The PSNI Arrives on Tuesday for a Monday Lunch
Friday, May 30, 2014
They’re too late.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland recently announced that they intended to make a broader MLAT request for every interview from the Boston College oral history collection they first began to mine in 2011. But Boston College also announced that it intended to return interviews to the former members of Northern Ireland paramilitary organizations interviewed for the university’s Belfast Project. For a while, it appeared that the PSNI’s announcement trumped BC’s announcement: The news that more subpoenas were on the way would prevent the return of interviews.
For at least one Belfast Project interviewee, however, that’s not what happened. Whether or not the PSNI gets the U.S. Department of Justice to subpoena the Boston College archives again, some of the interviews are out of their hands forever. They have already gone home.
Take a look at this remarkable set of documents that was posted on Pacer, the federal court system’s document website, on Thursday:
NBC O’Rawe from PACER
Of particular interest are pages 3 and 4 of the PDF file, a May 1, 2014 letter from Jeffrey Swope, Boston College’s outside lawyer for matters involving the Belfast Project, to Kevin Winters, the Belfast-based solicitor who represents former IRA member and Belfast Project interviewee Richard O’Rawe. Swope details a long list of documents and audiotapes that he is returning to O’Rawe through the offices of KRW Law, Winters’ Belfast law firm. They are all of O’Rawe’s interviews — tapes and transcripts — except the ones that the PSNI already received on account of the 2011 subpoenas. Also returned: O’Rawe’s complete correspondence with the Belfast Project. There’s nothing left but the material that police already have.
I don’t know if material from other interviewees has already been sent back to them. Boston College and Jeffrey Swope have long since stopped responding to questions from me, and other people who would know about the return of interviews are either not responding to messages or not saying. (And I wouldn’t respond to the questions I’m asking them, either, if our positions were reversed.) But if Boston College began returning interviews, there’s no reason for them to have returned interviews to Richard O’Rawe but not to other interviewees, some of whom have been asking for the return of their interview material since shortly after the 2011 subpoenas arrived.
Bottom line: At least one interviewee has beat the PSNI to the archive, and maybe more. (Interviews that are unlikely to have been returned, and that are unlikely to ever be returned, are those for which Boston College has lost identifying material. So the PSNI may still be able to get its hands on interviews with unidentifiable research subjects, the legal value of which will be limited.)
Meanwhile, the political floor is beginning to give way beneath the PSNI’s effort to treat the Troubles as ordinary crime.
The likelihood of a successful PSNI / DOJ return to the Belfast Project archives is rapidly fading.
The Fall Out from the Boston College Tapes Continues
The Adrian Flannelly Show
Irish Radio Network USA
May 24, 2014
Northern Ireland’s Police Service has initiated steps to demand from Boston College the remainder of the 46 confidential oral histories conducted with members of the IRA and loyalist militias involved in the decades long war as part of the school’s Belfast Project. In meantime, an article that appeared in Ireland’s Sunday World online news edition claims that Anthony McIntyre — who was the main researcher of the Oral History project at Boston College- and his wife US citizen Carrie Twomey are now seeking political asylum –- Carrie Twomey denies any of this and claims that somebody was listening in to her telephone conversations with the US Embassy in Ireland.
Adrian Flannelly (AF) interviews Carrie Twomey (CT) via telephone from Ireland about allegations made in a recent Irish tabloid about her and her husband Anthony McIntyre, the lead researcher for the Boston College tapes.
AF: We’re going to go to Ireland and we will catch up with Carrie Twomey who is the wife of Anthony McIntyre. Anthony McIntyre was indeed the – correct me if I’m wrong here – first of all Good Morning, to you. Well, it’s Good Morning in New York and Good Afternoon to you, Carrie.
CT: Good Morning. Good Morning. And Good Afternoon. And thank you for having me today.
AF: I just want to check a few things with you. Your husband, Anthony McIntyre, was hired by Boston College to conduct interviews for the Boston College oral archive.
Is that pretty much it?
CT: Yes. Boston College contracted Ed Moloney as project director for what they called The Belfast Project which was meant to be an oral history archive of people that were involved in The Troubles.
It was based on the idea of the Bureau of Military History where they had also done archived interviews and recorded the history of what went on.
And Anthony was hired to conduct the interviews. Which he did. He conducted interviews – many hours of interviews with twenty-six people.
He was hired because first of all he has his PhD. His PhD is in the history of the Provisional IRA and the formation of it and he is academically trained.
And he is also a former IRA Volunteer who did eighteen years in Long Kesh. He was there during the blanket protest – he was four years on the blanket and no-wash protest and he was there during the hunger strikes.
And he would have the experience and the knowledge and the training to conduct an oral history very much in the vein of what we now see being published in the third volume of Ernie O’Malley’s oral history of the IRA from the 20’s and whatnot.
It’s an honoured tradition that he’s following in.
AF: A story, maybe even two stories carried by The Sunday World tabloid, which is a very popular paper in Ireland, in the northern edition they have carried some allegations which you don’t agree with including the fact – well, you can tell us the fact – but the amount of money paid to Anthony and then an add-on to that that you were being paid as his assistant.
Can you straighten that out for us?
CT: Yes. There have been a number of allegations floating both in cyberspace and commentary and specifically published in The Sunday World tabloid about Anthony’s role in the project.
And our safety is very much at risk – graffiti is sprayed up and down on the walls of the Falls Road: “Boston College Touts” – “In-Former Republicans” and so there’s an issue being made of how much money Anthony made or was paid or was paid to conduct these interviews which amount to twenty-five grand a year.
AF: That’s twenty-five thousand pounds?
CT: Yeah. That’s not a lot of money. He did not make any money from the book because he had nothing to do with the book – he was not involved in it.
He did not make any money from the documentary because he was again not involved in it.
I was never hired nor worked on the Boston project as is being alleged.
Number One: I understood at the time that the project was being conducted the issue of how sensitive the material was and it was in my own interest, safety-wise, to have nothing to do with it – to not know anything about it.
And Number Two: There was never a position there anyway! I never worked on the Boston project.
I became involved in the campaign to stop the subpoenas but that’s not a paid position. I’m not hired by anybody. I’m doing this because I love my husband and I want to protect my family.
It’s just a lot of scary stuff happening and The Sunday World – they carried an article labeling Mr. Ivor Bell an informer, a “tout”.
He’s a seventy-seven year old man that’s charged with aiding and abetting and he’s the only person who has been charged in relation to the Boston tapes being subpoenaed…well, the McConville case I should say.
And the article discussed the anger that’s felt and the graffiti and named a bunch a people and named people that weren’t even involved in the Boston project and made the allegations of Anthony having tonnes of money and myself also being employed.
All rubbish. All wrong. And all very worrying because it obviously stokes up the hate campaign that’s being directed against the people that participated in the project.
And I alerted the embassy to the heightened level of threat that we’re facing…
AF: Now okay….just wait. There’s one thing I want to straighten out now: you’re American. You have two children who are American citizens.
So the conversation in the area that I would like to address is what appears to be and obviously it’s not so that you were looking for asylum for your husband, Anthony, in the United States. Because that’s the thrust of the story in The Sunday World.
CT: Yes. And I have never made a visa application and never discussed asylum with the embassy in the main because the embassy, in my communications with the State Department, have made it explicitly clear that Anthony will never be allowed in the US.
There’s no point to make any application on anything because it’s not going to happen…
AF: Just tell us why. Just tell us why that is so.
CT: Because he has the conviction for an IRA murder so in the eyes of the government he was a terrorist. And post 9/11 especially – he’s just not allowed to come in.
I’ve known this for years so this is not anything new.
