely to have been returned, and that are unlikely to ever be returned, are those for which Boston College has lost identifying material. So the PSNI may still be able to get its hands on interviews with unidentifiable research subjects, the legal value of which will be limited.)

Meanwhile, the political floor is beginning to give way beneath the PSNI’s effort to treat the Troubles as ordinary crime.

The likelihood of a successful PSNI / DOJ return to the Belfast Project archives is rapidly fading.

Jean McConville’s daughter ‘shattered’ but will take civil action against Gerry Adams

Jean McConville’s daughter ‘shattered’ but will take civil action against Gerry Adams
by Philip Bradfield
News Letter
10 May 2014

A woman whose mother was “disappeared” by the IRA in 1972 says he was “shattered” after Gerry Adams was released from police questioning on the matter without charge on Sunday, but that she will press on with a civil action against him.

Helen McKendry is a daughter of mother-of-ten Jean McConville, who was abducted by the IRA from Divis Flats in west Belfast in 1972, shot in the head and buried on a Co Louth beach. Her remains were only found by accident 31 years later.

Helen told the News Letter yesterday she felt “shattered” after Sinn Fein President was released without charge by police last weekend.

“It did hit me to know he was released but I did not really expect anything else,” she said.

“We will wait and see what happens next.”

Police passed a file to the Public Prosecution Service who will decide whether or not to prosecute.

“But of course we will be taking a civil action against him because it does not look like a criminal trial will be possible.

“I just want to prove to the world that Gerry Adams was involved in my mother’s murder.”

Mr Adams vehemently rejects allegations he was involved in any way in the abduction, murder or burial of Jean McConville.

The day her mother, a widow, was taken Helen was 15 years old.

She had gone to the shops and when she came back her brothers and sisters were hysterical and her mother was gone.

Her father had died just 11 months earlier from cancer.

Helen now lives near Killyleagh in Co Down.

“People have been coming up to me while I am out shopping to let me know their feelings about how wrong it all was,” she said.

Sinn Fein held a rally in west Belfast last weekend in support of Gerry Adams, only a stone’s throw from where their family flat was.

But Helen says it was very small by west Belfast standards.

Helen claims she has the names of the people who took part in her mother’s abduction – but because she was not an actual witness, her word cannot be used as evidence in court.

“Sinn Fein dismiss me now. They refuse to meet with me. But nobody can tell me to shut up about my mother.

“I will keep talking until the day I die,” she said.

Adams detention could hasten civil action

Adams detention could hasten civil action
Philip Bradfield
News Letter
3 May 2014

A son-in-law of Jean McConville believes that circumstances are coming together that will facilitate a long hoped for civil action against Gerry Adams for his alleged role in the mother-of-10’s murder.

Seamus McKendry said yesterday that he hoped the arrest of Mr Adams would speed up the point at which the Boston Tapes – containing interviews with republicans about the murder – could be released by the PSNI to his legal team.

A criminal prosecution must prove guilt ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. However, civil actions must only prove their case on ‘the balance of probability’ – a much easier prospect to achieve.

“We have been wanting to bring a civil action for 20 years,” Mr McKendry, husband of Jean’s daughter Helen, told the News Letter yesterday.

“Disappearing people is against the Geneva Convention. That means it is a war crime for Jean’s murderers to be walking down the streets when Milosevic and his friends were brought to trial for the same thing.”

At present he is putting together a business plan for the prosecution, and consulting with legal experts.

He has found three private sector backers who have expressed an interest in supporting the litigation financially.

“We are also looking at setting up a crowd funding web site on the internet to allow ordinary members of the public to contribute to the fund,” he added.

“I believe Gerry Adams was being protected for a long time to some degree to try and protect the peace process. But now I think they know it can survive without him, especially after how he handled his brother’s child sex abuse.”

Mr McKendry said he had asked the PSNI if he could have sight of the Boston Tapes as handed over by the US government, but has been refused at this time.

Michael Gallagher, whose son was killed in the Omagh bomb and who helped lead the successful civil action against those responsible, told the News Letter that the PSNI released all related files to his legal team under disclosure – but only after they found they could proceed no further with a criminal prosecution.

Mr McKendry was not sure if Mr Adams would be charged by police.

