GUARDIAN: Call for investigation of alleged Boston College-IRA archive spying

Call for investigation of alleged Boston College-IRA archive spying
Governments urged to look into whether private communications to the US embassy in Dublin were illegally intercepted
Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent
The Guardian
18 June 2014

The American and Irish governments have been challenged to investigate an alleged spying operation directed at a family at the centre of the Boston College-IRA archive controversy that led to Gerry Adams’ arrest in April.

Ireland’s prime minister Enda Kenny and the US secretary of state John Kerry have received letters from the Belfast Project’s director urging them to back a thorough criminal inquiry into claims that private communications from an American citizen and the US embassy in Dublin were illegally intercepted.

American-born Carrie Twomey’s husband, an ex-IRA prisoner, recorded the taped testimonies of Irish republicans for the Belfast Project. She has made a formal complaint to the Garda Síochána about how her private messages to US diplomats ended up in an Irish Sunday tabloid last month.

Ed Moloney, the Belfast Project’s director, has also written letters to the leader of the Irish Republic’s main opposition party Fianna Fáil and a powerful US senator calling on them to back an investigation on both sides of the Atlantic into how Carrie Twomey’s communications were made public.

In his letter to Kerry, Moloney states that “while we do not know for certain sources that I trust strongly suggest the involvement of a proscribed organisation rather than an agency of the Irish state”.

Moloney points out to Barack Obama’s peace envoy to the Middle East that he has also called on the Irish premier to support a trans-Atlantic criminal investigation into the spying claims.

“I believe that this is part of a mounting campaign of threat, menace and intimidation of the McIntyres. I fear for their safety and wellbeing and I expressed the hope that the prime minister would leave no stone unturned in the search for those responsible.”

And in his letter to the Taoiseach, Moloney says: “I am writing to ask you to leave no stone unturned in the search for those responsible and in the effort to make them amenable under the law. Tapping the phones of Irish citizens in any circumstances is unpleasant and offensive even when it is carried out within the law by legitimate agencies. But when it is done by illegal organisations and involves intercepting communications by an important ally it is, I am sure you will agree, a direct challenge to the authority of the state.”

The award-winning journalist and world authority on the IRA has also written to senator Robert Menendez, the chairman of the US Senate’s foreign relations committee, and Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin about the alleged spying operation on Irish soil.

The Sunday World newspaper last month reported that Twomey had written to the embassy and the US consulate in Belfast seeking political asylum for herself, her children and her husband. She has denied reports that her family are seeking asylum and that she ever worked on the Boston College project.

Twomey told the Guardian she had made no contacts with the paper and would be prepared to bring forward a large number of friends and acquaintances who would sign legal documents stating they had no knowledge of her communications with the US embassy in Dublin, let alone spoke to any newspaper about them.

There is no suggestion whatsoever that the Sunday World itself carried out any illegal hacking or act of interception regarding Carrie Twomey’s communications with US diplomatic staff in Ireland.

Her husband Anthony recorded and collated the testimonies of dozens of former IRA activists, some of whom have claimed on tape that Adams ordered the death and secret disappearance of Jean McConville in 1972. The Sinn Féin president has always denied any involvement in the kidnapping, killing and covert burial of the widow, whom the IRA accused of being an informer for the British army. Among those who accused Adams of playing a central role in the McConville murder scandal was the late Brendan Hughes, the former Belfast IRA commander whose taped testimony has been made public.

Since Adams’s arrest in connection with the McConville murder, McIntyre and Moloney have faced sustained verbal attacks. Sinn Féin councillors and their supporters have labelled them “Boston College touts” – a euphemism for informers.

Adams tries to gag Independent

Adams tries to gag Independent
Fionnan Sheehan
Sunday Independent
Published 18 May 2014

THE characteristic of any cult is the unquestioning faith its members have in the leader. The cult leader will condition his followers with emotional manipulation to make them trust his dictates and believe his every utterance. There’s no room for any doubts to be explored and any challenge to the leader’s omnipotence is automatically dismissed.

The unstinting loyalty of Sinn Fein supporters to Gerry Adams and his versions of his own past shows again why the party is so often compared to a sect. Half the country believes Adams is lying when he says he had no role in the murder of Jean McConville.

Less than a quarter of people believe that he wasn’t involved.

But belief in Adams’ innocence is highest among followers of the Sinn Fein cult. Sinn Fein’s new generation of representatives and candidates, who either had no role in the IRA or weren’t even born at the time, have no compunction in stating their belief in Adams.

But murder, abduction, torture and orchestrating a terrorist campaign don’t seem to bother voters who want to express their anger about water charges, property tax and disillusionment with the political establishment.

Adams is so sensitive on the issue that he even sent a legal letter seeking to prevent the publication of the findings of the question in the Millward Brown opinion poll.

The attempt to put a gagging order on highlighting his links to the heinous case failed. He also issued a legal letter attempting to silence our reporting on another investigation relating to the prosecution of his brother, Liam Adams, who is a convicted child rapist.

The over-reaction is hardly surprising as the Sinn Fein president’s entire edifice is based on a barefaced lie: that he was never a member of the IRA.

Any sane individual knows Adams was a member of the IRA as head of a republican ‘movement’ through the Troubles.

But the Sinn Fein cult clamps down on any former members who leave and seek to shed light on the activities of the ‘movement’.

Witness the intimidation of the organisers of the Boston College project, which provided the most tangible evidence to date linking Adams to the McConville murder and resulted in his questioning.

One of the organisers, Dr Anthony McIntyre, a former Provisional IRA member himself, lives with his family in Co Louth.

Last week he met with Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin as he fears for his and others’ safety and told Mr Martin he had been visited by gardai who have confirmed a threat.

McIntyre told Martin that he believes the campaign is being orchestrated by the Sinn Fein leadership and believes the vilification is part of a wider strategy to shut down criticism of Adams from within the ‘movement’. The cult is seeking to silence dissent.

Sinn Fein hails whistle-blowers, just as long as they’re not blowing the whistle about Adams’ murky past.