And I have been very upfront – I even think that we may have discussed it in the previous interviews that we’ve done – that I have been in contact with the embassy and the consulate raising the issue trying to get the subpoenas stopped because of the safety issue so that’s never been any secret.
But the claim that I am begging for asylum? No.
No. I know that asylum is not going to happen. It’s not on the table.
What I am begging for is for the US government to stop facilitating this British grab and criminalisation of Irish history because of the danger it poses to our family.
So I had sent them The Sunday World article about Mr. Bell, just because I document everything, alerting them to the heightened risks that we’re facing and then later had a phone conversation with the embassy in which I was very angry
AF: The American Embassy in Dublin or in Belfast?
CT: The American Embassy in Dublin – Yes – for which we still do not have an Ambassador.
And I was very angry because I just think that this is a situation that has – three years we have spent pointing out exactly where this is going. And for three years we have wanted an adult to step forward and stop the train wreck and everybody’s passed the buck – nothing’s been done and [they’ve all] allowed this to continue.
I don’t want my family or the participants in this project to be the collateral damage for the United States protecting the assets of the British. I am livid over that.
So I had this conversation and I followed it up with an email that documented the contents of the conversation with the embassy.
The conversation was on Wednesday. The email was on Thursday.
And on Sunday, The Sunday World tabloid ran with a story that I had been in touch with the US administration that week, that I had begged for asylum, that Anthony was mentally unwell, that I wanted to escape the nightmare, that I had worked for Boston College – again repeating about Anthony’s earnings…
I mean, just a scurrilous, scurrilous piece and very alarming because of the risk that it poses to our safety but extremely alarming because it means that my communications with the embassy are compromised either by surveillance, electronic – through the phone, the email –
Or there’s been a serious breech of protocol and illegal privacy violations.
And I have asked the State Department for a formal investigation into the matter. I have also lodged a complaint with the Garda because this is a very serious issue.
If it’s not my phone and my email or my family being monitored this is the US government’s communications that are compromised.
And I think that the Irish government should take this very seriously whatever way this works out. This needs to be investigated.
How does this end up in The Sunday World?
Because I didn’t call The Sunday World and The Sunday World certainly did not and still have yet to call me.
AF: You’ve have no communication with them, directly or indirectly.
AF: You have had no communication with The Sunday World at all. Have they tried to talk to you?
CT: No. No, they have not. Since they’ve been running these stories they have not.
Now I know a fella that writes for The Sunday World and I have spoken to him, actually I just emailed him, asking for a copy of the article and that’s the only contact that I have had and that was after this.
But in terms of the reporter writing the story, the editor, anybody involved in the publication of the story? No. I have not had any contact with The Sunday World whatsoever.
AF: Do you agree, Carrie, do you agree that it was probably, that had it not been for the arrest of Gerry Adams in the lead-up to the elections, that there wouldn’t be a story here at all?
CT: Oh, I think that the arrest of Adams has definitely contributed to the atmosphere and the interest and the threat that we are living under right now – yes.
And I think that that’s why these malicious stories and untrue stories are being peddled around because of the arrest of Adams in particular.
I mean, you and I sat down how many years ago on this issue basically outlining where it would go if it wasn’t stopped?
And here we are where we knew where it would end up if it wasn’t stopped.
This is I think is the greatest act of British vandalisation of Irish history in recent times and they’re criminalising Irish history and I think that’s objectionable and we should be stopping it.
We have the right to tell our history – whatever perspective you’re coming from – and it should not be criminalised.
And that was always the fight: was to not to criminalise history. To resist the subpoenas based on the academic confidentiality that historians do not do the work of the police and…it’s just…
How much and how little has changed.
AF: Carrie Twomey, my guest, is the wife of Anthony McIntyre, who conducted the interviews. There are a couple of things that I’d like to sort out.
There are rumours and insinuations that your husband, Anthony McIntyre, was not paid directly by Boston College at all. That in fact, the project director, Ed Moloney…
AF: Okay, well…I guess you’re answering the question there.
CT: That’s the first that I’ve heard that!
CT: Yeah…that’s not true. He was paid by Boston College.
And if fact, anybody who has an academic contract will recognise this: Every few months when the funding runs out and you’re coming to the end of the contract and you’re like oh! what are we going to do and you’re counting your pennies and then the funding always comes through on the last day and then you’re good for another six months – I mean – that was all Boston College and pretty ridiculous to think otherwise.
AF: Okay. Now was there another source of income for your family? You do have two children and you do live in Ireland and have lived in Ireland.
Was the payment from Boston College – was that pretty much the source of revenue for your household?
CT: Yes. We lived in Belfast at the time. My children were much younger then – in fact I think I only had one child at the start of the project.
And I was (and still am) a housewife. One of the benefits that I found as an American living in Ireland was that I could stay home with my children.
The cost of childcare – were I to be working as well as Anthony be working – I would have been paying to work basically because as many working mothers know – it’s extremely difficult for enough child care to cover your ability to freely work.
So we made the decision that I would be a full-time mom and stay at home.
Also the nature of the project itself and the hours that Anthony would be working were not a set kind of thing. It wasn’t like I knew he would be from nine to five and then I could take an evening job and he could mind the kid.
It wouldn’t work like that. He could be gone at any time and he could be gone overnight at any time. So I had to be the dedicated homebody and minding the child.
Which I did and nobody paid me for that. I think we may have gotten child benefits which, if I remember correctly but I would honestly have to check, it would have been maybe eleven quid a week or something – not a lot of money and Anthony was the sole breadwinner….
AF: …Just to put that in perspective: if that was eleven quid as you say a week that amounts to what? About fifteen dollars?
CT: I don’t know and I wouldn’t stand over the amount of it but it wasn’t a huge amount of child benefits, I mean it was….
AF: …And that you were entitled to regardless, right?
CT: Yes. I’m entitled to child benefit down here and that amounts to I think two hundred and sixty a month for the two children. And that’s my income so…not a lot of money.
AF: Carrie, I do want to ask you a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up?
CT: I grew up in southern California.
AF: And when did you meet Anthony?
CT: I had read a number of articles and letters that he had written in the Andersonstown News online and I had sent him an email because I appreciated his politics. It was a long email – you know – “keep your chin up” because I could see he was pushing a very hard road and an isolated road.
AF: You were a pen pal were you! Were you a pen pal?
CT: It was a very short period. Because I sent him this thing thinking: If someone in Los Angeles is thinking that you’re right then you can’t be all that wrong – because I understood the principles that he was talking about.
He didn’t read the email! (laughs) Because it was too long!
CT: So then they had started the Irish Republican Writers Group and made a website and there was an email link on the website that didn’t work. And I emailed him again and said: By the way, did you know that this link doesn’t work and if you need any help with your website let me know.
Because that email was just two lines he replied. And we started chit-chatting just on the politics of things.
At that point I knew that I wanted to come to Ireland. I never wanted to do the two week tour as I had such an interest in Irish history and recent Irish history that I knew I needed to either come to Ireland and understand it on a day-to-day level or just get a new hobby and move on in California.
My work situation opened up where I had the opportunity and I thought I don’t want to be sixty years old and wondering “what if”. So I packed my life into six suitcases and I had a friend in Drogheda (who is Godmother to my daughter) and she said: I have a spare room. And I came over.
And this was at the time when immigration was much more lax and I thought: Okay. I have three months and if I like it I’ll do what I can to secure legal status and if I don’t I’ll come home and continue on in my career. I was a union organiser at the time.
AF: When did you meet Ed Moloney then who is the, hired separately we have to assume – correct me on anything I’m saying – but he was hired separately as director of the Boston College oral project pertaining to the history of The Troubles.
So when did you meet with Ed Moloney?