“I just don’t know at this stage if they have enough evidence to charge him,” he said. “Perhaps it would be a good time for the British government to give a full explanation as to why they sprang him from Long Kesh in 1974 to engage in talks with them? We have been fighting this battle at some level ever since.”

Meanwhile, the one seasoned observer of Irish America also noted yesterday an “almost total absence” of any voices protesting against the arrest of Mr Adams.

McConville family to sue Baggott and MOD

McConville family to sue Baggott and MOD
UTV News
Published Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The family of Belfast woman Jean McConville – who was abducted, murdered and ‘disappeared’ by the Provisional IRA – plans to take civil action against the Chief Constable of the PSNI and the Ministry of Defence over alleged failings in the investigation into her death.

The body of Mrs McConville, a mother-of-10 who vanished in December 1972, was not recovered for more than 30 years.

Her remains were finally found on Shelling Hill beach in Co Louth in 2003, but no one has ever been convicted over her death.

On Tuesday, the anniversary of Mrs McConville’s body being found, lawyers for the family confirmed that they had been instructed to pursue civil action.

“The McConville family firmly believe that the RUC and subsequently the PSNI have utterly failed to assist the family’s quest for the truth,” Ciarán Mulholland, from J Mulholland & Co Solicitors, said.

“It is abundantly clear that police negligently failed to hold a prompt and efficient investigation into this matter.”

The McConville family continue to mourn and grieve at the loss of their mother because they remain in the dark – their questions remain unanswered. — Ciarán Mulholland, family solicitor

According to the family’s legal team, Mrs McConville was abducted by the PIRA on 30 November 1972 from a bingo hall in the lower Falls area of west Belfast.

They say she was interrogated on suspicion of being an informant before being found the next day, “roaming the streets in a state”, by a British Army patrol who took her to Queen Street RUC barracks.

The lawyers further detail how Mrs McConville was then abducted from her home by the PIRA.

They claim numerous reports were made to the RUC, but “police still failed to act”.

Mrs McConville is believed to have been tortured and murdered by her captors sometime in December 1972.

Mr Mulholland added: “The family now feel that, given the lengthy passage of time and the obstruction they continue to meet seeking the truth into the disappearance and murder of their mother, they have no alternative other than to hold the police and Ministry of Defence to account.

“Our clients’ feel that legal action is now essential in their journey for truth, and accordingly, representations have been sent to both the Chief Constable and the Ministry of Defence.”

An MOD spokesman said: “The MOD has and will continue to cooperate fully with all judicial processes.

“It would be inappropriate to comment further due to the ongoing civilian police investigation.”

McConville family to sue police and MoD

McConville family to sue police and MoD
BBC News
27 August 2013

The family of a woman murdered and secretly buried by the IRA more than 40 years ago are to sue the police and Ministry of Defence.

Jean McConville’s family say there was a failure to hold a prompt and efficient investigation into her abduction.

The civil action was announced on the 10th anniversary of her remains finally being found at a County Louth beach.

It is believed that she was tortured before being shot and buried.

The mother-of-10, one of those referred to as the Disappeared, was taken from her west Belfast home in December 1972 on suspicion of being a British informant.

Legal proceedings have been initiated against both the Chief Constable of the PSNI and the MoD over events surrounding her abduction, death and subsequent inquiries.

Solicitor Ciaran Mulholland said he has been instructed by members of the McConville family to pursue a claim over the “horrific events”.

He claimed Mrs McConville was found by a British Army patrol in the early hours of 1 December, 1972 “roaming the streets in a state” after first being interrogated by the IRA.

She was taken to a police station at Queen Street in the city but seized again later that day, according to Mr Mulholland.

He alleged that police were told of her abduction within hours, but refused to assist.

Further failures to act occurred over the next two months, it was claimed.

“The family still do not know the circumstances of this horrendous event,” Mr Mulholland said.

“Why was their mother taken? Why would the RUC not intervene or investigate the matter?

“The McConville family firmly believe that the RUC and subsequently the PSNI have utterly failed to assist the family’s quest for the truth.

“The family now feel that given the lengthy passage of time and the obstruction they continue to meet seeking the truth into the disappearance and murder of their mother that they have no alternative other than to hold the police and Ministry of Defence to account.

“Our clients’ feel that legal action is now essential in their journey for truth, and accordingly representations have been sent to both the chief constable and the Ministry of Defence.”