‘Boston College Touts’ Threat Discussed in Dáil Éireann

‘Boston College Touts’ Threat Discussed in Dáil Éireann
Dáil Debate 13 May 2014
Ceisteanna – Questions (Resumed)

Full debate begins here: Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements

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Excerpts relating to Boston College oral history archive participants under threat:

Deputy Micheál Martin: In terms of the questions on the Ballymurphy murders, there is no doubt that innocent people were murdered by British soldiers in Ballymurphy in August of 1971. Forty-three years later, the official account has not been corrected and the families have been denied the right of being told exactly how these murders happened. The British Government, as the Taoiseach said, through the Northern Secretary, recently asserted that there should be no review of the murders because of what she called “the balance of public interest”. This goes to the nub of the ongoing detachment and mishandling of the peace process and reconciliation generally. It speaks of a policy that suggests that everything has been achieved, all the big things have been achieved and we do not need to deal with these issues. I met the Ballymurphy group some years ago and it seemed to me that, at the very least, an independent panel of investigators, with some international dimension attached to it, should have been established to report on the murders, such is the appalling nature of what happened.

It needs more than just the Taoiseach articulating here that it is very disappointing that the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland said this. Was there any consultation between the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Ms Theresa Villiers, MP, prior to the decision not to set up a panel to investigate those murders?

While I strongly support the need for this, it equally has to be said that the family of Jean McConville is also entitled to justice and truth in respect of her murder a year later. Both cases show that different sides are trying to be selective in their approach to the past. The British Government will pursue one case but will say there is no need to deal with the murder of 11 people in 1971 because of some obscure balance of public interest reasons. Likewise, I do not believe one can deny the family of a mother of ten who was murdered in 1972 the right to truth, justice and information, and yet Sinn Féin would probably want that denied.

The breakdown of the Haass talks is related and the decision to take a hands-off approach to that up to now has failed. I see from recent comments that that has been accepted and that there is a need for intervention. What steps does the Taoiseach intend to take regarding the Ballymurphy question? How does he intend to get the British Government to change its mind on pursuing the establishment of an independent panel to investigate the murders?

Regarding the Boston College tapes of interviews relating to the McConville case, a disturbing trend is emerging whereby those with anything to do with the Boston College project are being labelled as touts, and as greedy and reckless. A hate campaign is being developed by foot soldiers within the Sinn Féin movement, as far as I can ascertain, to target people. Regardless of whether one likes it, I believe the people involved in the Boston College project saw it as an historical project. They did not envisage the British prosecuting authorities seeking release of the tapes, Boston College being acquiescent, to say the very least, in opposing that until it was forced into a position where now certain tapes relating to the prosecution of that case have been released.

Now a hate campaign has developed where those responsible for conceiving the project and doing the interviews are being targeted in language that is very dangerous. The Taoiseach might have seen recent articles in which Mr. Ivor Bell is called the “Boston tout”. People are under pressure to ‘come clean’ about the contents of the controversial Boston tapes. It is very sinister and almost sets people up for attack. It makes people very insecure and anxious. There should be no toleration of it. It is extremely important that it is nipped in the bud and that all responsible people would deal with that. I ask for the Taoiseach’s comments on the implications of that. […]

The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny: […] As I understand this, the number of people who have been questioned about this is six or seven – Deputy Adams will know that – and that one of those is being charged with conspiracy by association. Whether that moves through to the PPS to a further stage is something that I cannot predict. I think everybody in this country is haunted by the picture of Jean McConville and a number of her children – that black and white photograph – which has appeared thousands of times over the years. I know from meeting people who have lost loved ones at sea or whatever, through a tragedy or just an accident, that a sense of closure, not being able to say where they are and who was responsible and that justice be seen to be done is very powerful.

I agree with a comment made by Deputy Martin in regard to the Boston College tapes that there seems to be a sort of campaign that these are not valid, authentic or real contributions. Somebody who knows something about this said to me that some of the contributors were either dependant on alcohol or requiring of substance use all the time. I suppose the old saying in vino veritas is still valid. These are part of, and a background to, the problem we have with the past and the legacy of what that means. I share Uachtaráin Higgins’s response, when commenting on this, I think, in Chicago, that nobody should be above law and that we cannot have one law for one and a different one for somebody else.

If the gardaí did not have the intelligence and communications they have available to them and the sharing of knowledge with the PSNI, this incident at Finnstown House recently could have been very serious, with the possibility of international repercussions for Ireland of the most serious kind, and the loss of life.

The issues arising over the last period in regard to the question of the past, parades and so on goes back to a comment made by the Tánaiste that there is a short opportunity after the electoral process is finished here and before the marching season gets into full swing in which we should perhaps refocus on what it is we may be able to do here. When I look at what is happening in Derry and I see the excitement, the expansion of the economy, the jobs being created and the view of the future where people really want to get on with the business of providing for their children, opportunities and so on, I see a difference between that and what is happening in places in Belfast. That is regrettable. I saw the television pictures, and Deputy Adams was involved. Perhaps there is an opportunity here to refocus, as two Governments, to help the Northern Ireland Executive and the parties in Northern Ireland. President Clinton said that we have to finish the job, it cannot be finished for them, it has got to come from inside and we have to give them all the encouragement we can. […]

Deputy Gerry Adams: […] I return to the issue of victims. I will conclude on this matter. Irish Republicans have acknowledged many times the hurt caused during the war. I would welcome if Teachta Martin said “This is Sinn Féin” but he uses sleveen, sleekit, weasel words such as “It appears to be Sinn Féin”, “As far as I can see”, “It appears to me”, and “As far as I have been able to ascertain”. Let me be very clear about this; all the victims deserve justice – every single one, particularly the victims of the Irish Republican Army. I say that as a republican because I cannot rail against injustices inflicted by the British or others if I do not take the same consistent position in terms of those who were bereaved by people whose legitimacy I recognised. Both the Taoiseach and the leader of Fianna Fáil recognised the legitimacy of the IRA cause, but in another decade. Somewhere along the line they became revisionist on the issue. I wish to be very clear that, first, it is the right thing to do morally; second, it is the right thing to do for the peace process and; third, I understand because I am from that community. That is where I come from. […]

Deputy Micheál Martin: […] I wish to make straight remarks and not weasel words. One of the questions I put to the Taoiseach was that the past is a key issue, but what is going on right now with regard to the past is, in my view, reprehensible. A hate campaign has developed against those involved in the Boston exercise. Those involved, those who did the taping and contributed to the tapes, genuinely believed they would not be released until after the participants were dead. Sinn Féin has an issue with this as do others but it is unacceptable that on the front page of the Sunday World one reads that ‘Boston tout’ Ivor Bell is under pressure to ‘come clean’ on the contents of the controversial Boston tapes.