CT: I would have met him…I remember distinctly the evening that Anthony and I had dinner in his home but I can’t remember exactly when it was – but it would have been sometime before the project began I would think.
Because he and Anthony had been friends and had known each other for some time. I arrived in 2000 and the project started in 2001.
So I would have met him sometime in the Summer but I didn’t have a lot of contact with him. He was a journalist and he was somebody that Anthony knew and that knew Anthony and they had a friendship.
AF: Carrie, what about the rumours that say that from the get-go that Ed Moloney and your husband, Anthony McIntyre, had agreed to derive income a book based on the tapes?
CT: I’d really like to know where that money is because we could use it right now! (laughs)
AF: That’s why I’m talking to you.
CT: My husband made no money from any book.
And in fact the one book that my husband did do, his own book, which was a compilation of essays that he had written for our website, The Blanket, and it was picked up by a small publisher based in New York, Ausubo Press, he was paid an advance of five hundred US dollars which amounted to two hundred and fifty sterling for that book. And we recently got our first royalty check because the advance had finally been paid off with the sales – and our first royalty check was five dollars.
That’s the money that my husband has made from books.
There was no, at least from our perspective, there was no desire to do any book at the start of the project because the whole point of the project was to be confidential. The archive was there to be for the future and the whole thing was the confidentiality and the protection and the secrecy of doing this because of the dangers it posed doing.
And we can see those dangers evident today in how many people are outraged that this project was even done.
I am strongly of the opinion that the more history the better – the better we understand history – that we should not be restricted to one viewpoint only of what has occurred. And everybody has the right to tell their history. So I was very supportive of Anthony doing this.
But it was never about books or money or what could be earned from it. It was about the ability to put voices to the record and that was what was important to my husband.
AF: Now of the interviews which your husband, Anthony McIntyre, conducted to what degree – we’re talking about were most or all of those interviews strictly with the Nationalists – those who were involved in the IRA – or were there others?
CT: The archive itself was meant to expand as it went along.
It started with Anthony doing the interviews with the Republicans and then another researcher/interviewer, Wilson McArthur, was brought along to do the same thing in the Loyalist community. And…
AF: …Was there any communication, for instance, with Anthony and the other interviewer?
CT: There would be in terms of organisational communications i.e.: here’s Tom Hachey and Bob O’Neill coming over to Ireland – everybody needs to meet and discuss the project.
Not in terms of: discuss the contents of the interviews or who was being interviewed. But in terms of: where’s the funding at, are the contracts being renewed, how’s the procedure for the transport of the archive. You know, organisational matters.
But Anthony would have no idea and nothing to do with what Wilson’s work was and Wilson likewise would have had no idea or nothing to do with what Anthony was doing.
And I also want to point out in terms of the confidentiality of the project and how paramount it was and how much it was believed at the time of the project that the confidentiality guarantee was there is that my husband was one of the people who himself was interviewed.
Now he didn’t interview himself – he was interviewed by an academic. But he would not expose anybody that he was asking to also participate in the archive to any risks that he himself did not expose himself to.
So he also contributed his history and his oral history archive to the archive. That really I think says it all in terms of what the belief at the start of this project was.
AF: Carrie, we’re running out of time. I want to thank you for joining us this morning and indeed straightening out some of the confusing reports that we get.
CT: I appreciate your having me and I am always willing to speak to anybody.
If The Irish Voice or The Irish Echo, I’ve spoken with Ray before, if anybody has any questions on anything I am more than happy to clarify.
We don’t have to agree on any of the politics but the facts are easy to ascertain and I’m quite happy to help and assist in any way that I can.
And we do have the bostoncollegesubpeona.wordpress.com or if you search for Boston College subpoena news. I update it regularly. It has everything: contracts, court documents, the recent…
CT: …Sorry, I don’t mean to go on but we’re available (to check facts).
AF: Very good. Okay. We’ve got to leave it at that, Carrie Twomey, thank you for joining us on Irish Radio Network USA. And friends you are listening to Irish Radio Network and our guest there, Carrie Twomey.
Surveillance claims over Boston College tapes reported to Irish police
Wife of ex-IRA prisoner involved in recordings has asked Garda to investigate phone and email spying allegations
Henry McDonald, Ireland Correspondent
Friday 23 May 2014
The wife of an ex-IRA prisoner who was the key researcher involved with the controversial Boston College archive tapes has complained to the Irish police that her phone and email communications are being spied on.
Carrie Twomey told the Guardian on Friday night she wants the Garda Síochána to investigate her claims that her family are being subjected to electronic surveillance.
Her husband Anthony McIntyre recorded and collated the recorded testimonies of dozens of former IRA activists, some of whom have claimed on tape that Gerry Adams ordered the death and secret disappearance of mother of ten Jean McConville in 1972.
The Sinn Féin president has always denied any involvement in the kidnapping, killing and covert burial of the widow, who the IRA accused of being a British Army informer.
Since Adams was arrested earlier this month and questioned for four days by detectives about the McConville murder, McIntyre and the founder of the Boston College-Belfast Project, Ed Moloney, have come under sustained verbal attacks. Sinn Féin councillors and their supporters have labelled them “Boston College Touts” – a euphemism for informers.
The blogger and writer said a recent communication between herself and the US embassy in Dublin had been compromised and its contents leaked to a Sunday newspaper in Belfast.
“I haven’t a clue who precisely is carrying out the surveillance – it might be the NSA in the States, GCHQ in Britain or even the Provisional IRA’s spying department. But whoever is doing it this is an offence in Irish law and I want the Garda to take it seriously. ”
She added that the alleged surveillance was linked to the recent announcement that the Police Service of Northern Ireland wanted to seize all of the Boston College-Belfast Project tapes, even those not related to the McConville murder, which the police currently hold in Belfast.
Ed Moloney has urged the US government to resist police demands that all of the remaining tapes detailing paramilitary testimonies be sent to Belfast.
Moloney said that to allow a raid on “an American college’s private archive will be to undermine a peace deal that was in no small way the product of careful American diplomacy and peace building. The United States has the power to invoke vital foreign policy interests in order to reject this PSNI action.”
The author of a critically acclaimed history of the IRA added: “I also called upon Boston College to vigorously resist this action and to rally the rest of American academia in the cause of research confidentiality.”
Participants in the Belfast Project, both former IRA members and ex loyalist paramilitaries, are currently involved in legal action to take back their tapes. Many of the loyalists want the material destroyed fearing future arrests over past Troubles-related crimes. All of those who took part agreed to do so on the condition that the tapes would not be released until they were dead.
If the PSNI seizes all of the Boston College archive material it could lead to dozens of veteran IRA and loyalist paramilitaries being arrested.
Twomey said: “These claims now circulating are a direct result of a phone conversation I had with the embassy on Wednesday 14 May, 2014 and subsequent email correspondence sent Thursday 15 May, 2014, in which I highlighted the heightened risk to our safety and the safety of the participants in the project as a result of Sinn Féin’s orchestration.
“That contents/aspects of our communication, however inaccurately spun, appeared days later in a Sunday tabloid is a matter of serious concern, not least because of the privacy violations and increased risk it indicates.
“I have requested from the [US] State Department a formal investigation into how information that I had raised our safety with the embassy last week ended up in the papers. Either our phone/email is compromised, or the embassy’s communications are, and/or there has been a serious breach of protocol and illegal privacy violations have occurred.”
Northern Ireland seeks all Belfast Project interviews
May 23, 2014
Boston College will contest a new legal bid by British law enforcement to seize the entire trove of interviews from the university’s Belfast Project, university officials said Friday, joining a renewed battle over the controversial archive.