McConvilles to mount civil case in bid for justice

McConvilles to mount civil case in bid for justice
Adams could be forced to give evidence after benefactor backs murdered widow’s family
Sunday Independent
04 AUGUST 2013

THE family of murdered widow and mother-of-10 Jean McConville has received an offer of financial assistance to mount a civil legal action, which they hope could lead to Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams being forced to give evidence in court.

The family has not decided on what form of action to take. But they could follow the civil case taken by relatives of the 1998 Omagh bomb victims against five suspects, four of whom were found by the High Court in Belfast to have been involved in the atrocity that killed 29 people, including Avril Monaghan, 30, who was pregnant with twins.

Mrs McConville’s daughter Helen McKendry and her husband, Seamus, have confirmed they have an offer of assistance from a wealthy benefactor who wishes to keep his identity secret.

“He is very generous and concerned to see the truth about what happened to Jean and the family brought out,” Mr McKendry told the Sunday Independent.

The couple has already contacted the Omagh families who brought the civil action against dissident republican figures deemed in the action to have been responsible.

“We are currently seeking legal representation,” Mr McKendry said.

A similar case to the McConville murder would be likely to see the tapes of interviews with former Provisional IRA figures brought into play.

Currently, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has possession of one set of tapes of an interview with former IRA woman Dolours Price in which she named Gerry Adams as the local IRA commander who gave the order for Mrs McConville’s murder and secret burial in December 1972. Price, who suffered from depression, took his own life in January

Mr Adams, who denies any involvement in Mrs McConville’s murder, was also named by another former IRA man, Brendan Hughes, as being the commander of the Belfast unit that abducted the mother-of-10 from her home in the Divis Flats complex.

Hughes, who died in February 2008, also claimed in a taped interview to researchers from Boston College that Mr Adams gave the order for her secret burial.

The PSNI is currently seeking tapes from six other former IRA members referring to the murder of Mrs McConville as part of a historic case review. These are expected to be handed over in coming weeks.

If the PSNI and Northern Ireland’s Prosecution Service decides there are insufficient grounds to mount a criminal case, the Boston College files could become part of a civil action where the grounds of “probability” rather than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” in criminal law apply.

Gerry Adams has consistently denied that he was even a member of the IRA at any time and also that he had any part in Mrs McConville’s murder. A number of women were in the gang, including the then head of the women’s IRA on the Falls Road, Madge McConville, no relation of the victim.

Madge McConville died in July 2009 and was described as a “republican icon” in an obituary in the Sinn Fein weekly paper, An Phoblacht. It was well known in the lower Falls area that she was involved in the abduction of Mrs McConville after she was seen to give assistance to a British soldier who was injured near her front door.

At the time, the IRA had set up units in Belfast to attack anyone who was seen as sympathetic to the police or British Army. Dozens of women were abducted and beaten up and several young women had their heads shaved, were tied to lampposts and had black paint and feathers poured over them.

The claims of Mr Adams’ involvement have been raised on a number occasions in the Dail.

Last month, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said there would be a “clarion call” for clarification if such an accusation was made against any other TD.

Mr Adams replied that he had “consistently rejected claims that I had any knowledge of, or any part in, the abduction or killing of Jean McConville”.

Weeks before her abduction, Mrs McConville, 38, was brutally beaten up by a gang of local IRA men and women because of her perceived sympathies to British soldiers. A decision was then made to murder her as an example to others to avoid contact with soldiers or police. Local sources said the decision to murder her was taken because she was a Protestant who had married a Catholic.

She was driven to north Co Louth and taken to Templetown beach where she was brought to a shallow grave, shot and buried. Her children, including a baby, were left abandoned and went without food as local people were too afraid to help them. They were eventually taken into care by social services and placed in separate orphanages and foster homes.

Mrs McConville’s body was discovered by accident on Templetown beach by a family in August 2003 when part of the sand dune she was buried in eroded.

The inquest into her death found she had been killed by a single gunshot to the back of her head, probably fired downwards indicating she was made to kneel at her graveside before being murdered.

Further Reading


Could Boston interview tapes spell trouble for Adams?

Could Boston interview tapes spell trouble for Adams?
by Peter Geoghegan
Sunday Business Post
14 July 2013

In October 2010, Voices From The Grave appeared on Irish television screens. The RTE documentary gave a unique glimpse into the history of the Troubles as seen through the eyes of two leading protagonists, loyalist David Ervine and his republican counterpart Brendan ‘The Dark’ Hughes.