There is graffiti now on the walls in the North about the touts, the informers and the greed. The salaries of those who actually did the interviews is out as though it represents some astronomical amount of money and that it was all for greed. Comparisons are being made between those who were involved in the project and those who cracked under pressure in Castlereagh and became informers and who were dealt with by the then IRA.

One gets good cop and bad cop all the time. On the one hand, one gets the nice presentation but on the other hand, this is going on right now. I have been contacted about this and people are worried about their lives. People are worried about the security aspect to it. It should be condemned and Sinn Féin should make sure that anyone associated with the party who is involved in this regard should stop and cease, no matter how uncomfortable or inconvenient it is. While the leader of Sinn Féin will accuse others of revisionism, I put it to the Taoiseach that it is absurd revisionism to suggest that any just war was going on over those 30-odd years from 1974. Many ex-combatants would say there was no justification, in retrospect, for anything that went on after Sunningdale. There was no great war, there was a war and terror and people were killed who did not need to be for far too long. It went on for years and years and now we all are being cosied to accept language around conflicts, war, sides and all that. Too many appalling atrocities were carried out that cannot be justified in any shape or form.

Moreover, I make the point to the Taoiseach that the peace process belongs to the Irish people, not to the Taoiseach, to me or indeed to the Sinn Féin Party. Yet, when someone gets arrested who the Sinn Féin Party does not like getting arrested, its members will organise protests outside the police station as they did in the case of the prominent arrest of one of its members with regard to the McCartney murder, when 300 people turned up outside a police station and when a member of the policing board, namely, Gerry Kelly, said this was an outrage. When they want to threaten the peace process, they will do it. The same happened in recent weeks, because Sinn Féin did not like a particular arrest. The peace process now was under threat and policing support was under threat. One cannot have it both ways; one either supports it or one does not. One cannot just switch up, switch off or switch down the temperature when it suits and the temperature was switched up deliberately two weeks ago. No one should be under any doubt or illusion about that. The mask slipped for a few days but it did so deliberately. The word to the authorities was were they to keep going, they would not have a peace process. Were they to keep going, they would not have support for policing in Northern Ireland. […]

Deputy Gerry Adams: Briefly, and I wish to come back to the Taoiseach’s remarks, no one involved with Sinn Féin is engaged in the graffiti, the wall daubing or the perceived or real threats against anyone. This is extremely clear and I condemn these threats and everyone has stated more times than enough that people must be able to go about their business without any fear of any threat whatsoever. Moreover, for the information of Teachta Martin, the Haass proposals include the right of families to seek legal redress if they wish and Sinn Féin supports that concept. One must understand here that there are multiple narratives. In the same way as there are the Fine Gael, Labour Party and Fianna Fáil narratives, in more recent times there are the Sinn Féin and the republican narratives, as well as Unionist, British Army and IRA narratives. We would get some sense of our history were we willing to lay all those narratives side by side as opposed to undermining any of them. Moreover, for the record, no generation of the IRA had a mandate, not in 1916, not during the Tan war and not during the Civil War or since. However, every generation of the IRA had sufficient endorsement of enough people to continue, including in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s until thankfully, the war was brought to a close. […]

The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny: […] I must state that when I saw the people presenting and preparing the mural of Deputy Adams in Belfast, as is their right, comments were made there by some people to the effect that “We have not gone away“. Who are the “we” and to whom they were referring when they said “We have not gone away”? These clearly are supporters of Sinn Féin and I am unsure what interpretation to put on this. I hope we can move this forward. Certainly, I assure the Deputy that from the point of view of the Government, there certainly is no lack of interest in this regard. Both Governments will be happy to co-operate with, work with and encourage the parties if they can see there is an opportunity to move forward any of these issues to a point where a better outcome can be achieved.

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.”

‘Boston tape’ claims should give us pause

‘Boston tape’ claims should give us pause
THESE tapes just keep on coming. First, there were the ‘Lowry tapes’, then the ‘Anglo tapes’, and now the ‘Boston tapes’ are hitting the headlines.
By Michael Clifford
Irish Examiner
Saturday, July 13, 2013

Whatever about the alleged crimes and misdemeanours ‘exposed’ in the ‘Lowry and Anglo tapes’, the Boston recordings mine a much deeper seam.

Some people believe that the tapes contain information that may help to solve the murder of Jean McConville, a mother of 10 who was killed by the IRA in 1972.

The emergence of these tapes, at this time, throws up serious questions.

Can such recordings assist in finding out who was responsible for one of the most barbaric killings of the Troubles?

Or, is it all a sham, being used more for political purposes than for a criminal investigation?

The tapes were made a number of years ago, when Boston College began compiling an oral history of the Troubles. Under the title ‘Belfast Project’, the college accessed interviews with a number of people who had been engaged in violence on both sides of the divide.

Highly regarded journalist, Ed Maloney, conducted the interviews, in conjunction with researcher, Anthony McIntrye, who had served time for his role in violent republican activities.

All of the participants gave the interviews on the strict basis that they wouldn’t be used until after their deaths.

Thus, they felt free to speak, in the knowledge that there would be no repercussions.

An oral project of this kind is greatly valued through the long eye of history. It can fill gaps, flesh out narratives of what happened, in particular violent incidents, and gather details of how public events were manipulated or handled within paramilitary organisations.

It also provides an insight into the minds and actions of those who felt compelled to cross a threshold into the dark place where killing other human beings was regarded as acceptable.

The value of these recordings is heightened by the failure to establish a ‘truth and reconciliation’ commission in the North.

At least two of the interviewees, David Irvine, once of the UVF, and Brendan Hughes, formerly a senior IRA operative, have since died. A TV programme based on their interviews was broadcast a few years ago.

Another interviewee who has died is Dolours Price. She died last January, after bouts of mental ill-health, which may have been connected with her time in prison in the 1970s, when she and her sister, Marian, were convicted for bombings in London.

Price was disillusioned with Sinn Féin’s role in the peace process. She and her sister were particularly critical of Gerry Adams.

Marian Price, who had been free on licence, was returned to prison in 2011 over dissident activity. She was released again last May.

Meanwhile, Dolours Price let it be known that her interview for Boston College contained details of how she had been involved in the death of Jean McConville, a killing she said was sanctioned by Adams, whom, she said, was the officer commanding the IRA in Belfast in 1972.

The killing-disappearance of McConville is one of the more barbaric actions of the IRA.