In a statement Thursday, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said it would seek to obtain the collection of interviews with former members of militia groups that clashed during the decades-long conflict known in Northern Ireland as the Troubles. But police did not specify a course of action or timetable.
“Detectives in Serious Crime Branch have initiated steps to obtain all the material from Boston College as part of the Belfast project,” the Police Service said. “This is in line with PSNI’s statutory duty to investigate fully all matters of serious crime, including murder.”
A spokesman for Boston College said Friday that the university had not received any information about the move to acquire the archives. But the spokesman said the blanket request for all materials, including interviews with more than a dozen members of a militia group loyal to Britain, seemed aimed at rebutting critics who have accused British authorities of using the archives for political purposes.
“The [Police Service of Northern Ireland] has been criticized for only pursuing the interviews of former IRA members,” said spokesman Jack Dunn. “This appears to be an attempt to deflect criticism that their actions were politically motivated.”
A spokesman for the Police Service declined to comment.
From 2001 to 2006, researchers interviewed former members of the Irish Republican Army, who sought a united Ireland, and former members of the Ulster Volunteer Force, a paramilitary group that wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom.
Dunn said Boston College would fight to protect the interviews and hoped that US authorities would reject the legal request.
“Since the first subpoenas were issued in 2011, Boston College has pursued legal, political, and diplomatic efforts to oppose the effort of British law enforcement to obtain the interviews in an effort to protect the enterprise of oral history and the peace agreement in Northern Ireland,” Dunn said. “We will continue to do so and hope that the State Department and the Department of Justice will reject this latest request.”
A spokeswoman for the US attorney’s office in Massachusetts declined to comment.
Former militia members consented to interviews for the oral history project with the assurance that their statements would be kept confidential until their death. But Northern Ireland authorities, using a mutual legal assistance treaty with the United States, pursued the interviews as potential evidence of past crimes.
The treaty requires the nations to share information that could aid in criminal investigations.
After a lengthy court battle, Boston College was compelled to hand over 11 interviews with former members of the Irish Republican Army, leading to the recent arrest of Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, in connection with the notorious 1972 killing of Jean McConville.
After being released without charges earlier this month, Adams said interviews from the oral history project formed the basis for his arrest. Adams has denied any involvement in the killing of McConville, a mother of 10 who the IRA believed was an informer.
McConville was abducted and secretly buried. Years later, the IRA admitted responsibility for her death.
Information from the interviews also led to the arrest of Ivor Bell, a former IRA member who was charged in the slaying of McConville.
The arrests have led to criticism that Northern Irish authorities are exploiting the archives to cause political damage to Adams and Sinn Fein, the former political arm of the Irish Republican Army. Adams has criticized researchers for focusing on former IRA members who became critics of Adams and the peace process.
After Adams’s arrest, Boston College said it would return interviews to any participants who requested them and would not keep copies. Several people had already made requests.
Ed Moloney, an Irish journalist who led the project, blasted the British authorities’ latest bid to obtain the archives.
“I call upon the US government to resist this fishing expedition by the PSNI and to remember that the major consequence of this bid to invade an American college’s private archive will be to undermine a peace deal that was in no small way the product of careful American diplomacy and peace building,” he wrote on his blog.
“I also call upon Boston College to vigorously resist this action and to rally the rest of American academe in the cause of research confidentiality,” he wrote.
NBC News has also requested that previously subpoenaed materials be unsealed, writing that “any case involving incidents of terrorism and criminality . . . is a matter of great public interest.”
Sarah Wunsch — staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which backed two project researchers in their effort to protect the interviews — called on American authorities to reject the police request.
“I think it’s time for the US government to call a halt to this, which is not only damaging to oral history and academic freedom, but also immensely damaging to peace in Northern Ireland,” she said.
Boston College tapes: PSNI bid to obtain all material
22 May 2014
The Police Service of Northern Ireland have confirmed that they are seeking to obtain all material relating to Boston College’s Belfast Project.
The project features interviews with dozens of former paramilitaries.
Previously, the PSNI gained access to material from the project relating to the 1972 murder of Jean McConville.
Information from the recordings led to a series of arrests, including that of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.
The PSNI said: “Detectives in Serious Crime Branch have initiated steps to obtain all the material from Boston College as part of the Belfast Project.
“This is in line with the PSNI’s statutory duty to investigate fully all matters of serious crime, including murder.”
The Boston College project was designed as an oral history of the Troubles.
Breach of contract
Paramilitaries from the IRA and the Ulster Volunteer Force gave candid interviews to researchers employed by the university, on the understanding that their involvement would not be made public until after their deaths.
The PSNI used a treaty between Britain and the United States to obtain material relating to Mrs McConville.
Researchers fought the release of the interviews through the US courts.
They maintained that it would represent a breach of contract and trust, and violate the ethical code on the protection of sources.
Judge Young, who read the archive in order to determine which testimonies made reference to Mrs McConville, acceded to the PSNI request.
He did, however, describe the project as “a bone fide academic exercise of considerable merit”.
Carmen Ortiz In The Spotlight, Under Fire
By Phillip Martin
7 May 2014
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As Massachusetts’ first female and first Hispanic U.S. Attorney, Carmen Ortiz was widely considered a potential rising star in Democratic Party politics. But over the past three years she has had her hands full with controversial cases that have left whatever political plans she may have had in a state of uncertainty.
There have been big-name prosecutions that she has lead — and is leading now — that under most circumstances would be the kind of feather in one’s cap that could propel an ambitious would-be politician to greater heights. For example, it was Ortiz’ss office that put notorious fugitive gangster Whitey Bulger away. And she’s leading the prosecution of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
But questions have been raised about Ortiz’ss decision to cooperate with the British government to gain legal access to Boston College’s interviews with former Irish Republican Army members. Archival voices in that collection include that of IRA member Delours Price, who died in 2013. Two years before she passed, the U.S. Attorney subpoenaed BC for Price’s interviews, though that information — purportedly linking the IRA and its leaders to multiple murders — was supposed to be kept confidential until her death. Ortiz’s critics say that her relentless pursuit of information from Price while she was alive went too far. That same year — 2011 — Ortiz’s office pursued federal charges on behalf of MIT against a talented computer programmer named Aaron Swartz.
“I think that Carmen Ortiz — there’s an interesting thing — her pursuit of Aaron Swartz went along side of the Dolours Price archives,” said Carrie Twomey, the wife of Anthony McIntyre, the principal researcher at BC’s oral history project. Twomey told WGBH News that Ortiz’s decision to pursue separate federal actions against both Swartz and Price may have contributed to their tragic fates.
“Both Dolours Price and Aaron Swartz died within weeks of each other,” she said. “The stress of the case that was taken against them really took a toll on their mental health. And Carmen Ortiz’s office was aware, made aware in both cases, that the people she was pursuing, Dolours for the archive and Aaron Swartz for the MIT aspect, were vulnerable people.”
Speaking with WGBH Radio from her home in County Louth, Ireland, Twomey said that Boston College and MIT were faced with two fundamental questions: “Do they cooperate with the authorities and compromise their research or compromise their academic freedom? Or do they protect what they are supposed to be bulwarks for? So I think Eric Holder and Carmen Ortiz, they looked at this as purely criminal.”
It was two years ago that McIntyre and journalist Ed Moloney argued before the first federal court of appeals in Boston that the U.S. Attorney’s decision to issue subpoenas to force BC to divulge details from the oral history project would put their lives in danger. In court, Carmen Ortiz’ office pushed back, represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Healy Smith.