But more than two and a half years after it first aired, Voices From The Grave continues to haunt Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

Hughes, a former IRA commander in Belfast, claimed that Adams ordered the killing of mother-of-ten Jean McConville in 1972, allegedly for being a British spy.

Voices From The Grave, which was also a best-selling book, was based on interviews given by Ervine and Hughes as part of the Belfast Project, a larger oral history project involving numerous loyalist and republican prisoners and conducted by researchers under the auspices of Boston College.

Ervine and Hughes died in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

Accusations of Adams’s involvement in the killing of McConville resurfaced last week, as the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) confirmed that tapes of interviews with IRA bomber Dolours Price, which were being held by Boston College, had been handed over to them.

Price died last January. Before her death, she claimed that Adams was her IRA officer commanding in the early 1970s, and was responsible for ordering McConville’s disappearance.

Adams has always denied that he was a member of the IRA or that he played any role in the death of McConville, whose body was found in a beach in Co Louth in 2003.

“I have consistently rejected claims that I had any knowledge of, or any part in, the abduction or killing of Jean McConville,” Adams said in the Dáil last week.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny called on Adams to make a statement about McConville’s disappearance. Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told the Dáil: “Nobody except Deputy Adams believes he wasn’t in the IRA.”

Ed Moloney, erstwhile director of the Boston College project, said that there had been a “very political element” to the PSNI’s determination to get hold of the interviews with Dolours Price and others, conducted as part of the project.

“The PSNI knew that, at the end of the road, they would end with Adams,” Moloney told The Sunday Business Post. “There is an element there of going down this road knowing it will cause [Gerry Adams] an awful lot of trouble.”

Moloney, who was the Irish Times northern editor during the Troubles and is now based in New York, fears that the US court decision to have the tapes released could lead to issues for Adams and other senior political figures that could undermine the political situation in the North and also inhibit attempts to learn more about exactly what happened during the Troubles.

“The only way we are going to get a truth recovery process is if there is a guarantee that there won’t be prosecutions. Prosecutions just keep the war going,” he said.

The issue of the past has been centre stage in the North in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the Policing Board said that it had no confidence in the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), which was set up to re-examine deaths during the Troubles.

The Policing Board said that the HET was investigating deaths involving soldiers with less rigour than cases with no state involvement. Moloney agreed, saying it was “a way of dealing with the past that says that there was only one guilty party – the paramilitaries, not the state. The state is left out of it completely.

“Fear of prosecution will prohibit people entirely from saying what they know and it will keep the war going in another guise, and that is what has been happening in recent years,” he said.

Moloney’s viewpoint has support on the other side of the Atlantic. Last week, the chairman of the US Senate foreign relations committee, Robert Menendez, raised concerns about the impact of handing over the Price tapes to the PSNI.

In a letter to US secretary of state John Kerry, Menendez said that the release of material could “still have the effect of threatening the precious peace won by the Good Friday Agreement”.

In his letter, Menendez appealed for State Department experts on the North to examine whether the details contained in the interviews could “run counter to our national interests”.

Dealing with the past is expected to be top of the in-tray for Richard Haass, the US’s new peace envoy to the North. Haas, who was George W Bush’s envoy to Northern Ireland from 2001 to 2003, will head talks aimed at resolving troubling issues, including flags and parading. He is expected to report his findings by the end of the year.

In the North, opinions are divided on whether the release of the Boston College tapes to the PSNI will have any significant impact on the political situation on the ground.

Mick Fealty, editor of the influential blog site Slugger O’Toole, said that it would be difficult to prevent the PSNI or the HET going after other interviews in the Boston College archive, but that criminal prosecutions as a result of evidence from the tapes were “highly unlikely”.

“I don’t see material evidence coming out of this,” Fealty said. “[Dolours Price] can’t be interrogated; she can’t be brought before a jury.”

Fealty said the Boston College tapes could prove less damaging to Adams than other issues. “Adams has far more challenging stuff coming down the tracks. His brother’s trial [for child sex abuse] is coming up later this year. There is the stuff about mishandling of sex abuse within Sinn Féin.”

