Boston College ‘misled’ paramilitaries over tapes confidentiality

Boston College ‘misled’ paramilitaries over tapes confidentiality
28 June 2016

Former paramilitaries were misled into thinking they could reveal their activities to an American university study with complete impunity, a court has heard.

But a librarian from Boston College insisted any impression interview tapes would remain confidential during their lifetime was down to an oversight in a contract they signed.

Dr Robert O’Neill was giving evidence at a preliminary inquiry to decide if veteran Belfast republican Ivor Bell is to stand trial over the killing of Disappeared victim Jean McConville.

Bell, 79, from Ramoan Gardens in the city, denies charges of soliciting to murder connected to an allegation that he encouraged or persuaded others to kill the mother of 10.

Mrs McConville was seized by the IRA from her Divis Flats home in west Belfast in 1972 after being wrongly accused of being an informer.

Following her abduction she was shot dead and then secretly buried.

Her body was discovered on a Co Louth beach in 2003.

The case against Bell centres on an interview he allegedly gave to researchers involved in the Boston College history project with ex-paramilitaries about their roles in the Northern Ireland conflict.

Although it was believed transcripts were not to be published until after the deaths of those who took part, a US court ordered the tapes should be handed over to PSNI detectives investigating Mrs McConville’s killing.

It is alleged that Bell was one of the project interviewees, given the title Z, who spoke about the circumstances surrounding the decision to abduct her.

His legal team claim the case against him should be dismissed.

During a hearing at Belfast Magistrates’ Court to examine the strength of the evidence Dr O’Neill, Burns Librarian at the College, appeared by video link from Boston.

He confirmed a contract between the college and the project director guaranteed confidentiality only to the extent American law allowed.

But the court heard separate “donor agreements” with interviewees gave them the impression nothing would be disclosed without their consent prior to their deaths.

Cross-examining the librarian, Barry Macdonald QC, for Bell, asked: “Do you now see how they were all misled, those people who were interviewed?”

Dr O’Neill replied: “Yes.”

He also accepted counsel’s suggestion they received guarantees that should never have been given, leaving them feeling “free to make all sorts of claims in respect to themselves and other with impunity”.

The librarian agreed it was accurate to say interviewees believed there was no prospect of facing prosecution or having their accounts tested during their lifetimes.

Challenged on why he did nothing to correct the impression, he responded: “It was an oversight on my part and I will accept responsibility for that, that the agreement with the interviewees did not include the restriction ‘to the extent American law allows’.”

During the hearing it also emerged that he received 25 per cent of the royalties from journalist and author Ed Moloney’s book ‘Voices from the Grave’, based on Brendan Hughes’ and David Ervine’s contributions to the oral history project at Boston before their deaths.

Continuing with questioning, Mr Macdonald contended that interviewees were effectively induced into giving accounts of their involvement because they felt there would be no come back.

“Do you see how interviewees might have been led to believe by the terms of this agreement that they could, if they wanted to, settle old scores, or implicate people in things they hadn’t done, or implicate themselves in things they hadn’t done,” the barrister asked.

“In other words, the contracts themselves permitted the state of affairs which led to these interviews being inherently unreliable.”

Although Dr O’Neill accepted there may have been misunderstandings, he stressed that there could never be absolute confidentiality.

He went on: “It was widely believed that these stories were going to go to the grave.

“With the interviewees’ accounts there was an opportunity to record their stories, the entire project was motivated on the basis of recording as much as possible, the stories of participants in the paramilitary movement.”

Pressing him to confirm the donor agreement oversight was completely innocent, Mr Macdonald put it to the librarian that the consequences for those taking part could be “dire”.

He continued: “The question arises whether this was not inadvertent or accidental, but a deliberate omission in order to encourage all those interviewees to speak on the understanding that there would be no implications for them during their lifetimes.

“In other words it was deliberately done to loosen their tongues.”

Dr O’Neill replied: “I can only say it was not deliberate on my side.”

The hearing continues.

Belfast Project Protection of Research Letter From American Sociological Association Presidents

Belfast Project Protection of Research Letter From American Sociological Association Presidents

May 5, 2016

To Whom It May Concern:

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

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

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

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

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


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

Paula England
Immediate Past President
New York University

Michèle Lamont
President Elect
Professor of Sociology
Harvard University

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

Boston College subpoenaed for Anthony McIntyre interviews

Boston College subpoenaed for Anthony McIntyre interviews
British government seeks access to taped interview by former IRA prisoner
Gerry Moriarty
The Irish Times
Mon, Apr 25, 2016

The British government has lodged a subpoena with Boston College seeking access to taped interviews given by former IRA prisoner Dr Anthony McIntyre, it was stated on Monday.

Ed Moloney and Wilson McArthur, who were centrally involved with the Belfast Project – an oral history of the Troubles – said that the British government, acting on behalf of the PSNI and the office of the North’s Director of Public Prosecution, had served a subpoena on Boston College seeking access to Dr McIntyre’s personal interviews.

Former director of the project Mr Moloney and Mr McArthur, who interviewed former UVF members for the oral history, accused the authorities of engaging in an illegal “fishing expedition” in seeking access to Dr McIntyre’s tapes.

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

“Nevertheless, the university notified Mr McIntyre of the subpoena because it concluded that he should know that his materials had been requested. Given that the pending proceedings remain under seal, Boston College is not able to comment further on the matter,” added Mr Dunn.

Historian Dr McIntyre, who served time in prison on an IRA murder conviction, and Mr McArthur respectively interviewed 26 republican and 20 loyalist former paramilitaries for the project.

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

Interviewees were given commitments that there would be no disclosure of their interviews until after their deaths. Two of those who gave interviews were former senior IRA figure Brendan Hughes and former UVF member and Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine.

After their deaths their testimonies were included in a book by Mr Moloney called “Voices From the Grave” which contained information from Mr Hughes about the IRA’s abduction, murder and disappearance of Jean McConville in 1972.

Subsequently, as part of its investigation of Ms McConville’s murder the PSNI sought access to the Boston tapes. Ultimately under legal pressure Boston College handed over a number of tapes that are believed to contain reference to Ms McConville.

The release of the tapes also resulted in the arrest of veteran republican Ivor Bell (79) who also engaged with the project. He is charged with aiding and abetting in Ms McConville’s murder as well as membership of the IRA. His trial has yet to take place.

“This action by the DPP and PSNI is simply a fishing expedition, which is prohibited by international law,” said Mr Moloney and Mr McArthur.

“We do know, in particular, that this request does not have anything to do with the disappearance and murder of Jean McConville, which was the event that motivated this PSNI trawl five years ago,” they added.

“The subpoena request provides no details of specific charge, investigation or offence of which Dr McIntyre is accused, no names of alleged victims, no dates, no places. Instead the originators of this shoddy document mention matters which are so over-broad, that literally anyone alive during the Troubles in Northern Ireland could be accused of some association with them,” said Mr Moloney and Mr McArthur.

They added that Dr McIntyre has engaged Belfast human rights solicitor Kevin Winters “to resist these efforts to raid his personal memoirs”.

Mr Moloney and Mr McArthur said the arrest and charging of Mr Bell was an “abuse of process” as was the action against Dr McIntyre. They called on the Irish Government “not to co-operate with the British authorities should any effort be made to extradite Dr McIntyre from his home in Drogheda to Belfast for the purposes of yet another futile and inordinately expensive show trial”.

They added that the DPP and PSNI had requested, and the US Department of Justice had agreed, to a “demand that Boston College keep these legal proceedings secret, away from the prying eyes of the international press”.

The PSNI said it was not “commenting on the matter” while the DPP’s office was not in a position to comment at this stage. At the time of writing there was no response to queries from the Northern Ireland Office.

US Authorities Subpoena Anthony McIntyre’s Boston College Oral History Archive on Behalf of British

PSNI Serve ‘Fishing Expedition’ Subpoena On Anthony McIntyre –
US Agrees To ‘Star Chamber’ Hearing In Blatant Abuse of Process
April 25th, 2016

We have just learned that the British government, acting on behalf of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (“PSNI”) and the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (“DPP”) in Belfast, have served a subpoena on Boston College seeking personal interviews given by Dr. Anthony McIntyre to the Belfast Project based at Boston College, Massachusetts.

The subpoena has been served under the terms of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (“MLAT”) and the UK statute, the Crime International Cooperation Act 2003 (“CICA”).

Dr. McIntyre, who was lead IRA researcher for the Belfast project, gave a series of interviews himself which were conducted by a guest interviewer. Dr McIntyre has made no secret of this fact. He has now engaged leading Belfast human rights lawyer Kevin Winters of KRW Law LLP, to resist these efforts to raid his personal memoirs.


The subpoena request provides no details of specific charge, investigation or offence of which Dr. McIntyre is accused, no names of alleged victims, no dates, no places. Instead the originators of this shoddy document mention matters which are so overbroad, that literally anyone alive during the Troubles in Northern Ireland could be accused of some association with them.

We do know, in particular, that this request does not have anything to do with the disappearance and murder of Jean McConville, which was the event that motivated this PSNI trawl five years ago. Both the US District Court and the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit clearly deemed Dr. McIntyre’s interviews not to be relevant to the Jean McConville investigation.

Under the terms of the MLAT and CICA, which the authors of the subpoena claim as their legal basis for this action, requests for assistance from a foreign power may only be made where (a) there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence has been committed, and (b) proceedings have been instituted, or an offence is being investigated. There are no proceedings in being for any offences relating to Dr. McIntyre and there is no reason to believe that any current or historical offence is being investigated.

This action by the DPP and PSNI is simply a fishing expedition, which is prohibited by international law.


Boston College has been ordered to appear at the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse in Boston at 10 a.m. on May 6th to deliver Dr. McIntyre’s interviews.

The DPP and PSNI have requested, and the Obama Department of Justice has agreed, to demand that Boston College keep these legal proceedings secret, away from the pryng eyes of the international press. This Press Release puts paid to those nefarious efforts.

The gag notice means that the attempts of the British authorities once again to stifle academic research into the Troubles of Northern Ireland, an essential part of the peace process, was to be conducted entirely in secret like some modern day Star Chamber.

The use of secret courts offends every principle of legal fairness and openness inherent in the American legal system, as well as best international human rights practices, and we call on the media, in particular, whose First Amendment rights to cover such events are being undermined, to protest by turning up at the courthouse at 10:00 a.m. on May 6, 2016.

Secret courts and censored hearings smack of totalitarianism and they offend the public’s right to know.


The British authorities, the PSNI and the DPP have had more than ample time and opportunity to subpoena Dr.McIntyre’s materials before this. This begs the question, why are the authorities doing this now?

What is the real reason for this subpoena?

One explanation which leaps to mind is that this is an act of simple revenge, motivated by anger at the fact that the resistance to the subpoenas led by Dr. McIntyre embarrassed the prosecutorial authorities in Belfast, which have so far failed to bring any prosecution beyond the preliminary inquiry stage, never mind a successful conclusion to their well-publicized efforts in raiding and destroying a valuable Oral History archive. This is pay back, in other words.


Abuse of process is the only term to describe the treatment of Ivor Bell, who is the only individual charged following the receipt by the PSNI of Boston College materials. Mr. Bell has vigorously protested his innocence of any charges, and his case has not progressed past the preliminary inquiry stage after years of hearings.

Abuse of process is the only term to describe this latest move against Dr. McIntyre by the DPP and Obama’s DoJ. We therefore call on the Irish government not to co-operate with the British authorities should any effort be made to extradite Dr. McIntyre from his home in Drogheda to Belfast for the purposes of yet another futile and inordinately expensive “show trial.” We have sent a copy of this statement to the outgoing Taoiseach, Mr Enda Kenny and to the Fianna Fail leader, Micheal Martin TD.

We also call upon all decent-minded people in the US, politicians, lawyers, civil libertarians and members of the public to protest this disgraceful action by the Department of Justice. We call upon progressive candidates seeking nomination for the US Presidency to make their views clear on this matter.


This subpoena differs from all previous requests which were directed at the subjects of academic research. This subpoena is directed at an academic researcher, solely on the grounds that he attempted to record an alternative version of history. The implications for the rest of American academe are incontestable. What was it Pastor Niemoller said?

‘First they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist…..Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.’

Accordingly we appeal firstly to the Trustees of Boston College to support any legal effort to resist this subpoena. This is a matter which could adversely affect everyone teaching on Boston College’s campus. We would like to extend that appeal to the rest of American academe and ask the researchers and teachers of Higher Education in America to recognise the seriousness of this threat to researchers everywhere by making your opposition to this subpoena loud and clear.

This is a matter which directly affects academic freedom in America. This is not a time for silence or acquiescence.

Ed Moloney, former director Belfast Project
Wilson McArthur, lead UVF researcher for the Belfast Project

Boston College’s Belfast Project Lands in Court—Again

Boston College’s Belfast Project Lands in Court—Again
Beth McMurtrie
Chronicle of Higher Education
February 9, 2015

A Boston College oral-history project on Northern Ireland’s 30-year civil conflict has again found itself in court. On Monday a British judge ruled that the Police Services of Northern Ireland has the right to retrieve interviews given to Boston College by Winston Rea, a former loyalist paramilitary member and a participant in its Belfast Project. Mr. Rea had tried to block the handover of his interviews, which were supposed to remain confidential until his death.

In 2011 Boston College began a two-year court battle to prevent access to the archives by British authorities, which sought some material as part of a decades-old murder investigation. Boston College ultimately turned over a number of interviews. Last May the Police Services, which continues to investigate old crimes, said that it was going to seek the entire archive.

That appears to have resulted so far in one subpoena, for Mr. Rea’s material. Unlike the earlier court battle, the legal deliberations that led Boston College to turn over Mr. Rea’s interviews came to light only when he tried to stop the transfer of material into Northern Ireland. It is unclear if subpoenas for any other interviews have been issued.

Boston College declined to comment, saying the U.S Department of Justice had asked that the matter be kept confidential. The Justice Department also declined to comment.

Boston College tapes: Winston Rea loses legal challenge

Boston College tapes: Winston Rea loses legal challenge
By Alan Erwin
09 February 2015

A former loyalist prisoner has lost his legal battle to stop police investigating murder and robbery from obtaining interviews he gave to a US university project.

Winston “Winkie” Rea issued judicial review proceedings in an attempt to halt any handover of the Boston College material.

But a High Court judge today rejected claims that the move was unlawful and breached his rights to privacy.

Dismissing Rea’s challenge, Mr Justice Treacy said: “It’s clear in my view that the applicant is subject to a police investigation into crimes of the gravest kind.”

His ruling clears the way for PSNI detectives to fly to America to take possession of recordings of the loyalist’s interviews.

In a statement issued after the verdict, Rea repeated his claim that police and the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) were involved in nothing more than a “fishing exercise”.

He was among dozens of loyalists and republicans who provided testimonies to researchers compiling an oral history of the Northern Ireland conflict.

Interviews were given on the understanding that tapes would not be made public until after their deaths.

But those assurances were dealt a blow in 2013 when detectives investigating the abduction and murder of Belfast mother-of-ten Jean McConville back in 1972 secured the transcripts of former IRA woman Dolours Price’s account.

That material was handed over following court battles on both sides of the Atlantic.

Rea, a son-in-law of the late UVF leader Gusty Spence, claimed a subpoena for his tapes is unlawful and unspecific.

His barrister claimed the police move was based purely on rumour and a newspaper interview given by Rea and fellow loyalist William “Plum” Smith three years ago.

But the court was told an investigation has been launched into serious crimes stretching from the seventies to the late nineties.

The alleged offences include murder, directing terrorism, membership of a proscribed organisation and robbery.

An international request for the tapes said police have information that Rea was a member of the Red Hand Commando whose interviews would assist investigations into those crimes.

It claimed he has “a long involvement in organising and participating in terrorist offences in Northern Ireland, including murder, directing terrorism and robbery”.

He was also alleged to have acted as a personal security guard to Spence and met with former British Prime Minister John Major in 1996 – a claim disputed by Rea.

Mr Justice Treacy threw out his challenge after holding that the test for seeking the material had been met.

He said it was “manifest” from the terms of the request that a police investigation was underway.

“The request was plainly lawful,” the judge said.

“There is no credible contention that the applicant’s rights (under the European Convention on Human Rights) are infringed.”

Two weeks ago Rea secured a temporary injunction as police were set to board a plane for America to get the tapes.

But with his judicial review application dismissed, counsel for the PSNI confirmed that no longer applies.

Tony McGleenan QC said: “There was an order for interim relief made by consent. That is revoked and police are now free to proceed.”

The judge replied: “I assume that flows automatically.”

Boston College tapes: Truth-recovery pie in the sky as long as shadow of arrest looms

Boston College tapes: Truth-recovery pie in the sky as long as shadow of arrest looms
The agreement about dealing with the past hammered out at Stormont House could be derailed by another Boston College tapes crisis – this time involving a leading loyalist.
Brian Rowan
30 January 2015

The latest battle for access to the Boston College tapes threatens to open up a much wider debate and discussion on the past. This oral history project recorded republicans, loyalists and, it is believed, a former RUC officer, telling their stories of the conflict years. Those stories were meant to stay untold until after they died.

The book Voices From The Grave, authored by journalist Ed Moloney, brought into the public domain words spoken by former IRA leadership figure Brendan Hughes and loyalist David Ervine. Both died in their 50s.

And it was the Hughes revelations, including what he said about the IRA abduction, “execution” and disappearance of Jean McConville, which were to lead to dramatic developments.

These included the headline arrest of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams last April. Adams was questioned from Wednesday April 30 through to his release on Sunday May 4; that questioning extending to an examination of IRA membership, all of which Adams denied. He described a “malicious, untruthful and sinister campaign” against him.

And, all these months later, there is now a different focus. The latest Boston College news is about trying to access the tapes of loyalist Winston ‘Winkie’ Rea.

He is a former prisoner, leader of the Red Hand Commando, son-in-law of the late Gusty Spence and, in the peace process years, was seen as an important figure in the ceasefire and decommissioning debates. Rea was a close friend of Ervine, a member of the UVF who became a Stormont MLA.

Adams attended Ervine’s funeral in January 2007; a remarkable occasion that had the Sinn Fein president, the UVF leadership, then Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde, Secretary of State Peter Hain and former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds under one roof.

This was following the ceasefires and after the Good Friday Agreement and in a climate where the once impossible became possible. And it was in this context that some began to tell their stories of the conflict years.

If the now-published Ervine example is anything to go by, then loyalists have been much less revelatory in their recordings; less accusatory.

The Jean McConville case, demonstrating the worst horrors of conflict, gave a specific focus to the police investigation around the republican tapes and disclosures. But this is not the case with Rea.

Loyalists, including William ‘Plum’ Smith, who was successful in a legal challenge to have his Boston tapes and transcripts returned, see this as nothing more than a fishing exercise.

Three years ago, in an interview with this newspaper, he said his move to have his tapes returned was not out of concern about their content.

“I’m concerned about the principle,” he said. “I have asked for the tapes back, because Boston College cannot guarantee the basis on which the interviews were given.”

This was a reference to the belief that contributions to the archive would remain confidential until after death.

Rea also commented back then. He believed that, if the Smith test case was won, then it would have “a domino effect” for others wishing to have their material returned.

But this has not been so for him. The question is why? Is it the loyalist paramilitary leadership role Rea once held in the so-called “war” years, his leadership of an organisation identified with guns, bullets, bombs and killing?

Smith, also a former Red Hand Commando prisoner and a close friend of Rea, has his own thinking on the latest move.

He believes that, after the Adams arrest, this is “another balancing act” – similar to when a number of loyalists were interned decades ago.

And he also believes that, in the here and now, it “flies in the face of any attempt to create a truth-recovery process”.

Budgets and welfare reform were the main focus of the pre-Christmas Stormont House talks. And, alongside those issues, there was a big effort to achieve a structure that would finally begin to address the many unanswered questions of the past.

After Eames/Bradley and the Haass/O’Sullivan processes, this was the third attempt to achieve this.

And there is now a paper agreement to build upon; an Historical Investigations Unit (HIU), an Independent Commission for Information Retrieval (ICIR), an Implementation and Reconciliation Group (IRG), with archive and acknowledgement elements.

But any information-recovery process will depend on co-operation across the conflict board – governments, intelligence agencies, military, police, republicans and loyalists. But what chance of that being achieved or being achievable in the current climate?

Smith answered that question when he talked about these latest investigative moves relating to the Boston project flying in the face of attempts to create a truth-recovery process.

The ICIR intended to deal with this would act privately and through interlocutors reaching out into those different worlds of governments, intelligence, security and the various armed loyalist and republican groups.

It is about questions and answers. But who is going to answer, even if there are guarantees that information given in this process will not have any evidential value?

Rea, Smith, other loyalists and republicans thought, believed, understood, that the Boston College project was protected by confidentiality.

This may have been their understanding, but it hasn’t been the reality.

From the publication of the Hughes transcripts and other revelations, this project has unravelled into a legal mess and battlefield.

Investigations and arrests have followed and, now, there is the news of the Rea case, which has created another bad mood within the loyalist community that this is some type of “balancing act”, or “equaliser”.

And the consequences of this are that it will put people back in their trenches; into places of silence rather than talking.

There may well be many unanswered questions but, in this atmosphere, there won’t be answers. And that has implications for that paper agreement made in Stormont House.

What is the point of an information or truth-recovery process without significant co-operation and disclosure? Information will not flow within a process that still has the potential to lead to arrests, charges and perhaps prison for however short a time.

And we know from the assessments of policing experts that investigations will deliver little in terms of jail time and justice.

But investigations will block the potential to open up and open out some greater sharing of information and explanation and understanding of the conflict years.

What we are watching is not just a case about one man, or one actor within the conflict period, but something that potentially has much wider implications.

And, all of this tells us that the past hasn’t gone away.

The Belfast Project and the Dangers of the Subpoena Power

The Belfast Project and the Dangers of the Subpoena Power
Legal History
Federal Bar Council Quarterly
Sep/Oct/Nov 2014, Vol XXII No 1
By James L. Bernard and Nathan H. Stopper
13 Dec 2014

In 2001, an ambitious project by Boston College (“BC”) to document the oral history of a brutal conflict began. Under the auspices of BC, a librarian, a journalist, and a former Irish Republican Army (“IRA”) paramilitant began interviewing individuals involved in the decades-long conflict in Northern Ireland. In what became known as the Belfast Project (the “Project”), they conducted candid interviews under the cloak of anonymity with 40 former members of the IRA and its rival Protestant paramilitary groups, along with one former law enforcement officer. By all appearances, this was a well-intentioned and noble project to explore in confidence a dark period in history, and to try to discover what lessons could be learned when all involved were able to speak freely and openly about what happened. Things did not turn out as planned. Once authorities in the United Kingdom learned of the Project, they tried to obtain the information that had been shared in confidence. This article explores what happened in the U.S. courts regarding those efforts, and lessons to be learned from the ensuing legal battle.

The Interviews

The interviews were nominally “donations” made by the subjects to BC, and each interviewee signed an “Agreement for Donation” that restricted access to the tapes and transcripts of their interviews until after their deaths, absent the subject’s written consent.1 An additional agreement between the Project’s director, Ed Moloney, and BC provided that “[e]ach interviewee is to be given a contract guaranteeing to the extent American law allows” strict safeguards to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of an interview.2

Notwithstanding these confidentiality agreements, in 2011 BC was served with two sets of subpoenas (the “Belfast Subpoenas”) by a commissioner appointed pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 35123 and a mutual legal assistance treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom (the “US-UK MLAT”).4 The first subpoena sought materials from the interviews of former IRA members Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes, while the second requested all information obtained by the Project regarding the abduction and murder of Jean McConville, a mother of 10 “disappeared” by the IRA in 1972. With the exception of the materials related to Mr. Hughes,5 BC sought to have both subpoenas quashed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

Mr. Moloney and the former IRA paramilitant, Anthony McIntyre, attempted to intervene in the lawsuit filed by BC, and separately filed a similar civil complaint seeking to block the production of these materials. The court, however, ordered the production of all materials responsive to the first subpoena and 85 interviews responsive to the second.6 While BC did not appeal the order regarding the first subpoena, Messrs. Moloney and McIntyre appealed to the First Circuit.7 The circuit court affirmed the district court’s decision and ordered the production of materials from the interviews of Ms. Price, “who had admitted to being involved in the murder and ‘disappearances’ of four persons targeted by the IRA, including Jean McConville.”8 BC subsequently filed an appeal regarding the second subpoena, and the First Circuit overturned the denial of the motion to quash as to 74 of the 85 interviews, finding that they were not responsive to the subpoena.9 Thus, after two separate appeals, BC was ordered to produce both Ms. Price’s interview materials and the materials from 11 interviews relevant to Ms. McConville’s “disappearance.”10

The production of even these materials had profound consequences as they led to the recent arrest of Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Féin and a current member of the Irish Parliament. We explore further below both the scope of subpoena power as relevant to this proceeding and the accompanying statutory protections, as well as additional defenses with particular relevance to the Project: the reporter and academic privilege, and the self-critical analysis privilege.

The Power to Quash

Although the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure grant parties broad subpoena power, they also impose certain limitations. Among such limitations, a court “must quash or modify a subpoena that requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, if no exception or waiver applies.”11 However, “the mere fact that a communication was made in express confidence … does not create a privilege.”12

Because the Belfast Subpoenas were issued under 18 U.S.C. § 3512 and the US-UK MLAT, a major threshold issue was whether, because the applicable treaty gives the Attorney General “exclusive prerogative in initiating proceedings[,] federal courts have discretion to quash a subpoena in this context.”13 While the government argued that “the Attorney General’s exclusive prerogative … [barred] judicial oversight of the subpoena enforcement process,” the First Circuit held that it had jurisdiction because “the enforcement of subpoenas is an inherent judicial function which … cannot be constitutionally divested from the courts of the United States.”14 Thus, resolution of the appeals turned on whether the appellants were able to assert a recognized privilege.

The Reporter’s Privilege

The primary substantive issue raised in the Belfast Project litigation was the protection afforded by the First Amendment to academics.15 Because such protection closely mirrors the protection enjoyed by reporters, a review of the reporter’s privilege is helpful.

The seminal case addressing this privilege is the Supreme Court’s decision in Branzburg v. Hayes, a plurality opinion unevenly interpreted by the circuits. There, and briefly summarized, the Court held that even where revealing materials sought by a grand jury subpoena would break a reporter’s promise of confidentiality, the First Amendment does not protect the reporter from having to comply with the subpoena.16 Taking particular offense to the suggestion that the Constitution protected promises made to criminals that could undermine law enforcement, the Court reasoned that “we cannot seriously entertain the notion that the First Amendment protects a newsman’s agreement to conceal the criminal conduct of his source, or evidence thereof, on the theory that it is better to write about crime than to do something about it.”17

Despite the Supreme Court’s reluctance to recognize such a privilege, subsequent decisions in lower courts have approved of some protections for subpoenaed reporters when the facts are distinguishable from Branzburg, especially in the context of civil litigation.18 Building on Justice Powell’s Branzburg concurrence, courts have held that “a qualified reporter’s privilege under the First Amendment should be readily available in civil cases,” and that to determine whether the privilege applies, courts should weigh “the public interest in protecting the reporter’s sources against the private interest in compelling disclosure.”19 Other courts have gone beyond the civil context, stating that there is “no legally-principled reason for drawing a distinction between civil and criminal cases when considering whether the reporter’s interest in confidentiality should yield to the moving party’s need for probative evidence.”20

Importantly for the Belfast Project litigation, the First Circuit has held that the Constitution offers some protection for reporters’ confidential sources.21 In In re Special Proceedings, it held that “the disclosure of a reporter’s confidential sources may not be compelled unless directly relevant to a nonfrivolous claim or inquiry undertaken in good faith; and disclosure may be denied where the same information is readily available from a less sensitive source.”22 The First Circuit therefore requires “heightened sensitivity” to First Amendment concerns in civil litigation.23

The existence of a reporter’s privilege, even when limited to civil litigation, is not unanimously accepted. The Seventh Circuit has held that while “[a] large number of cases conclude, rather surprisingly in light of Branzburg, that there is a reporter’s privilege … courts should simply make sure that a subpoena duces tecum directed to the media, like any other subpoena duces tecum, is reasonable in the circumstances, which is the general criterion for judicial review of subpoenas.”24 Similarly, the Sixth Circuit has held that Justice Powell’s Branzburg concurrence is consistent with the majority opinion and creates no qualified privilege for the media.

Thus, while reporters in federal litigation may enjoy some protection for withholding subpoenaed information, such protection requires a favorable outcome of a balancing test whose existence and application diverge widely by circuit.25

The Academic Research Privilege

One of the primary concerns of the Branzburg plurality was that, because “almost any author could assert that he contributes to the flow of information to the public,” recognizing a reporter’s privilege for protecting confidential sources would force courts to define the scope of those covered by such a privilege, including whether it extended to academics.26 The Supreme Court subsequently declined to recognize an academic privilege in University of Pennsylvania v. E.E.O.C., an employment discrimination case, where it held that the First Amendment’s protection of academic freedom did not permit educational institutions to withhold subpoenaed confidential peer review materials relating to the tenure process.27

Nonetheless, as many courts recognized some form of a reporter’s privilege, they have also defined its scope to include academia. In one of the early cases addressing the coverage afforded by the journalist’s privilege, the Second Circuit held in von Bulow by Auersperg v. von Bulow that an individual claiming the privilege “must demonstrate … the intent to use material sought to disseminate information to the public,” but need not necessarily be a traditional journalist.28 Citing von Bulow, among other cases, the First Circuit endorsed the reach of a privilege beyond journalists in Cusumano v. Microsoft Corp., where it noted that “several of our sister circuits have held that the medium an individual uses to provide his investigative reporting to the public does not make a dispositive difference in the degree of protection accorded to his work.”29 The Cusumano court then held that “[a]cademicians engaged in pre-publication research should be accorded protection commensurate to that which the law provides for journalists.”30

Despite the First Circuit’s recognition of this academic privilege, the courts in both Belfast Project appeals held that because the litigation involved underlying criminal proceedings, Branzburg’s analysis controlled their disposition.31 Thus, in the first appeal, the First Circuit held that even though compliance with the subpoenas could have some chilling effect, no academic privilege applied because Branzburg compelled the conclusion that the “choice to investigate criminal activity belongs to the government and is not subject to veto by academic researchers.”32 Similarly, in the second appeal, where BC argued that a heightened sensitivity standard of relevancy should have applied, the court held that under Branzburg, “the public’s need for information relevant to a bona fide criminal investigation precludes the recognition of a First Amendment privilege not available to the ordinary citizen,” and ordered the production of all relevant materials.33 The First Circuit was clear that “[t]he choice to investigate criminal activity belongs to the government and is not subject to veto by academic researchers.”34

The Self-Critical Analysis Doctrine

An additional, although more tenuous, argument for contesting the Belfast Subpoenas would have been the much-maligned self-critical analysis doctrine. Although frequently cited by parties seeking to protect information, “a majority of the Circuits have refused to recognize or apply the privilege.”35 Originally described in Bredice v. Doctors Hospital,36 the privilege’s contours are generally agreed upon: first, “the information [at issue] must result from a critical self-analysis undertaken by the party seeking protection; [second] the public must have a strong interest in preserving the free flow of the type of information sought; [and third] the information must be of the type whose flow would be curtailed if discovery were allowed.”37 Courts have also applied “the general proviso that no document will be accorded a privilege unless it was prepared with the expectation that it would be kept confidential, and has in fact been kept confidential.”38

In Bredice, a plaintiff in a medical malpractice suit sought to discover information from a hospital’s professional staff committee meetings. The court held that because the meetings were “not a part of current patient care, but [were] retrospective with the purpose of self-improvement, [they were entitled] to a qualified privilege on the basis of this overwhelming public interest.”39 The court further elaborated that “the public interest may be a reason for not permitting inquiry into particular matters by discovery,” and was especially concerned that the committee’s value would be destroyed if its proceedings were discoverable.40

Courts have subsequently been skeptical of the self-critical analysis privilege, but have frequently refrained from disavowing it, instead finding that specific facts in a particular litigation preclude its application. In Dowling, for example, the Ninth Circuit held that even if the privilege existed, pre-accident safety reviews conducted on a ship were not subject to it because holding such reviews discoverable would not create a “chilling effect” on the candid assessment of safety issues.41 Likewise, in In re Currency Conversion Fee, the court held that while “the availability of the self-critical analysis privilege is an open question in [the Second] Circuit,” it did not protect management control studies and internal audit reports.42 In Ganious v. Apache Clearwater Operations, Inc., however, the court disclaimed the privilege more explicitly, stating that “all of the courts in [the Fifth] Circuit confronting the issue have declined to find that the self-critical analysis privilege exists, even in the instance of a post-accident investigation.”43

Although not cited by the parties at any stage of the Belfast Project litigation, the Project satisfied some of the privilege’s elements. The interviews were certainly undertaken with the expectation of confidentiality, and the flow of sensitive information would undoubtedly cease if the subjects knew they were discoverable. Further, the public may have had an interest in the continuation of the Project, although likely not rising to the level of the hospital meetings at issue in Berdice. Most importantly, however, the interviews were not conducted for the express purpose of self-improvement, and lacking such a purpose, the privilege would most likely not have applied.


Individuals must proceed with caution when gathering information pursuant to confidentiality agreements. We imagine that everyone involved in the Belfast Project thought the contractual provisions of confidentiality were sufficient. The stakes, after all, were extremely high as individuals would be discussing criminal conduct, and therefore the interviews would not have taken place unless all involved believed those provisions would provide adequate protection. The lesson learned here, however, is that contractual obligations of confidentiality are sometimes insufficient. And here, that vulnerability came from abroad, in the form of a subpoena through a U.S. Commissioner providing assistance in a criminal matter to a foreign government. Imposing the benefit of hindsight on those involved seems harsh; it is hard to blame them for failing to assess the likelihood that a U.S. Commissioner would be appointed to assist a foreign government in a criminal investigation. But after this litigation, it seems clear that even assuming the First Amendment offers some protection to academics (or reporters), information gathered under contractual provisions of confidentiality will nonetheless be highly vulnerable to subpoena, especially for law enforcement purposes. BC learned this lesson the hard way: it recently announced that it will return the original recordings from the Belfast Project to any interviewee who requests them and will not preserve any additional copies or transcripts.44 That is a shame for the pursuit of academic research projects and good faith efforts to explore dark moments in history with candor, but the First Circuit’s decisions make clear that contractual promises of confidentiality must yield to law enforcement requests for information.




  1. In re Request from United Kingdom Pursuant to Treaty Between Gov’t of U.S. & Gov’t of United Kingdom on Mut. Assistance in Criminal Matters in the Matter of Dolours Price, 685 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2012) [hereinafter “Moloney”], cert. denied, 133 S. Ct. 1796 (2013).
  2. Id. Importantly, “[n]o lawyers vetted the wording of [the underlying agreement for participants], and no one at BC other than [the head librarian and the head of Irish Programs at BC] reviewed Mr. Moloney’s contract or the one drawn up for interviewees.” Beth McMurtrie, Secrets From Belfast, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan. 26, 2014, at 4, available at
  3. Section 3512 permits the government to seek court orders and the appointment of a commissioner to collect evidence to effectuate a request from a foreign government for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of criminal matters.
  4. Moloney. 685 F.3d at 3.
  5. Because Mr. Hughes was deceased, as per his Agreement for Donation, BC was no longer bound by any contractual confidentiality obligations regarding his interviews.
  6. In re Request from the United Kingdom Pursuant to the Treaty Between the Gov’t of the U.S. & the Gov’t of the United Kingdom on Mut. Assistance in Criminal Matters in the Matter of Dolours Price, MISC. 11-91078-WGY, 2012 WL 194432 (D. Mass. Jan. 20, 2012).
  7. See Moloney, 685 F.3d at 4.
  8. Id. at 5.
  9. Id. at 19; In re Request from the United Kingdom Pursuant to the Treaty between the Gov’t of the U.S. & the Gov’t of the United Kingdom on Mut. Assistance in Criminal Matters in the Matter of Dolours Price, 718 F.3d 13, 27 (1st Cir. 2013) [hereinafter “Boston College”].
  10. See id.; Moloney, 685 F.3d at 4.
  11. Id. 45(d)(3)(A)(iii).
  12. Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665, 682 n.21 (1972).
  13. Boston College, 718 F.3d at 23.
  14. Id.
  15. See Moloney, 685 F.3d at 16; Boston College, 718 F.3d at 20.
  16. 408 U.S. at 690-91; see also Moloney, 685 F.3d at 16.
  17. Branzburg, 408 U.S. at 690-91.
  18. See Zerilli v. Smith, 656 F.2d 705, 712 (D.C. Cir. 1981) (stating that “every other circuit that has considered the question has ruled that a [reporter’s] privilege should be readily available in civil cases, and that a balancing approach should be applied”). See also, e.g., In re Grand Jury Proceedings, 5 F.3d 397, 400 (9th Cir. 1993) (holding that no privilege applied when the “circumstances of the case fall squarely within those of Branzburg”).
  19. See, e.g., Grand Jury Proceedings, 5 F.3d at 400.
  20. United States v. Burke, 700 F.2d 70, 76-77 (2d Cir. 1983). See also, e.g., United States v. Cuthbertson, 630 F.2d 139, 146-47 (3rd Cir. 1980).
  21. Cusumano v. Microsoft Corp., 162 F.3d 708, 716 (1st Cir. 1998); Bruno & Stillman, Inc. v. Globe Newspaper Co., 633 F.2d 583, 596 (1st Cir. 1980).
  22. In re Special Proceedings, 373 F.3d 37, 45 (1st Cir. 2004).
  23. Id.
  24. McKevitt v. Pallasch, 339 F.3d 530, 532-33 (7th Cir. 2003). See also In re Grand Jury Proceedings, 810 F.2d 580, 583-84 (6th Cir. 1987) (rejecting the existence of a reporter’s privilege).
  25. As of 2011, 40 states had enacted laws protecting reporters from subpoenas. See Aaron Mackey, Number of states with shield law climbs to 40, 35 The News Media & the Law 3, 27 (Summer 2011), available at However, the federal law of privilege applies in federal cases involving state law claims. See, e.g., Virmani v. Novant Health Inc., 259 F.3d 284, 287 n.3 (4th Cir. 2001).
  26. Branzburg, 408 U.S. at 703.
  27. 493 U.S. 182 , 199-200. This case is distinguishable from Branzburg and the Belfast Project litigation for at least two important reasons: first, Univ. of Penn. was reluctant to recognize a privilege where Congress had extended the relevant statute to educational institutions and provided for broad subpoena powers, but chose not to create a privilege for peer reviewed documents; and second, Univ. of Penn. found that the asserted infringement of First Amendment rights was “extremely attenuated,” because it relied upon a long chain of causation to claim that disclosure affected academic freedom. Id. at 189, 199-200.
  28. 811 F.2d 136, 147 (2d Cir. 1987) (“On rare occasions the journalist’s privilege has been invoked successfully by persons who are not journalists in the traditional sense of that term”).
  29. 162 F.3d at 714.
  30. Id.
  31. Moloney, 685 F.3d at 16; Boston College, 718 F.3d at 24.
  32. Moloney, 685 F.3d at 19.
  33. Boston College, 718 F.3d at 24.
  34. Moloney, 685 F.3d at 19.
  35. Davis v. Kraft Foods N. Am., CIV A 03-6060, 2006 WL 3486461, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 1, 2006).
  36. 50 F.R.D. 249 (D. D.C. 1970).
  37. Dowling v. Am. Hawaii Cruises, Inc., 971 F.2d 423, 426 (9th Cir. 1992) (citing Note, The Privilege of Self–Critical Analysis, 96 Harv. L. Rev. 1083, 1086 (1983)).
  38. Dowling, 971 F.2d at 426 (citing Peterson v. Chesapeake & Ohio Ry., 112 F.R.D. 360, 363 (W.D. Mich. 1986); Westmoreland v. CBS, Inc., 97 F.R.D. 703, 706 (S.D.N.Y. 1983)).
  39. Bredice, 50 F.R.D. at 251.
  40. Id.
  41. Dowling, 971 F.2d at 426.
  42. In re Currency Conversion Fee, MDL 1409, 2003 WL 22389169, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 21, 2003). But see Trezza v. Hartford, Inc., 98 CIV. 2205 (MBMKNF), 1999 WL 511673, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. July 20, 1999) (holding that self-critical analysis privilege protected voluntary internal studies regarding employment discrimination).
  43. CRIM.A. 98-207, 2004 WL 287366, at *2 (E.D. La. Feb. 11, 2004).
  44. Peter Schworm, BC will return its interviews on Ireland, The Boston Globe, May 6, 2014, available at

Storey arrest ‘based on information given to oral history project’

Storey arrest ‘based on information given to oral history project’
Irish News

It was like listening to Walter Mitty and Billy Liar being interviewed by Lord Haw Haw — Bobby Storey

BOBBY Storey has described his arrest in connection with the disappearance of Jean McConville as “politically motivated’ and said it was based on information given to the Boston College project.

The senior republican and northern chairman of Sinn Féin was arrested last week and questioned for several hours in connection with the 1972 abduction, murder and secret burial of the west Belfast mother of 10.

The 58-year-old, who would have been 16 at the time of Mrs McConville’s abduction. said he was questioned solely about information contained in interviews made by former IRA men as part of an oral history project.

He also claimed his arrest, and that of other senior republicans, including party leader Gerry Adams, was aimed at stunting “the rapid growth of Sinn Féin”.

In an interview with the Belfast Media Group the former IRA prisoner, who was released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, said he was “innocent of any involvement” in the disappearance of the west Belfast woman.

“There is absolutely no need to use coercive legislation to deal with legacy issues but someone clearly wanted a headline-grabbing arrest,” he said.

However, he added “despite my arrest, we (Sinn Féin) will not allow old agendas to get in the way of progress.

“I will continue to support efforts to make the PSNI accountable”.

The senior Sinn Féin member said he was read transcripts of the Boston College tapes by detectives in Antrim who told him the names of the interviewees.

The interviews were carried out by former IRA man Anthon McIntyre as part of a project directed by journalist Ed Moloney.

While the former IRA members interviewed were given assurances that the recordings would be kept secret until after their deaths, a number of tapes were handed over to the PSNI following a legal battle in the USA.

Mr Storey, who was part of an IRA gang who escaped from the Maze in 1983, said having heard transcripts of the interviews he “understood” while those involved were keen to keep the project secret.

“They are shameful if not a bit pathetic… they are full of contempt, anger and vitriol.

“It was like listening to Walter Mitty and Billy Liar being interviewed by Lord Haw Haw. It all sounded like self inflated, ego tripping, propagandising rants.

“A typical question was like a mini speech with a question mark at the end of it. In everything they read out to me the question was four or five
times longer than the answer,” he added.

To date nine people — four men and five women — have been questioned in connection with the historic investigation into the murder of Mrs McConville.

One man Ivor Bell (77) has been charged with IRA membership and aiding and abetting the murder.

Boston Tapes Read to Storey

QUESTIONED: Bobby Storey is scathing about the tapes’ contents

Content ‘shameful and pathetic’ says SF chair
It was like listening to Walter Mitty and Billy Liar being interviewed by Lord Haw Haw. It all sounded like self inflated ego-tripping, propagandising rants.” Bobby Storey

Andersonstown News
Saturday Edition, 6 December 2014 (published 4 December 2014)

EXTRACTS from the controversial Boston College tapes formed the basis of the interrogation of the leading Belfast republican Bobby Storey After his arrest last Thursday.

The Sinn Féin six county chair was questioned for several hours in Antrim Serious Crime Suite about an IRA investigation into the whereabouts of Divis mother- of-ten Jean McConville, who was abducted and shot dead by the IRA in 1972 before being secretly buried. Her remains were found in 2003.

The tapes were recorded as part of the now discredited Boston College Belfast Project in which conflict protagonists gave interviews on the understanding that they would not be made public until after their deaths.

Despite this, the tapes were handed over to the PSNI after a US court battle. Some interviewees say they now plan to sue Boston College.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News this week, Mr Storey said his arrest was politically motivated and followed a pattern which has seen the recent arrest of several senior republicans. He added that the arrests are an attempt to “thwart the rapid growth of Sinn Féin”.

“When the PSNI arrived at my home they said, ‘You’re under arrest as part of the investigation into the murder of Jean McConville.’ I replied,

‘Jean McConville? Seriously?’ such was the ridiculousness of it to me. The cop looked awkward. I said to my partner before I left, ‘This is the politics of the day, I’m arrested because I’m the chair of Sinn Féin in the six counties. This is about the party, not me.

‘Let me be very clear, I am innocent of any involvement in the conspiracy to investigate, abduct, kill or bury Mrs McConville. ”

The former IRA prisoner said his arrest could have been handed differently.

“There is absolutely no need to use coercive legislation to deal with legacy issues but someone clearly wanted a headline- grabbing arrest. There are two standards operating here. No British soldiers or RUC officers involved in killings, conspiracies or collusion are subject to the same treatment. But the nationalist community is not fooled by all this. The amount of support I’ve received since last week is phenomenal. I see that as a clear sign that people know well this is not about the tragedy around Mrs McConville. This is about assailing Sinn Féin.”

‘Boston tapes questions longer than answers’

“Our communities have watched on as the British government reneged on its commitment to hold an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane, refuses a Hillsborough-type inquiry into the Ballymurphy Massacre and continues to cover up the role of the British state in collusion and killings.

“It all emphasises the need to deal with the past, not cynically exploit it. This is why we need a proper process such as that proposed by Richard Haass and Meaghan O’Sullivan.

“I want to also make it clear that, despite my arrest, we will not allow old agendas to get in the way of progress.

I will continue to support the efforts to make the PSNI accountable. Obviously this is work in progress, but I’m determined to work with others to build a genuinely civic policing service.”

Mr Storey said his questioning ran the gamut “from comedy to farce”.

“It was an almost surreal scenario where a very tragic situation was being used, in my firm opinion, as part of a political demonisation agenda against members of the Sinn Fein leadership,” he said. “I was presented with this following picture, which is becoming a recognised concoction against republicans in recent times.

“Person ‘A’ requests to meet the IRA. The IRA allegedly agrees to meet them to assist them. The meeting then allegedly takes place. Person ‘A’ subsequently goes to police to tell them about the supposed meeting. Person ‘A’ then wants the people they say they met charged with membership. So Person ‘A’ created and shapes the whole scene, then wants to use it to condemn who they say they met. This is the third such similar case in recent times.

“I was questioned on allegations from the infamous Boston tapes. Police told me the names of the interviewer on the tapes and the interviewees and the information that they provided on army volunteers, meetings, units, structures and operations, naming individuals and events.

“The tapes that were read out to me were read out in full – who said what. The PSNI told me these tapes were made in the belief they would not be released until after the interviewee’s death. It’s only when you listen to them that you appreciate why that proviso would be in there.

They are shameful, if not a bit pathetic.

“What strikes one upon listening to them is they are full of contempt, anger and vitriol. It’s also clear to me, listening to them, that truth is a casualty, as the interviewer and interviewee throw flowers at themselves as they demonise and ridicule everyone they regard as a political enemy.

“It was like listening to Walter Mitty and Billy Liar being interviewed by Lord Haw Haw. It all sounded like self-inflated ego-tripping, propagandising rants.

“The interviewer set the context and tone, and each question was leading by nature. A typical question was like a mini-speech with a question mark at the end. In everything they read out to me the question was four to five times longer than the answer. The answer was like an acceptance with the context of the question.”

Mr Storey says that despite his arrest Sinn Féin will “work flat-out making policing accountable”.

“We promote good civil policing in society and we condemn bad policing,” he said. “We need to get beyond the old agendas, this is policing at its poorest.

“We’ve had the party president arrested earlier this year and two councillors in the past few days, as well as myself. I would say most people would see it as politics.

“This is all going on at a time when two things are happening. There is a rapid growth in Sinn Féin and we are at our strongest since 1918. Our political opponents thought we had peaked at almost half a million votes in the European elections north and south. However, polls are indicating that our vision of a modern Irish republic based on equality continues to click with people.

“Secondly, we in Sinn Féin are the subject of the biggest demonisation campaign ever and it’s right across the island. Both these things are connected as our political opponents fear our vision.”