“The issue there is Mr Moloney, who is here and a US citizen, asserted no risk to his personal safety. The personal safety of Mr. McIntyre….our constitution does not protect non-citizens outside of the country from unnamed third parties who might bring them harm” – Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Healy Smith, April 4, 2012
The court sided with Boston’s U.S. Attorney, but that wasn’t the end of the matter. Christina Sterling, a senior spokesperson for Ortiz’ office, responded to this story with a carefully worded statement:
“The Department of Justice received a request from the United Kingdom for legal assistance in an active criminal investigation involving allegations of murder, kidnapping and other serious crimes,” the statement read. “Consistent with our treaty obligations and our long-standing law enforcement relationship with the U.K., we responded. This matter was litigated all the way up to the United States Supreme Court and at each stage the court found our actions consistent with our treaty obligations and otherwise in compliance with U.S. law.”
But Moloney — the author of a major history of the IRA and on whose work the Oral History Project at BC is based — says that Ortiz and the DOJ should never have sought confidential files from BC in the first place, because, he argues, the details about IRA disappearances and the purported role of Gerry Adams came from a another source, despite claims to the contrary by a Sunday tabloid in Ireland.
“And in order to disguise the true origin, which was the Irish news tape, the reporter in the Sunday tabloid said that, or implied that, he had been given access to Delours Price interview from the Boston College Archives,” Moloney said. “That claim was repeated by Carmen Ortiz in her affidavit to the district court in Boston in the autumn of 2011 when court proceedings started. This claim by Carmen Ortiz was made without any attempt to exercise due diligence on the part of the Department of Justice.”
Boston College was issued subpoenas through Ortiz’ office on behalf of the Police Services of Northern Ireland. The basis for the subpoenas was what is known as a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, and with that, BC spokesman Jack Dunn says, Ortiz gave Boston College little choice but to comply.
“We fought that subpoena — two subpoenas actually — over the course of two years, and we did our best to try to defeat it,” Dunn said. “We don’t think it was appropriate for government to infringe on academic research and thus we embarked on a two-year campaign to oppose the subpoenas. I suppose she’s doing her job, but we do think that special privilege should be given to academic research, because if people feel they can’t tell their oral history stories out of fear out of government involvement, no one will ever tell these stories.”
“A chilling effect” is the phrase some have used to describe the fallout from the Boston College case. It’s the same phrase many of Swartz’s supporters have employed to describe the impact of Ortiz’s decision to prosecute the young hacker, who had used his computer skills to download a massive trove of academic articles from MIT’s computer network, JSTOR.
Federal prosecutors in response to the MIT breach filed charges that could have landed Swartz in prison for 35 years and $1 million in fines. He took his life in New York after the indictment came down. Now, the upcoming theatrical release of a new Sundance documentary about Swartz threatens to resurrect negative public opinion about the role of U.S. prosecutors in Boston. Swartz’s family specifically blamed MIT and Ortiz’s office for his death.
“If Aaron had been Goldman Sachs than it would have been handled in a much different way,” said Harvard Law professor Larry Lessig, Swartz’s friend and mentor. “I mean, one of the most striking things about the prosecution is to recognize the way in which the opportunity here to exploit this relatively young, not corporately connected individual becomes almost irresistible for the prosecutors. And every effort to try to check it and insert reasonableness and proportionality into the process gets resisted and instead results in more extreme efforts by the prosecutor.”
The Swartz case has become a cause célèbre across the Internet, where Ortiz has by contrast been widely portrayed as a villain. Ortiz has not spoken publicly about the Swartz case, nor the Boston University Oral History Project. Indeed, many U.S. Attorneys often cannot speak for themselves for fear of jeopardizing legal proceedings and sometimes torpedoing political ambitions. So Sterling read a statement to WGBH News on Ortiz’s behalf:
“So for starters, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz has made it clear many times that she does not have political aspirations,” Sterling said. “She has been and continues to be focused on her job as United States Attorney. Carmen, like her predecessors, makes very difficult decisions every day and those decisions often resonate widely in our own communities, and the nation for that matter. For all the praise for investigating public corruption, terrorism and organized crime cases, there will always be criticism. It comes with the job.”
Dunn sympathizes with what one observer describes as Ortiz’s “between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place position” in regard to federal prosecutorial decisions that often emanate from Washington, and the kind of negative fallout that would put a nail in the coffin of political ambitions anywhere.
“I don’t know if people are particularly passing their blame to Carmen Ortiz unfairly, but in fairness to her, I suspect she feels that she had a job to do, so things might have been done differently,” he said. “That’s the beauty of hindsight.”
But others are not so sympathetic, and Ortiz says she will have to live with that. It comes with the job.
TRANSCRIPT: Anthony McIntyre and Carrie Twomey On Boston College’s Role In Gerry Adams’ Arrest
Boston Public Radio
89.7 FM Boston, MA
2 May 2014
It’s a complicated geopolitical whoddunit that could have been plucked straight out of John le Carré’s imagination.
A political leader celebrated for brokering peace among political foes gets arrested for a murder that happened over 40 years ago and the arrest is based on information that was suppose to remain under lock and key.
This is the real life story of Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams.
Today marks his third day in custody as he faces questions about one of the murders of the Northern Ireland Troubles – the kidnapping and killing of Jean McConville.
Today on Boston Public Radio Emily Rooney and Jim Braude opened the show by going over the latest developments surrounding Gerry Adams’ arrest.
Listening online from their home in County Louth, Ireland, Anthony McIntyre–who was the main researcher of the Oral History project at Boston College– and his wife US citizen Carrie Twomey were compelled to call in. To hear their take on Boston College’s role in Gerry Adams’ arrest listen here
Jim Braude (JB) and Emily Rooney (ER) interview Dr. Anthony McIntyre (AM) and Carrie Twomey (CT) about the Boston College tapes and the arrest of Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams.
(begins time stamp 1:10:00)
JB: Coming up in a second: Emily and I started the show talking to Tom O’Neill about the Belfast tapes. Tapes were recorded at Boston College – interviews with members of the IRA and others who talked about the history of The Troubles in Northern Ireland. The commitment that was made to these people was that until people were dead they would never be disclosed to the public.
Well, it turns out the British government requested that Barack Obama’s Administration get these records, because they believe crimes had been committed – violent crimes – they subpoenaed the records. Ultimately, a federal judge ordered Boston College to turn over the records – which they eventually did and as a result of that, one of the results of that, is Gerry Adams, head of Sinn Féin, was arrested on Wednesday and could possibly be charged with the murder of forty years ago.
We are joined on the phone by somebody who’s intimately involved in all this. Anthony McIntyre went to prison when he was in his teens. As an adult he was intimately involved in years with this Belfast tapes project. I believe he interviewed somewhere in the neighbourhood of twenty-five or twenty-six people. And is his wife on the phone as well, Chelsea, Amanda, – are they both on the phone here?
We’re joined on the phone by Anthony McIntyre and his wife, Carrie …I hope…is it Twomey – is how you say it, Carrie?
CT: Yes. Carrie Twomey.
JB: Thank you both very much for joining. We appreciate it.
ER: So this morning we interviewed Mr. Ed Moloney who suggested that Boston College really blew it here by allowing the government to come in and essentially seize the tapes. And you were part of this project – you were part of this interview project.
The tapes were supposed to remain secret until the key parties were dead.
As we know Gerry Adams is not dead. Now he has been implicated in this murder of a woman forty years ago – a woman who had ten children, “disappeared”, was mutilated, tortured, murdered, and IRA suggesting that not only was Gerry Adams part of the IRA but he was actually part of this murder.
First of all – on the releasing of the data from Boston College: How do you feel about that?
JB: Anthony, let’s start with you if we can.
AM: Hello and what is the question? I just didn’t get it.
JB: How do you feel about the fact that Boston College after, they contend, fought as long as they could with the courts decided to surrender some of the material where confidentiality, at least for a certain period of time, had been promised.