Irish News columnist Newton Emerson also believes there is little prospect of a criminal conviction arising from the Boston College interview with Price. “There is absolutely no conceivable possibility of this stuff being used in court,” he said. “The witness can’t be cross-examined. I’d be very surprised if you can even get this heard in court.”

The big concern for Adams would be a civil case being taken against him, said Emerson. “If you were a particularly determined grieving relative, you could decide to make the last ten years of Gerry Adams’s life miserable, even if the civil case had little chance of success.”

“Ultimately, the big issue is the assumption of a de facto amnesty that can never actually be delivered. The dam will break with a civil case,” he said, adding that there were tens of thousands of people in the North who could be motivated to bring a civil case against the republican leader.

Emerson draws parallels with other world leaders who were initially celebrated by sections of the international community, but who spent the final decades of their lives battling civil actions from relatives of victims killed by his regime. “It still all ended up in the courts. It’s very hard not to imagine that happening here,” he said.

A Sinn Féin spokesperson refused to discuss the prospects of civil cases arising from the Boston College tapes.

Emerson is sceptical about claims that the tapes could destabilise the political situation in the North. “Why would misfortune for Adams be a threat to the peace process? It’s very hard to believe the Provos kicking off again because Gerry has a hearing,” he said.

“I just can’t see any actual revelation from the Troubles bringing people out on to the streets in armed fury. It’s just too far away. Half the people in Northern Ireland have no living memory of the Troubles. When you talk about something that happened 40 years ago to a 20-year-old, it’s like talking about something that happened in the 1930s.”


Belfast Project timeline

Funded by Boston College, the Belfast Project was coordinated by Ed Moloney, the Irish journalist now based in New York.

Anthony McIntyre, a former republican prisoner with a PhD in history, and former loyalist prisoner Wilson McArthur conducted interviews with leading figures in the IRA, the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Ulster Defence Association.

Crucially, all interviewees were promised that their recordings would not be released until after their deaths; – now these testimonies could provide evidence for criminal proceedings.

The Belfast Project began in 2001 and ended in 2006, but it remained a secret until 2010, when Moloney, with Boston College’s imprimatur, published Voices from the Grave, a book based on interviews given by former IRA officer commanding and hunger striker Brendan Hughes and former Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine.

In May 2011, British authorities issued Boston College with a subpoena, demanding tapes of interviews with both Hughes and Dolours Price, after the latter gave an interview to a Northern Irish newspaper intimating her role in Jean McConville’s disappearance. In August, a second subpoena followed, this time calling for all interviews that contained any information relating to the McConville case.

In December 2011, a Boston federal court judge upheld the first subpoena. Boston College criticised the verdict but surprisingly declined to appeal. Instead the case was taken to the US appeal courts by Moloney and McIntyre.

The researchers also called for Boston College to destroy all tapes of the interviews.

“The archive must now be closed down and the interviews be either returned or shredded since Boston College is no longer a safe nor fit and proper place for them to be kept,” they said in a statement.

Price died in January this year. On April 15, the Supreme Court reduced the amount of material to be handed over from 85 interviews (roughly half of the archive) to segments of 11 interviews.

Last month, the PSNI travelled to Boston to collect tapes and transcripts of interviews given by Dolours Price. However, Jack Dunn, director of public affairs at Boston College, denied claims that the university had handed over the tapes.

“The Dolours Price tapes have not been handed over to the PSNI by Boston College,” Dunn told the website Irish Central.

“If they have been given to the PSNI, they have been supplied by the Department of Justice. It has been inaccurately reported that PSNI detectives came to Boston over the weekend and took tapes from us. That is completely untrue.”

Moloney told The Sunday Business Post that Boston College had “abandoned” Belfast Project interviewees.

“This is a disgraceful episode in American academic history,” he said. “My advice to anyone interested in setting up a controversial research project is to avoid American universities because they will sell you down the river as soon as look at you.”

Adams faces quiz over murder of McConville

Adams faces quiz over murder of McConville
PSNI could receive tapes linking SF chief to mother of 10’s death
Sunday Independent
14 JULY 2013

Gerry Adams faces questioning by detectives if a federal court in Boston rules that transcripts of interviews with seven former IRA members about the murder of widowed mother-of-10 Jean McConville can be released to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Mrs McConville’s family is also exploring the possibility of launching a civil action against the Sinn Fein president in the event of no prosecution taking place.