McConville was a mother of 10 young children, and suspected of passing low-grade information to the authorities. She was allegedly taken from her home, driven to Co Louth, murdered, and buried in a secret grave. Her body was not found until 2003.

On discovery of her body, the PSNI launched a murder investigation.

That led to officers requesting the Price interviews, and other recordings.

A major legal tussle ensued, which went all the way to the US Supreme Court. The court decided that the PSNI should have access to the interviews, and, last week, two officers travelled to the US to take possession of the tapes.

But to what end?

In the first instance, it is not at all clear that any allegations are made about Adams, or anybody else, in relation to the killing of McConville.

Dolours Price suffered from mental-health issues, which would render anything she said on the tape as suspect. Her state of mind, for a number of years prior to her death, was reportedly such that she would never have been well enough to give evidence in a trial, if it ever came to that.

Now that she is dead, it’s difficult to see how anything she may have said on tape could have any value.

The recordings would require the interviewers, Maloney and McIntyre, to give evidence of authenticity in a criminal trial and both have intimated they would do nothing of the sort.

So what’s going on? Is the PSNI on a fishing expedition? Is the exercise merely an opportunity to stick it to Adams and Sinn Féin?

One repercussion is that the compilation of oral histories has been dealt a major blow. Interviewing people for such projects, on an understanding that what is said remains secret until after the subject’s death, is a valuable element of recording history. Any potential subject, who may have been willing to partake in such an exercise, will surely be dissuaded by the ‘Boston tapes’ saga.

In the US, senator Robert Menendez, who chairs the senate foreign-relations committee, has written to secretary of state, John Kerry, expressing concern that the release of the tapes could “still have the effect of threatening the precious peace won by the Good Friday Agreement”. Irish-American journalist and publisher, Niall O’Dowd, has expressed similar fears.

O’Dowd wrote in his Irish Voice newspaper, this week, that “the British securocrats’ agenda is to seek to dismantle the peace process by undermining support in the nationalist community by such actions.”

You don’t have to go along with that conspiracy theory, but there is definitely a case for concern.

Meanwhile, in the Republic, the body politic sees the issue not as one of concern, but opportunity.

Last Tuesday, at leader’s questions in the Dail, Michael Martin mentioned Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s recent visit to Boston, and Martin also discussed the tapes.

Martin urged Adams to make a statement on the murder of McConville. Then, Kenny got in on the act, challenging Adams to state, on the Dáil record, that he was not associated with the crime. Once more, Adams denied any involvement.

Instead of examining any issues around the release of the tapes, the two party leaders saw the subject as great fodder for a routine cut at Adams about his past.

While we all get tired of Adams’ hollow denials about IRA involvement, using a serious issue like this as nothing more than a stick with which to beat the Sinn Féin man speaks volumes about the priorities of the two party leaders. As long as it brings discomfort to Adams, then it’s a good thing, seems to be the attitude of Kenny and Martin.

At that rate, we’ll be waiting a long time before an Irish government gets around to making proper inquiries as to what exactly is going on with the ‘Boston tapes’, and whether it merits any concern for the peace process.

Dáil Questions: Data Protection & the Boston College Case; HET jurisdiction

9 July 2013
Dáil Éireann Debate: Written Answers

Data Protection

Addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr. Shatter) by Deputy Clare Daly for WRITTEN on Tuesday, 9th July, 2013.

416. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to any instances in which the American National Security Agency and-or the British use of National Security Agency records has compromised any Irish citizens and-or their lawyers; if he will raise the issuance of the second subpoena of the Boston College oral history archives, as a result of electronic eavesdropping on Irish citizens and their lawyers, with his counterparts in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): As I have indicated to the House previously I, of course, fully understand the concerns which have arisen in the wake of recent media reports about the PRISM programme. These concerns mainly centre on data privacy rights not being adequately respected. I raised these concerns with the US Attorney General Eric Holder at my recent meetings with him in Dublin. At these meetings, the US Attorney General provided clarity on a number of issues, in particular with regard to the nature of the information collected and processed, i.e. phone numbers, duration of calls etc – but not the content of calls. He also advised that the data was collected under judicial authority and only where there was a reasonable suspicion of serious crime, such as terrorism or cybersecurity/cybercrime.

We cannot ignore the very important fact that there is a recognised need to protect our citizens from terrorist threats and dealing with that does require access to certain data. In doing so, however, it is necessary to ensure that the information used is properly obtained and subject to appropriate safeguards. The importance of protecting individual rights to privacy and ensuring respect for individual human rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights was emphasised to the US side, as was the crucial need to ensure that any security surveillance undertaken is balanced and proportionate. The US authorities have indicated that their practices are proportionate to the threat they are trying to deal with.

In this country we have data protection legislation to protect individuals against unwarranted invasion into their privacy. Access to telephone call content is governed by the Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications Messages (Regulation) Act 1993 and may only take place under Ministerial warrant. Access to retained telecommunications data in this jurisdiction is governed by the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011. Under the Act access may only be granted following a request to the particular mobile phone company or internet provider in connection with the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of a serious offence, the safeguarding of the security of the State or the saving of human life.

The operation of both Acts this is subject to judicial oversight and there is also a complaints procedure which individuals can avail of if there is a concern that the Acts have been breached in relation to their calls or their data. There are also procedures in place under Mutual Assistance legislation to cover requests to and from other countries for this type of information. I am not aware of any instances of the kind referred to by the Deputy. My Department has no function in relation to the Boston College oral history archive.

Boston College Case

Addressed to the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mr. Gilmore) by Deputy Clare Daly for WRITTEN on Tuesday, 9th July, 2013.

133. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will, on the back of the revelations of the extensive spying by the American National Security Agency, which has also been revealed to be used by the British GCHQ, raise the issue of the second Boston College subpoena with his counterparts in the United States and United Kingdom; if his attention has been drawn to any instances, including any relating to the Boston College subpoena case, where Irish citizens and/or their legal representatives have been compromised.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): The allegations of surveillance of EU premises, if true, are of concern to all EU Member States, including Ireland. The EU’s External Action Service has sought clarification of the situation in both Washington and Brussels. High Representative Ashton has also spoken directly about this matter to Secretary of State Kerry and at a press conference, President Obama emphasised the importance of the US relationship with Europe and gave a firm undertaking to examine these allegations and to provide “all the information that our allies want”. I welcome this clear statement and undertaking.