What was your reaction to that, Anthony McIntyre?
AM: Well, I have been disappointed with the stance that Boston College took from the very outset.
It seemed clear to me that when Boston College tried to conceal from both myself and Ed Moloney that the subpoena had been issued by the British that they were considering just simply folding.
Ed Moloney discovered this as a result of a conversation with a member of the Boston College staff who broke rank and told him. Ed suspected that something was afoot and phoned The New York Times. He contacted The New York Times and explained to them what the British were seeking to do.
After that the Boston College position was one of deliberating on whether or not to resist. That to me was a clear abdication of responsibility. There was only one place to go – no deliberations about whether to resist – just deliberate about the manner in which that resistance would take place.
Then Boston College hired a lawyer but I don’t think over the run of events that Boston College put up the fight, particularly in the political arena, that it could have and should have done. So I’m deeply disappointed.
CT: I’m delighted to see Thomas O’Neill stepping in now and I only wish that what he is saying now was said the moment the subpoenas arrived.
Emily may recall the interview that she did with me a few years ago; this has been going on for years.
When I was in Senator Kerry’s office for trying to get help to stop these subpoenas from going through – saying much the same things that Thomas O’Neill is putting forth and he’s one hundred percent correct.
I only wish that that had been Boston College’s position from the getgo. We may not be where we are today had it been so.
JB: Anthony McIntyre, would you have gotten involved in this whole project if you knew there was a possibility down the line that Boston College would not honour its commitment to you and others involved in it?
AM: No. I would not have gotten involved.
Moreover I would not have gotten involved had I had been made aware that even if Boston College were prepared to put up the fight of their lives to prevent the subpoenas from succeeding I would not have gotten involved had I been made aware that a subpoena could in fact actually be issued.
Boston College made it clear to us that under no circumstances under which a court order to acquire, to gain access to these interviews. And not only did they make it clear to myself and Ed Moloney they also made it clear to the Loyalists who confirmed this independently of anything that we have said.
JB: Anthony McIntyre what I started to say was: Do you feel at risk yourself as a result of these disclosures?
AM: I feel every time that an incident like this comes around where people are arrested, and particularly the arrest of Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, I feel that it certainly enhances the level of discomfort and within that discomfort zone there is the potential for an increased risk. So I feel there’s always that possibility, yes.
CT: When the project is described as “malicious”, when it’s described as “anti-Republican”, when the people behind the project, like my husband and Ed Moloney, are described as a cabal consorting with the “dark side” as Martin McGuinness has described it, when graffiti such as “Informer Republican Boston College Touts” goes on the walls of the Falls Road as happened this morning –
Yes, we are at risk. And it’s not just us, my family, my husband and my children that are at risk it is all the people that participated very bravely in this project.
ER: Onto the bigger issue, Anthony and Carrie, the accusations that Gerry Adams of Sinn Féin was involved in the murder of this McConville woman, did you find that credible when you listened to that testimony? Anthony, did you find that credible?
AM: I think in a war situation that anything is credible.
One has to presume the legal innocence of Mr. Adams until such time that he’s proved legally guilty or otherwise.
But this is not what the project’s about.
The project was about getting the narrative of people who had participated in the conflict.
I am not going to say that Gerry Adams is guilty of the killing Jean McConville. What I am saying is that Brendan Hughes has made that allegation, Brendan and Dolours, which is Dolours Price, and I think that the information that Boston College obtained through confidentiality should have been protected totally.
And I don’t think that the British government have any grounds whatsoever for the political pursuit of Gerry Adams.
CT: It is not the job of the historian to police society.
And it is not the job of the police to criminalise history – which is what this subpoena has effectively done. It has criminalised Ireland’s history.
This project was done in good faith because the 1998 Good Friday Agreement allowed for peace, and conflict to be put in the past and peace to start to take root. People could come forward, and needed to come forward, to tell their own life stories. And now with the subpoena, because the police can’t do their own work they’re trying to use work of historians. It’s criminalised history and it’s had a chilling effect. And Boston College really could have done and should be doing a lot more rather than throwing its researchers under the bus.
JB: Yeah but Anthony and Carrie you’ve both spoken, particularly you Carrie – well you’ve both of you have spoken about the abdication of their responsibilities, as you see it, on the part of Boston College. They would have never been put in this position had the Obama Administration not agreed with the British government to pursue subpoenas.
JB: So what’s your take on John Kerry at the State Department and Barack Obama? What’s your take on their involvement in this? Carrie starting with you.
CT: Can I say? – I think that Carmen Ortiz – there’s an interesting thing – her pursuit of Aaron Swartz went along side of the Dolours Price archives.
Both Dolours Price and Aaron Swartz died within weeks of each other.
The stress of the case that was taken against them really took a toll on their mental health. And Carmen Ortiz’ office was aware, made aware in both cases, that the people she was pursuing, Dolours for the archive and Aaron Swartz for the MIT aspect, were vulnerable people.
And these are also two Boston academic institutions that were faced with the problem of: Do they cooperate with the authorities and compromise their research or compromise their academic freedom?
Or do they protect what they are supposed to be bulwarks for?
So I think Eric Holder and Carmen Ortiz, they looked at this as purely criminal. It’s my understanding that they didn’t consult with the State Department when this arrived – they just ran with it.
And they are undoing – and this is not good for the Obama Administration – they’re undoing the good work of American policy that started under Clinton, continued under Bush, in trying to stabilise and bring peace to Northern Ireland.
And this acceptance of the subpoena and cooperation with the British authorities on this when they had the opportunity to say: No, this is contrary to our policy – our foreign policy – the cooperation is actually unraveling the peace process and this is under Obama’s watch.
JB: I want to get to that in a second because that’s obviously arguably one of the most important bottom lines. But Carrie, just to continue with what you’re saying – by the way we’re speaking to Anthony McIntyre who was intimately involved in the research and interviews for The Belfast Tapes which are now centre stage in Boston and Ireland and around the world. And Carrie Twomey, his wife, is on with us as well. From what you say, Carrie, you seem to be suggesting that you lay blame, at least on the governmental end, purely on the Justice Department.
Do you really believe that Eric Holder instructed Carmen Ortiz, the US Attorney here, as to what to do without consulting with John Kerry’s department – without consulting with anybody higher up in the Obama Administration? Is that what you’re suggesting?
CT: Well, it wouldn’t be above government bureaucracy to play pass the buck.
So absent of Freedom of Information requests and being able to legally obtain correspondence and whatnot I will never know who said what and who dropped the ball and who gave the go ahead.
The subpoena itself was sealed.
CT: But using common sense, using chain of command – and the people who have been helpful and the people who have not been helpful my conclusion would be yes, I think that Holder’s office and Ortiz’ office – they looked at this as their territory – criminal justice and you know…State Department? If I can use the term it’s “territorial pissings” and Ireland’s paying the price for that.
Because the Obama Administration, who have yet to appoint an Ambassador to Ireland – we’re still without an Ambassador here – does not rate Ireland as a priority for his foreign policy, this has gone under the radar and it’s blowing up in their faces. And we’ve spent the last three years begging anybody to come forward and stop this train wreck from happening.
ER: Carrie, you mentioned Tom O’Neill in the beginning of the discussion saying that if what he’s saying now had been said previously before these tapes were released that this never would have happened. I think you probably know Tom O’Neill is also defending Boston College saying that their hands were forced. They had no choice.
CT: Well, it’s about time Boston College is doing that and I’m glad. I’m not going to begrudge it. I am glad that Boston College is finally stepping up to the plate. And I hope heads will roll at Boston College….
ER: …(through crosstalk) They won’t, no, no. No. No. We’re saying the opposite. That Tom O’Neill and people are defending them saying they did the right thing. Boston College is defending themselves saying they had no choice. They had to release these tapes.
CT: No. That is not true.
A subpoena – you can put in the motion to deny and you can fight it. As Anthony pointed out, when it arrived they took way too long to decide to even fight it.
Their strategy was: ‘These guys are just terrorists. We don’t want to be associated with terrorists. How do we get out of this?’
You can take a principled stand. Now I understand as an institution it’s different from an individual journalist who will say I will go to jail to protect my sources.
But as we can see with the reaction that Thomas O’Neill has brought from high-level people because he is such a powerful figure there was a lot more that Boston College could have done politically to move things than what they did.
AM: I would like to add something to this.
AM: After the first subpoena was issued I alerted Boston College – warned the Boston College staff – that the second subpoena was very, very likely.
And that in the meantime, the interim period, what the Boston College staff needed to do was to protect an endangered archive by getting it out of its custody immediately and sending it over to my custody whereby I would insure its protection until such time it was safe to put it back into Boston College.
The staff there, and we have a record of this, informed us that the second subpoena would not be issued. They had taken advice from people formally schooled in international law.
Then the second subpoenaed came through.
So Boston College left an endangered archive on its campus, vulnerable to the second subpoena, and so it did not do what it could have done.
CT: And don’t forget, the second subpoena contained a fourth category of materials.
It sought any material that was in the archive at the time of the first subpoena and had since been moved. Now, either somebody at Boston College told the Department of Justice these people are looking to move the archive out or, as Edward Snowden has revealed, communications between our lawyers and Boston and whatnot, electronic and otherwise, are compromised.
How would the Department of Justice know that there was a proposal on the table to move the rest of archive out? That’s what precipitated the second subpoena.
JB: Anthony McIntyre, who did many of the interviews for The Belfast tapes and Carrie Twomey, are on the phone with us from Northern Ireland where they’re calling.
Anthony, could you just go back to something you said a couple of minutes ago that I want to be clear on.
You’re saying that prior to any of this you and others were assured by Boston College that no subpoenas could or would ever be issued in a matter like this. Can you fill in the blanks there just one more time if you would?
When I first met the Boston College staff I was told by a professor that..or sorry, Dr. Bob O’Neill, that there were no circumstances that the university would take into its library any material if that material posed any threat or chance of legal repercussions for the donor, for the interviewee.
AM: Now at that time Bob O’Neill did not feel able to give the assurances, this was in June of 2000 in Belfast, that the material would be able to resist a court order. But he did feel that given the American values of free speech and the First Amendment…
CT: …and the Fourth Amendment.
AM: …it was highly unlikely that any court order would be able to access the stuff.
Now that was not good enough for myself and Ed Moloney because we wanted cast-ion guarantees – we didn’t want anything else.
So Boston College then went away and came back after that – a month later – and gave the green light for this.
We then helped draft a donor consent form and Ed Moloney insisted that the donor consent form, which guaranteed absolute control and total protection, would be run passed the Boston College legal council. Now Bob O’Neill promised to do that before moving on with the project. He later admitted to The Chronicle for Higher Education, Beth McMurtrie, that he did not do that.
So this is where the project started to come off the rails – at the very start – at that crucially important stage – and he did not reveal to us that he did not have this legally checked and that therefore there was no existence of a firewall preventing the British state accessing this material.
At a later date they told – the Boston College staff met with the Loyalists and told the Loyalists the same thing: that not even a peek, a “sneak-peek” on the part of the PSNI would be permissible.
The Loyalists had asked again: Was there any possibility of a court order? And they were told no. They asked would the PSNI be able to monitor it or even have a look? They were told no – under no circumstances.
And if we watch the whole discourse throughout, Tom Hachey’s writing, they were very,very clear that there were no circumstances under which this material could be handed over without the approval of the interviewee.
There was no room for ambiguity on this.
CT: One of the listeners called in earlier and pointed out that if an academic institution is taking on this kind of research they have the obligation to protect it – otherwise don’t take it on.
Boston College took on this project in full awareness of what it was: it could not be anything other than former combatants of the Northern Irish conflict giving their oral history of their perspective. Well, that is obviously highly sensitive material.
If they were not going to protect it when problems arose they should not have taken it in. They folded and left us to defend it. And it’s just…
Your listener was right.
JB: Well, Anthony McIntyre and Carrie Twomey, we really, really appreciate your time and filling in many blanks for us. Thanks so much for calling in. We appreciate it.
CT: Thank you.
ER: Thank you both.
AM: Thank you very much. Much appreciated.
(ends time stamp 1:31:12)
Adams detention could hasten civil action
3 May 2014
A son-in-law of Jean McConville believes that circumstances are coming together that will facilitate a long hoped for civil action against Gerry Adams for his alleged role in the mother-of-10’s murder.
Seamus McKendry said yesterday that he hoped the arrest of Mr Adams would speed up the point at which the Boston Tapes – containing interviews with republicans about the murder – could be released by the PSNI to his legal team.
A criminal prosecution must prove guilt ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. However, civil actions must only prove their case on ‘the balance of probability’ – a much easier prospect to achieve.
“We have been wanting to bring a civil action for 20 years,” Mr McKendry, husband of Jean’s daughter Helen, told the News Letter yesterday.
“Disappearing people is against the Geneva Convention. That means it is a war crime for Jean’s murderers to be walking down the streets when Milosevic and his friends were brought to trial for the same thing.”
At present he is putting together a business plan for the prosecution, and consulting with legal experts.
He has found three private sector backers who have expressed an interest in supporting the litigation financially.
“We are also looking at setting up a crowd funding web site on the internet to allow ordinary members of the public to contribute to the fund,” he added.
“I believe Gerry Adams was being protected for a long time to some degree to try and protect the peace process. But now I think they know it can survive without him, especially after how he handled his brother’s child sex abuse.”
Mr McKendry said he had asked the PSNI if he could have sight of the Boston Tapes as handed over by the US government, but has been refused at this time.
Michael Gallagher, whose son was killed in the Omagh bomb and who helped lead the successful civil action against those responsible, told the News Letter that the PSNI released all related files to his legal team under disclosure – but only after they found they could proceed no further with a criminal prosecution.
Mr McKendry was not sure if Mr Adams would be charged by police.
“I just don’t know at this stage if they have enough evidence to charge him,” he said. “Perhaps it would be a good time for the British government to give a full explanation as to why they sprang him from Long Kesh in 1974 to engage in talks with them? We have been fighting this battle at some level ever since.”
Meanwhile, the one seasoned observer of Irish America also noted yesterday an “almost total absence” of any voices protesting against the arrest of Mr Adams.
Sinn Fein Boss Gerry Adams Wanted This Murder Bust
The killing of a widowed mother of 10 has been hanging over Gerry Adams for 40 years. His arrest is a calculated gamble to clear his name—and began with the Obama Justice Department.
It was, nearly everyone agrees, one of the most cold-blooded and pitiless killings in Northern Ireland’s 30-some years of bloodshed and conflict.
Now, 42 years later, it threatens to place Gerry Adams, the man most responsible for ending the IRA’s brutal violence, behind bars for murder and put the Obama Justice Department in the dock for endangering a prized monument to American diplomacy and peace-building.
On a cold December evening in 1972, 37-year-old Jean McConville, a recently widowed mother of 10 young children, was with her family in their cramped apartment in Divis Flats, a working-class housing project on the edge of Catholic West Belfast, when the door was forced open and a gang of masked young women burst in and dragged her away.
Her crying children were left to fend for themselves for weeks, begging and stealing food, until eventually the local social services were alerted to their plight and they were sent to foster homes. The children were never to be reunited again as a family.
Their mother’s fate was worse. The women who burst into her flat were from the female branch of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which had been fighting the British army and government for two years to reunite Ireland and achieve full independence from Britain. West Belfast, and the Divis Flats in particular, was one of the IRA’s toughest strongholds.
The IRA women had come for Jean McConville because they believed she had been acting as an informer, passing on low-grade intelligence to the local British army barracks about local members of the IRA. A small radio transmitter had been found in her apartment, and she had been arrested by the IRA and admitted her involvement.
But a local IRA commander had given her one last chance. Brendan Hughes, a veteran IRA activist, told this writer that he had given McConville “a yellow card,” a soccer term that means another offense would result in “a red card,” or an ejection. But in the IRA’s case, “a red card” always meant death.
McConville’s family and the vast coterie of supporters who champion her cause bristle at the accusation, pointing out that a mother of 10 would hardly have time to gather intelligence on the IRA. Instead they say she was killed for giving aid to a wounded British soldier and that local people disliked her because she had been a Protestant until marrying her Catholic husband, when she converted. An inquiry headed by the Police Ombudsman, a sort of referee figure, came down against the informer allegation.
Whatever the truth, the IRA claimed to have evidence that McConville had ignored the “yellow card” warning and had resumed her treacherous activities.
What happened next, according to Hughes, sealed her fate. In the fall of 1972, the IRA in Belfast was commanded by Gerry Adams, regarded inside the IRA as the brightest strategic mind in the organization. He was also, Hughes said, a man who was very media savvy.
If the British put Adams on trial, his hardline opponents’ accusations of naiveté or selling out will be justified and the peace process will be seriously undermined.
A meeting was held of the top IRA leaders in Belfast with only one item on the agenda: what to do with McConville. Those present agreed that the penalty for informing had to be death. The only point of dispute was what to do with her body. Normally the IRA advertised the execution of traitors; the dead bodies of informers would be left in the open, “thrown in the street,” as the phrase had it, as a warning to others tempted to go down the same road.
But admitting that the IRA had killed a widow and mother of 10 was a potential public relations disaster. The media would be appalled and the British delighted. Much better, some IRA leaders argued, to kill her and hide the body, bury it in a secret grave, South American-style, so no one would ever know what had really happened—except the IRA leaders themselves.
The decision came down to “disappear” McConville. Hughes, who also gave the same testimony to Boston College’s oral history archive, said Adams agreed with the order.
And so McConville, believing she was in the hands of a Catholic charity and safe from the IRA’s vengeance, was taken across the Irish border by members of a special IRA unit called “The Unknowns,” so called because the authorities were unaware of their existence.
The unit was, according to Hughes, answerable to Adams, the Belfast commander. And so, Hughes said, the order to disappear McConville came ultimately from Adams.
McConville was taken to Dundalk, a small town just across the Irish border, held for a few days and then taken to a lonely beach at Carlingford Lough, one of Ireland’s most picturesque spots,. At the edge of an already excavated grave a single bullet was fired into the back of her head and she fell lifeless into the hole. There she lay until 2003, when a member of the public walking the beach noticed a bone sticking out of the sand.
One of “The Unknowns” who had ferried McConville to Dundalk was Dolours Price, a strikingly attractive member of a renowned Belfast IRA family. Price had joined the IRA in 1971, inspired by an aunt who had been blinded and who lost both hands in an accidental IRA explosion in 1938. Dolours Price would later gain infamy as the leader of a bombing team that devastated London in 1973.
Arrested and imprisoned, she then embarked on one of the lengthiest hunger strikes in British prison history, during which she was force-fed so often she developed life-threatening anorexia and nearly died. Released from jail, she left the IRA, married the movie star Stephen Rea, and had two sons, settling down in an affluent part of Dublin.
But she never lost her Irish Republican beliefs. When Adams concluded secret negotiations with the British, U.S., and Irish governments that resulted in an IRA ceasefire and the acceptance by the IRA’s political wing, Sinn Fein, of the existence of Northern Ireland along with government posts for Adams’s colleagues, Price sensed betrayal.
She had ferried more than McConville to secret graves, and the burden of what she had done took its toll. Like Hughes, Price was interviewed for the Boston College archive, but she kept silent about McConville. When Hughes’s interviews were made public, however, she decided to break her silence and gave a number of newspaper interviews claiming that Adams had ordered McConville to be “disappeared.”
It is these two sets of interviews that form the core of the case against Gerry Adams, that the architect of the IRA’s peace strategy was an Irish Pinochet, responsible for the “disappearing” of innocent victims.
A British government effort to subpoena the interviews held in the Boston College archive has worsened Adams’s dilemma. The archive, begun in 2001, gave interviewees a promise that their memories would stay secret until they died, but a legal loophole created by an international treaty gave the British access to the trove. After nearly three years of legal battles, last fall several other interviews were handed over to the police in Northern Ireland. In March the police moved, arresting Ivor Bell, Adams’s closest confidant in 1972, in effect his No. 2, and charged him with aiding and abetting the McConville killing.
The arrest reignited a firestorm of speculation and controversy over Adams’s role. If Bell had been involved as the police alleged, then what role did the No. 1 play? As the firestorm raged, Adams issued a challenge to the police: “If you want to question me about McConville, then here I am. I will be happy to answer your questions.”
On Wednesday, Adams surrendered himself to the police for interrogation in what is undoubtedly the biggest gamble in his political life.
The McConville allegations have been like a monkey on his back for the best part of a decade. His party, Sinn Fein—Irish for “We Ourselves”—is well placed to enter government in Dublin at the next election, but his opponents have a potent weapon to use against him: his alleged role in the disappearance of McConville. He badly needs to throw the monkey off his back, and that explains his extraordinary move in giving himself up to the police.
It is a calculated gamble. Two of those who claim he gave the order to kill McConville, Hughes and Price, are dead. (Hughes died in 2008, Price in January 2014.) And anyway, their evidence is hearsay and can’t be used to charge, much less convict, anyone.
So if Adams can hold out for the days of interrogation that lie ahead, there is a good chance he can come out of police custody, declare himself an innocent man who answered police questions truthfully, and finally throw the monkey off his back.
There is much more at stake than just Adams’s freedom and reputation, however. He was the principal architect of the IRA peace strategy; without him the IRA would never have been maneuvered out of violence. If the British put him on trial, his hardline opponents’ accusations of naiveté or selling out will be justified and the peace process will be seriously undermined.
In all of this, the role of the Obama Justice Department has escaped the scrutiny that it deserves. The road to Adams’s arrest began in May 2011, when the DoJ served subpoenas on Boston College on behalf of the British government without conducting due diligence.
In an affidavit to the Boston District Court justifying the subpoena seeking Price’s interview with the college, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz cited a Belfast Sunday newspaper report that claimed to have heard Price’s tape admitting her part in McConville’s death.
But Price never mentioned the McConville killing in her interview for the archive, and a moment’s reflection would have revealed as nonsensical the idea that a Belfast newspaper, the equivalent of a supermarket tabloid in the United States, would be allowed access to such a secret, well-protected archive held by one of the country’s most prestigious colleges. The police in Northern Ireland pulled the wool over Ortiz’s and Attorney General Eric Holder’s eyes, and they did not even notice.
The peace process in Northern Ireland is a monument to American diplomacy. Without the efforts of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, it is doubtful whether a power-sharing government would be in Belfast or whether IRA guns would not only have been silenced but destroyed. The peace process is testimony to the fact that with enough effort, jaw-jaw can prevail over war-war.
What a shame that a slipshod approach by the Obama administration to such a crucial issue has put it all at risk.