Mr Adams maintains he had “no hand, act or part in” the December 1972 murder, despite claims by two of his former IRA associates, Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes, that he gave the order for the killing and secret burial (in Co Louth) of the Protestant woman who had been living in the Catholic Falls Road area.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin told Mr Adams in the Dail last week that it is time to “come out of the shadows” on the issue of his past relationship with the IRA.

“Far from the passage of time erasing memories of these issues, they are instead becoming clearer and more relevant,” he said, referring to the escalating controversy over Boston College tapes allegedly linking the Sinn Fein leader to the death of Mrs McConville.

Mr Martin spoke of the murder by the IRA of the woman struggling to bring up her children.

“Brendan Hughes, who was a key member of the Belfast brigade of the IRA at the time, pulls no punches in his claims of who ordered that killing,” he said. “It is a very sordid tale. Deputy Adams owes it to the House to make a comment on it.”

Mr Martin said he has written to Hillary Clinton on the issue, and will be asking the Taoiseach “whether he sees the need to discuss the pursuit of this by the PSNI and the British authorities with the American authorities”.

The concerns of the opposition leader provoked a sharp response from Mr Adams, who claimed that “the IRA, which is now on ceasefire, has left the stage and is not around, apologised for what it did” and added that “those who make the accusation against me, apart from those in the Dail, are implacable opponents of the peace process”.

Mr Adams’s denials, said Mr Martin, “fundamentally lack credibility, and were it any other politician who stood accused of what Mr Adams is, they would be facing, at a minimum, a Dail inquiry or a commission of inquiry”.

Brendan Hughes died in 2008 and Dolours Price took her own life last January at her home in Malahide, Co Dublin. Both had given accounts to researchers for Boston College stating that Mr Adams had given the order for Mrs McConville’s murder in his role as head of an IRA unit in Belfast whose job was to seek out and punish anyone seen as collaborating with the British Army or the RUC.

Last Friday week, the PSNI took possession of the Dolours Price transcript, which had been in the possession of the US Department of Justice since last year. It and the tapes – part of a Boston College collection of recordings of former republicans and loyalists – is unlikely to lead to any action being taken against Mr Adams as Price had known mental health issues.

However, a federal court in Boston is expected to give final judgement next month in the appeal by Boston College in relation to 11 interviews with seven former IRA members also relating to the McConville murder and which are still held by the college.

In April, the Federal Appeals Court ordered that these tapes be handed over to the Department of Justice by the end of this month. Boston College is still considering this order but, if as appears likely it is compelled to release the tapes, the PSNI would then have no option but to question the former IRA members and Mr Adams.

Boston College said last week that reports that it had handed over the Dolours Price tapes and transcript were untrue. The tapes were passed into the possession of the Department of Justice after a court ruling last year.

The college said it assumed the department handed the tapes over to the PSNI, but could not be certain. It said reports last weekend that more transcripts or tapes were handed over were not true, and these remain in its possession for the time being.

Jack Dunn, the public affairs director at Boston College, said last week that he did not know if the Price tapes had been handed over to the PSNI by the department, and “it’s not my place to speak for them. They could have. The DoJ have been in possession of the Price tapes for more than a year. They’ve had them since January 2012”.

He pointed out that the contents of the Price tapes had already been widely reported in Ireland, where she gave extensive interviews to the media.

Mr Dunn said in an interview: “She referenced the tapes in those interviews and mentioned she drove a getaway car and she implicates Gerry Adams in the tapes too. Those things have been disclosed repeatedly.

“There’s nothing on the Dolours Price tapes that will be a surprise. There’s no reason for the tapes not to be sent to law enforcement, because the legal recourse of the United States has been exhausted regarding the Dolours Price tapes.”

In relation to the remaining 11 tapes from the seven other IRA members, he added: “The college has until the end of the month to decide whether to accept or appeal that court ruling. We’re in the process of making the determination as to what we will do over the course of the next several weeks.”

Seamus McKendry, the husband of Mrs McConville’s eldest daughter, Helen, said yesterday: “We are not certain what use the (Dolours Price) tapes will be. The sad thing is she was available for questioning while she was alive in either jurisdiction but there was no action taken despite her living admissions in the media. They waited too long.

“We are exploring the idea of a civil action. We have spoken to lawyers and are considering this. The Omagh families took their action after there was no justice for them.”