While Ireland is not one of the Member States identified in the media reports to date, the Government has already expressed its concerns to the US Embassy in Dublin at a senior official level and looks forward to clarification being provided in response to the EU’s request. Any further steps will be considered in light of the clarification received. Data protection issues are the primary responsibility of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, and he has previously told the House of his discussions with the US Attorney General Eric Holder during the EU-US Ministerial meeting and in a bilateral meeting on the issue. It was agreed to set up a working group between the EU side and the US security services to continue dialogue in relation to this matter.

10 July
Dáil Éireann Debate: Written Answers

Northern Ireland Issues

Addressed to the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mr. Gilmore) by Deputy Clare Daly for WRITTEN on Wednesday, 10th July, 2013; Transferred (from) Justice and Equality

596. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if in view of recent revelations by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary that the Northern Ireland Historical Enquiries Team failed properly to investigate crimes committed by the British military, and in view of the fact that the HET and PSNI have relentlessly pursued confidential tapes held at Boston College to the exclusion of any other line of enquiry regarding offences committed in this State, he is prepared to assert jurisdiction over this matter.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): It is vitally important for the future of Northern Ireland that a stable and lasting peace be firmly established. As stated in the Good Friday Agreement, the tragedies of the past have left a deep and profoundly regrettable legacy of suffering. We must never forget those who have died or been injured, and their families.

In the context of the “Together: Building a United Community” initiative by the Northern Ireland Executive, the Northern Ireland Assembly will shortly establish an All Party Working Group under an Independent Chair to consider and make recommendations on issues that cause community divisions, including Dealing with the Past.

The HET has an important role to play in ensuring that the families of all of the victims of violence in the past can pursue the truth of what happened to their loved ones, and it plays a significant part in the pursuit of justice. I am aware of the comprehensive Inspection Report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary into the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team. I believe it is essential that the HET operate to the highest standards of effectiveness and impartiality, so that the people of Northern Ireland – and in particular, the families of the victims whose cases are being reviewed – can have confidence in it. Consequently I welcome Chief Constable Baggott’s acceptance of the Inspection Report’s Recommendations and his commitment to work with the Policing Board on ensuring their delivery.

I am glad to inform the Deputy that there is close and ongoing co-operation between the Garda Síochána and the PSNI on all aspects of policing. The two police forces have in place a joint Cross Border Policing Strategy which has as its aims to improve public safety throughout Ireland, to disrupt criminal activity and to enhance the policing capability of both police services on the island. The Garda Commissioner and the Chief Constable of the PSNI who have responsibility for operational policing co-operation have repeatedly emphasised that the close and high quality co-operation between their forces has been instrumental in preventing attacks, combating criminality and saving lives.

Adams again insists he had no involvement in killing of Jean McConville

Adams again insists he had no involvement in killing of Jean McConville
Sinn Féin leader challenged by Kenny and Martin in Dáil
Irish Times
Wed, Jul 10, 2013

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has again insisted he had no involvement in the 1972 killing of Jean McConville, the Catholic mother-of-10 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,’’ he said.

The US appeals court has ruled that only interviews dealing directly with her murder could be turned over by Boston College to the PSNI.

The Sinn Féin leader was responding in the Dáil to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Taoiseach Enda Kenny, as Mr Kenny answered questions about his recent visit to Boston.

‘Voices from the Grave’

Mr Martin said it was a great pity there had not been a resolution to Ms McConville’s killing. The book, Voices from the Grave, had outlined that Brendan Hughes, a key member of the Belfast brigade of the IRA at the time, had pulled no punches in his claims about who ordered the killing. Mr Hughes had made clear his views on the claims by the Sinn Féin leader of having had no involvement in the IRA.

Mr Martin said Mr Adams should make a statement on the matter, adding that if the same allegations were made against any other member of the House there would be clarion calls for him or her to confirm the veracity or otherwise of blunt allegations.

‘Sordid tale’

“It is a very sordid tale and I am surprised the Taoiseach did not have any discussion on the matter during his trip to the United States, ” Mr Martin said.

Mr Kenny said there was no disagreement between Mr Martin and himself on the issues. It was a short visit with a tight schedule.

He added that he had read Voices from the Grave and the section concerning Ms McConville was stark and strong. “When Deputy Adams comments, he may well make the statement that he has made to me before.’’

Mr Adams said his denial of any involvement in Ms McConville’s killing was not the end of the matter, because Fianna Fáil and its current leader were fighting a battle for survival and that was their only concern in raising issues.

He added that Mr Martin had said to the Taoiseach last week that Mr Kenny had chosen to exploit the past and not to learn from it. “And he should practice what he preaches.’’

Adams denies involvement in McConville murder

Adams denies involvement in McConville murder
By Shaun Connolly, Political Correspondent
Irish Examiner
Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams denied involvement in the murder of Belfast woman Jean McConville in 1972 as the controversy erupted in the Dáil again.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin raised the matter in relation to a book looking at the murder which he called a “must-read”.

In reference to the row over the Boston College tapes, Mr Martin called on Mr Adams to make a statement on the matter after a book, Voices from the Grave, claimed that Mr Adams was involved in the disappearance.

If similar allegations had been made about other members of the Dáil there would have been loud demands for a statement, Mr Martin told TDs as he insisted nobody believed Mr Adams’s claim that he had never been in the IRA.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny urged Mr Adams to address the matter, stating that the section of the book dealing with the murder was “very stark”, adding that he was meeting families of the Disappeared after the Dáil session.

Mr Adams refused to make a formal statement on the matter, insisting he had already addressed the issue and denied any involvement in the disappearance and murder of Ms McConville.

Mr Adams said the IRA had apologised, and that people making allegations about him were “implacable opponents of the peace process” who believed the conflict should have continued.

Mr Adams accused Mr Martin of trying to score party political points with “weasel words”.

TRANSCRIPT: Dáil Debate on Boston College tapes, Gerry Adams & Jean McConville

Dáil Debates Tuesday, 9 July 2013
Ceisteanna – Questions
Official Engagements

Excerpts relating to Boston College archives:

3. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he discussed the issue of the Boston College Belfast oral history project papers when he was at the college recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 10, inclusive, together.

I visited Boston from 18 to 20 May following an invitation from Fr. William Leahy, president of Boston College, to receive an honorary degree in law and deliver the commencement address at the 2013 graduation ceremony. This was a very prestigious honour, particularly as Boston College is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Much of its history and development as an institution of higher education have been shaped by ties to Ireland. I was pleased to accept the honorary degree and deliver the commencement address on behalf of all the people of Ireland on Monday, 20 May. I also addressed the annual commencement eve dinner at the college on Sunday, 19 May, with a number of other guests who were also receiving honorary degrees.

In addition, I was invited as guest of honour to a dinner on Saturday, 18 May at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library to mark the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s visit to Ireland in 1963. The JFK Presidential Library and Museum is the national official memorial to the late President. The dinner was hosted by the library foundation and also attended by Senator and Mrs. Paul Kirk.

During my visit to Boston I also visited the memorial site of the Boston marathon bombings at Copley Square, with Commissioner of Police Edward Davis, where I placed a floral tribute as a gesture of respect to the dead and injured. I took the opportunity during my various speaking engagements in Boston to praise the courage, dignity and strength shown by Bostonians following the bombings.

On the Monday morning I addressed a business breakfast organised by IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland and attended by senior executives from a range of companies with business interests in Ireland and the United States. I highlighted the strengths of Ireland as a location in which to do business and for companies looking to internationalise or expand their existing geographical footprint. My tight schedule did not allow for bilateral meetings with any of the companies present at the business breakfast.

This was a relatively short visit and there were no bilateral political meetings scheduled in my programme. I did not have any meeting regarding Ireland’s corporation tax rate, nor did my programme include specific meetings with representatives of the undocumented Irish groups. However, as I previously reported to the House, I had a number of meetings on the issue of immigration reform during my March visit to Washington. […]

I did not have any detailed discussion regarding the Boston College history papers during the visit. As the House is aware, this matter may be the subject of further legal proceedings and, as such, it would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment.

Deputy Micheál Martin: I thank the Taoiseach for his reply. He indicated that he had very little time for bilateral meetings during his recent visit to Boston. […]

The Belfast oral history project papers relate to a very sensitive and important issue. For the researchers and designers of the project – Anthony McIntyre, a former member of the IRA, and the journalist Ed Moloney – it was an endeavour to get to the truth of the various operations and the murder and mayhem which took place over a long period. Arising from that Belfast project is a very fine publication by Mr. Moloney, Voices From the Grave, a book which every Member of this House should read. It sets out in great detail the appalling atrocities committed by the IRA and loyalist gangs and exposes many truths about the situation in Northern Ireland during that period.

There have been moves by the PSNI and the British authorities to seek the recovery of some of these recordings to help them in pursuing their investigation into the abduction and murder of Jean McConville. It is a great pity that we are nowhere near a resolution of that crime such a long time after the event. Mrs. McConville was a widow struggling to bring up ten children when she was abducted and murdered, a crime to which the IRA admitted in a statement. As Mr. Moloney’s book outlines, 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. There have been various calls for people to assist in the discovery of the truth in this matter. Mr. Hughes has gone to his reward, but he made clear his views on the claims by the leader of Sinn Féin of having had no involvement in the IRA and so on. Mr. Moloney’s book is quite explicit in terms of the quotations by Mr. Hughes taken from the tapes. Some of the recordings have been secured by the PSNI, but others have not.

It is a difficult and sensitive situation in that the individuals who recorded the interviews with former combatants were allowed to do so on the understanding the recordings would be protected until after the deaths of the individuals concerned. However, the fate of the disappeared is one of the unresolved issues of the peace process, particularly the murder of Jean McConville. Those who have any information on these matters should make a statement to the police. Moreover, I would invite the leader of Sinn Féin to make a statement to the House on this matter, given the gravity of what occurred and the gravity and scale of the allegations set out in a publication which has been in circulation for some time. If the same allegations were made against any other Member of this House, there would be clarion calls for him or her to confirm to the House and the public the veracity or otherwise of those rather blunt allegations.

It is a very sordid tale and I am surprised that the Taoiseach did not have any discussion on the matter during his trip to the United States. I have met one of the authors of the project and, without casting aspersions on anybody in this House, it is fair to say he has genuine fears for his life as a consequence of the release of the tapes. At the same time, it is my view that nobody should stand in the way of the PSNI in endeavouring to pursue its investigation into these matters to the fullest extent possible. The former Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Mrs. Nuala O’Loan, made it very clear, having carried out her own investigation into the matter, that there was no evidence to sustain the allegation that Jean McConville had been an informant.

Deputy Adams owes it to the House to make a comment on it.

An Ceann Comhairle: We are talking about Boston.

Deputy Micheál Martin: I wrote to Senator Hillary Clinton about this and I am 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 Tánaiste met with the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, recently. Perhaps the Taoiseach can outline whether the Government, through the Minister for Justice and Equality or the Tánaiste, has had any dealings with the American authorities.

An Ceann Comhairle: We are talking about Boston at the moment.

Deputy Micheál Martin: I am asking about Question No. 3, which is to do with the oral history project.

The Taoiseach: There is no disagreement between Deputy Martin and myself in respect of these issues. It was a very short visit and the tightness of the schedule meant we could not have formal bilateral meetings. […]

I read Voices from the Grave. I have had words with Deputy Adams before about the late Jean McConville. After Question Time and the Order of Business, I will meet with representatives of the disappeared. We both know the feeling of an end not having been brought about when someone has died or disappeared. It is very important for the families, irrespective of where they come from, that a sense of closure be obtained. I have learned this, particularly from the families of people who were lost at sea. There is a feeling that something is missing, literally, when the remains are never recovered.

The section in the book concerning Jean McConville is stark and strong. I do not know the answer. When Deputy Gerry Adams comments, he may well make the statement that he has made to me before. This is about information contained in a number of tapes that have been sent on to the PSNI. I do not know what they contain but they arise from the oral history project at Boston College. When we talk about bringing closure and healing to the communities in Northern Ireland, this element of the disappeared is a central feature. I read the evidence from Nuala O’Loan on the fact that there was nothing to prove the late Jean McConville was an informant. I also read the Hughes allegations about the decision to have her killed and about what was to be done with the body. I do not know the truth of it; nor does Deputy Martin. Mr. Hughes makes comments about Deputy Gerry Adams, whom I cannot speak for in that regard.

I did not have any opportunity on that short occasion to have detailed discussions about the oral history project with the people in Boston College. It was the subject of court cases and I understand some of the tapes have been handed over to the PSNI.


Deputy Gerry Adams: […] I am uncertain as to whether I should ignore the leader of Fianna Fáil in his charges. Sometimes, it is impossible to know what the right thing to do is when someone comes in with a book, parades it in the Chamber, makes accusations and engages in weasel words. Should I sit on my dignity and let this pass or get up and speak to the issue? I was very taken last week talking about other tapes – the Anglo Irish Bank tapes – to note mentally that the leader of Fianna Fáil spoke to the Taoiseach and said “You choose to exploit the past, not to learn from it”. I said “Micheál, I hope you remember that”. The Boston tapes is a matter that is in the hands of the PSNI and it will do with that what it wants. I have been very restrained in my comments about all of that and will continue to be. I have consistently rejected claims, however, by those who accuse me of having any knowledge of or part in the disappearance and killing of Jean McConville.

The issue of those who were detained, abducted, shot and buried by the IRA is a terrible legacy of the conflict. We know it is not unique to this phase of the conflict. It has happened at other times. There are still issues going back to the Civil War and the Tan war, which have to be resolved. At least, this generation of republicans, among whom I count myself, is trying to undo the wrong that was done. Clearly, those who were killed cannot be brought back to life, but I do think that a grievous wrong was done. For its part, the IRA, which is now on ceasefire, has left the stage and is not around, apologised for what it did. I have been very much part of the effort to retrieve these remains since I was approached by some of the families. Some of the families are republican families. Some of them are friends of mine. Some of them are neighbours of mine. Fr. Alec Reid, others and I have worked very hard, which the leader of Fianna Fáil must know. The commission was established under a Government of which he was a part. The different suggestions that were put and the co-operation the IRA, including what were referred to as “primary sources”, gave to the commission are matters of public record. The man who is in charge of the special forensic investigating team, which was put in place on suggestion from us, has acknowledged all of this. He said in 2009 that those who were working with him were working in a spirit of co-operation and reconciliation to help in every way they could. He said he was absolutely convinced that they were doing everything they could to assist.

Now, we come to how this is used to score political points. I am also meeting the families this evening. I made the point earlier that some of them are friends of mine and many are my neighbours. Those who make the accusation against me, apart from those in the Dáil, are implacable opponents of the peace process.

They say there should not be a peace process and the war should have continued, and they attack me as a means of undermining that. Some of them are past, some of them are still active and some of them are still out there. At least, they have their convictions. They are not doing it for electoral gain. They are not doing it for political point scoring. They are not doing it as a Fianna Fáil leader trying to reclaim the republican mantle which was so despoiled by successive Fianna Fáil leaderships which let the people down in a most deplorable and anti-republican way.

It is also my view that those who brought together this Belfast project have a similar view. These two individuals who misled are not supporters of the peace process. They have since acknowledged that they could not and should not have given the commitments which they gave that these would not be revealed until these individuals were dead.

I am trying not to fall into the trap here of trading points on other people’s wounds with the leader of Fianna Fáil. I have a deep investment in what is happening in the North. I will continue to have a deep investment. I do not shy away, I do not hide, I do not disassociate myself but I like to think that I am also defined, as are those who work with me, by what we have still to do.

I would appeal, once again, because I believe – I cited the person in charge of the forensic team’s statement that republicans are co-operating actively – the remains of nine of these persons have been recovered and are in graves that their families can visit. Seven have still to be found. Not all of those seven were killed by the IRA, but seven have still to be found and we all need to do our best to play a positive role in this. I appeal, once again, to anyone with any information whatsoever, no matter how small, tiny or insignificant he or she thinks it might be, to bring that forward to the commission, to the families, to the Garda or to the PSNI, or to me or anyone else he or she thinks can usefully bring this forward to help these families.

The Taoiseach: […] Of all of those who were shot, murdered or killed during the troubled period in Northern Ireland, the name of the late Mrs. Jean McConville stands out because of the notoriety of the case and because of her family circumstances. I accept Deputy Adams’s view that if there are persons out there with information of assistance in finding the remains of persons who were shot and taken away – and God knows what happened to them or was done to them that their bodies have not been recovered and been allowed to be repatriated to family graves – and there are such persons, they should come and give that to members of the authority or whoever.

As I stated, quite a long time ago I also read that book, but I saw a short piece of a television programme that Deputy Adams did on this some time ago where he was asked a direct question as to whether there was an involvement from him in this case or not, and he answered that question. Leaving the Boston tapes aside, this is a fairly serious book. I do not know the individuals, Mr. Brendan Hughes or Mr. Ed Moloney, who wrote it, but people would like to hear Deputy Adams confirm in the Dáil that what is written in that book is simply not true.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Did the Taoiseach not hear me a moment ago?

The Taoiseach: Yes, of course.

Deputy Gerry Adams: The Taoiseach should not play the same games as Deputy Martin plays.

The Taoiseach: I will give Deputy Adams the opportunity to reply. The people want to hear a voice of reconciliation looking forward to a future here where that closure can be brought in so far as that can happen. It is difficult after 30 years to go and pinpoint exact spots and that is why the commission, in conducting its investigations, has had to have carried out excavations in a range of areas as to where bodies are supposed to be dumped or laid to rest. The people would like Deputy Adams to say here that what Mr. Hughes and Mr. Moloney state in that book is simply not true and that from the Deputy’s personal responsibility in a different time and place, we can be clear on that. I accept Deputy Adams’s word on his interest in seeing closure brought to the matter of these bodies that have not been recovered. In the case of the late Mrs. McConville, he has an opportunity in the Dáil, our Parliament, to address an issue that has affected many people because of the extent of the coverage of this over the years. For one reason or another, those people have always associated Deputy Adams with elements of that and he has a chance here to put it on the record.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Did the Taoiseach not hear me a moment ago, and the last time he raised it as well?

The Taoiseach: I know that.

Deputy Gerry Adams: He will get the same answer all the time.

The Taoiseach: The leader of Fianna Fáil is raising it here with the book on his desk.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Both of them will play little games.

The Taoiseach: Deputy Adams can repeat it again.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: It is in the book.

Deputy Gerry Adams: I do not intend repeating it again. I have said it once. I do not have to repeat myself all the time.

The Taoiseach: We are discussing this matter here.

Deputy Gerry Adams: I said it a moment ago.

The Taoiseach: Let me now issue the challenge to Deputy Adams to say again on the record for all and sundry that he confirms that he had nothing at all to do with this and we will move on with the commission to see can we bring closure for remains of the disappeared that are not yet recovered.


Deputy Micheál Martin: […] I refer to the Boston College Belfast oral history project. I ask the Taoiseach to consider meeting with the authors of that project, Anthony McIntyre and Ed Moloney. I reject what Deputy Adams said. The Taoiseach can see for himself that their objective in recording these interviews was not to undermine the peace process in any way. I am not endeavouring to exploit the past; I am dealing with the present. The investigation into Jean McConville’s death is happening now; it is a live investigation, not an historical investigation. Hence the PSNI’s desire to secure these tapes which has caused difficulties for those involved in recording them in the first instance. When I showed this book to the House, the words I used when I said that this book is a “must read”, were exactly the words that Deputy Adams used some months ago here when he also paraded a book in the House and said it was a “must read” for every Deputy in the House. The book dealt with British undercover activities in Northern Ireland. He said it outlined in great detail the approaches of the British Government authorities and army and so on, to undercover activity. He felt it was quite appropriate to bring to our attention the importance—–

Deputy Gerry Adams: What is the name of the book?

Deputy Micheál Martin: It was written by a former British Army general—

Deputy Gerry Adams: I did not bring it in here.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Did Deputy Adams say it was a “must read”? I would say that this is also a “must read”. It is wrong to try to undermine the people who were responsible for writing this. They are not anti-peace process. In fact, Anthony McIntyre will say that if the IRA and all those who supported their war were honest, they would have said they should have packed up in 1974. From his perspective, everything since 1974 was a futile killing of life on all sides, that it was not worth the loss of one single life.

An Ceann Comhairle: We are not going back to the book, Deputy.

Deputy Micheál Martin: I do not accept the view that anyone who says anything against the leader of Sinn Féin or against the Sinn Féin Party is somehow to be demonised and just dismissed as being anti-peace process. We are asked please not to take any heed whatsoever of anything that has been said or written and take no heed of what is in the Belfast oral history project. We are to ignore all of that because it is just too negative for Sinn Féin.

What emanates from the project and the interview is really disbelief over the constant denial over leader of Sinn Féin that he had any involvement whatsoever in the IRA at the time.

An Ceann Comhairle: Perhaps the Deputy could table an appropriate parliamentary question.

Deputy Micheál Martin: That is what people find difficult to fathom.

An Ceann Comhairle: I am in a very awkward position here.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Deputy Adams is in a far better position than anybody in this House to make a comprehensive statement, not only on the McConville case but also generally. As Brendan Hughes asks in the book, who met Willie Whitelaw, and why?

An Ceann Comhairle: I ask the Deputy to put his questions to the Taoiseach.

Deputy Micheál Martin: It is to that hypocrisy that I am referring. Nobody outside Deputy Adams’s set believes he was never in the IRA; that is the bottom line and what people balk at.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: You never collaborated with the Brits either.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Sorry?

Deputy Dessie Ellis: You collaborated with the Brits.

Deputy Micheál Martin: No, I did not, actually.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Taoiseach is to reply to Deputy Martin.

Deputy Micheál Martin: To be blunt about it, you need to be careful about who you are accusing. There were too many people within your own fold who collaborated.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: You well know what I am talking about.

The Taoiseach: I cannot answer the question as to who met Willie Whitelaw.

An Ceann Comhairle: It is not one of the questions that was tabled to the Taoiseach today. I find myself in a very awkward position. In reply to Question No. 3, the Taoiseach said:

I did not have any detailed discussion regarding the Boston College history papers during the visit. As the House is aware, this matter may be the subject of further legal proceedings and, as such, it would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment.

Therefore, as Chairman of this House, I find it very awkward not to be seen to be stopping people from raising legitimate points but if somebody says that to me in his capacity as Taoiseach, I have to take note of it, and I ask people to respect that please. If there are other questions to be tabled in that regard, please do so and if they are ruled out or in we will deal with them.

The Taoiseach: I am quite sure that when the interviews took place, they took place in the context of their not being released for a very significant period. They have been the subject of court cases. Some of the tapes are now in the possession of the PSNI, having been declared eligible in this regard in the court decision. I have not heard the tapes and do not know what the direct response, evidence or information given by the persons who gave the interviews actually means in the context of some of the discussions we have had here.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Let me say in passing, on the issue of Jean McConville—–

An Ceann Comhairle: I would prefer it if the Deputy did not.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Her family has every right to ask questions about her body’s whereabouts and the circumstances of her death. The Taoiseach has the right to ask questions also. How does he square his concern over killings such as that of Jean McConville and his desire for questions to be answered on that subject with his not showing the same vigour and concern when it comes to the equally innocent victims of US foreign policy in Pakistan or Afghanistan?

An Ceann Comhairle: Could we stick to the questions on the Order Paper?

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Should the Taoiseach not have been asking the same questions of the American Administration when he was in Boston?

An Ceann Comhairle: Perhaps the Deputy would table a parliamentary question.


Deputy Gerry Adams: I understand the difficult position of the Ceann Comhairle considering that the Taoiseach answered the question put to him, Question No. 3, by saying he did not discuss the Boston College Belfast oral history project when he was in the college and, therefore, had no statement to make on it.

Then we had the leader of Fianna Fáil, Deputy Micheál Martin, going on to make all sorts of accusations. If I were to come here and make those types of accusation about any other Teachta Dála, I imagine I would be ruled out of order.

Deputy Micheál Martin: The Deputy has.

An Ceann Comhairle: I assure the Deputy that he gets the same treatment as anybody else.

Deputy Gerry Adams: I ask the Taoiseach to resist the temptation to play party political games with this issue because I said in my remarks, as he will recall, that I was a little conflicted about whether I should ignore what Teachta Micheál Martin was saying or whether I should respond to him. I responded by saying: “I have consistently rejected claims that I had any knowledge of or any part in the abduction or killing of Jean McConville.” I do so again today. Will that be the end of the matter? Of course not because this party, under its current leader, is fighting a battle for its survival and that is its only concern in raising this issue. I repeat what Teachta Micheál Martin said last week to the Taoiseach: “You have chosen to exploit the past, not to learn from it.” He should practice what he preaches. The abduction, killing and burial of the people concerned was a grave injustice, but efforts are ongoing and when the seat on which Deputy Micheál Martin has his bum is cold, they will still be ongoing until all the remains have been returned. Jean McConville was one of those whose remains were retrieved through the diligent work of the people on the commission and others, but the remains of seven people have yet to be found. We have to continue with our efforts, no matter what is said or how this is used or exploited for party political gain. I do not know what the voters think of it all, but it is more important than what passes for politics sometimes in this House.