Senator intervenes in Boston tapes case

Senator intervenes in Boston tapes case
UTV News
Published Tuesday, 09 July 2013

US Senator Robert Menendez has outlined a certain conditions he wants to see imposed on any future handover of Boston College tapes to PSNI.

It comes after two PSNI detectives travelled to collect interviews connected to their investigation into the murder of one of the so-called Disappeared, Jean McConville.

A US Court of Appeal ordered that 11 interviews out of 85 be handed over to Northern Irish authorities, after it found a lower court ordered the release of more information than legally required.

In a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry, the committee chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he was concerned the material’s release could threaten the peace process.

Mr Menendez demanded that the State department should vet the interviews to be handed over to determine whether their release would damage relations or counter US interest.

The New Jersey Democrat also said the US should invoke a clause in the Treaty with Britain to allow for the transfer of the interviews only for purposes which the US approves and has given consent to – which would allow the American government to bar the use of the interviews in civil proceedings.

“Our country made a significant diplomatic investment in resolving “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland,” Mr Menendez said in the letter.

“It would be a terrible error in judgement if the United States was to not engage now in the due diligence necessary to protest our investment in this hard-won peace.”

The letter was published on Boston College campaigner Ed Moloney’s website.

He and Mr McIntyre have welcomed the senator’s intervention and say they hope to see his requests translated into action.

The men carried out the interviews as part of the ‘Belfast Project’ which began in 2001 with republican and loyalist paramilitaries to form part of an oral history of the Troubles.

Ex-IRA member Dolours Price was one of the interviewees, and it is claimed the former prisoner discussed the disappearance of Ms McConville.

The mother of ten was abducted and murdered by the IRA in 1972. Her body was recovered more than 30 years later.

The interviews were conducted under the assurance that the tapes would not be made public while the subjects were still alive. Price was found dead at her home in Dublin in January this year.

Former IRA member Brendan Hughes, who also took part in the project, died in 2008.

Menendez Fires Volley Across British Bows On Boston College Archive

Menendez Fires Volley Across British Bows On Boston College Archive
Ed Moloney
The Broken Elbow

Senator Robert Melendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress has dramatically intervened in the Boston College subpoenas case by outlining a series of conditions that he says the US should impose if any further interviews from the Belfast Project archive at Boston College are handed over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) on foot of British subpoenas.

Menendez’s intervention came in the wake of the Boston-based First Circuit Court of Appeal’s June decision to impose separate limitations on the handover – reducing the number of interviews scheduled for handover from 85 to 12 – and only days after PSNI detectives had traveled to Boston to pick up tapes and transcripts of interviews made by the late Dolours Price, a former IRA member who in media interviews last autumn claimed to have helped ‘disappear’ alleged British Army informer Jean McConville in 1972.

The conditions outlined by Menendez were made in a letter sent to Secretary of State John Kerry on June 28th but only released last night to the media and they are sure to provoke controversy and opposition in some quarters in both parts of Ireland not least because the Senator lays claim to a US stake in the peace process and Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.

He wrote: “Our country made a significant diplomatic investment in resolving ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. It would be a terrible error of judgement if the United States was not to engage now in the due diligence necessary to protect our investment in this hard-won peace.” With this language the Senate leader is saying unequivocally that the US has an interest in the possible negative effect on the peace process of handing over the Boston College tapes.

Menendez makes two important demands of Kerry and the Obama administration. One is that the State Department should vet the interviews scheduled for handover to determine whether their release would damage inter-communal relations or be counter to US national interests. He went on: “I share the concerns of many in the Irish-American community who have asserted that the nature of this request raises doubts about the wisdom of the British government’s Northern Ireland policies.”

But it is his second demand that will anger some in Northern Ireland. He says that the US should invoke a clause in the Treaty with Britain which allows for the transfer of the interviews only for purposes which the US approves and has given consent to.

This clause would allow the United States to bar the British authorities from releasing the interviews for civil proceedings. Although Senator Menendez does not go into detail it is clear that the effect of this condition would be to stop the family of Jean McConville from suing Gerry Adams or any of the interviewees in a civil court, an outcome the family and their supporters have openly admitted is something they hope to see happening.

In a short statement Boston College campaigners Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre welcomed Senator Menendez’ intervention and said they hoped and expected to see his letter soon translated into action.

Here is the full text of Senator Menendez’s letter: