US Senator warns Boston Tapes could threaten NI peace

US Senator warns Boston Tapes could threaten NI peace
RTE News
Tuesday, 09 July 2013

Robert Menendez says he is concerned the tapes could damage reconciliation in the north

The Chairperson of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee has raised concerns over the release of interview material from the Boston College archive.

Robert Menendez said he is concerned that the release of material from the archive could “still have the effect of threatening the precious peace won by the Good Friday Agreement.”

In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Mr Menendez appealed for State Department experts on Northern Ireland to examine whether the details contained in the interviews could damage reconciliation in the North or “run counter to our national interests.”

Furthermore in the event material is handed over, the Senator asked that a section of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty is invoked which would block the material in the interviews being used in civil proceedings.

In his letter, the chair of the influential committee tells Mr Kerry that the US government should “impress upon the British government” that the release of the material is conditioned on the fact that it would not be used in a civil case.

Concluding the letter, Mr Menendez said it would be a “terrible error in judgement” if the US did not engage in what he called “due diligence” to protect “our investment in this hard-won peace.”
The PSNI has taken possession of a series of interviews with convicted Old Bailey bomber Dolours Price.

However, interviews with a further seven people are also due to be handed over, with a decision on whether or not they will be released expected in the coming weeks.

Two officers from the PSNI Serious Crime Branch travelled to the US in the last week to collect the Dolours Price interviews.

Dolours Price tape handed over to police

Dolours Price tape handed over to police
Will Pavia, New York
Times of London
8 July 2013

Tapes of interviews with an IRA car bomber that were conducted as part of an oral history project and kept locked in a Boston university archive have been handed over to detectives investigating the murder of Jean McConville, a mother of ten who was shot by paramilitaries in 1972.

The interviews contain potentially explosive claims made by Dolours Price, an IRA member who was convicted and jailed for a car bombing of the Old Bailey and who died in January. Though she consistently refused to cooperate with the police, she repeatedly claimed in interviews with journalists that she was the driver in the killing of Mrs McConville and that the murder was ordered by Gerry Adams.

She participated in taped interviews with oral historians seeking to document the Troubles, on the understanding that the tapes would be kept locked in the archives of Boston College, beyond the reach of the authorities, until after her death.

Mrs McConville’s son, Michael, told the Irish Mail on Sunday: “If Price mentions Gerry Adams in the tapes, that he was in some way involved and if it can be proved, he should be tried.”
For his part, Mr Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, has always denied that he ever belonged to the IRA or that he had any involvement in terrorist murders.

Yesterday the Police Service of Northern Ireland said two detectives from its serious crime branch had travelled to take possession of the tapes as part of their investigation into the murder of Mrs McConville.

The journalist Ed Moloney and the former IRA member Anthony McIntyre, the leading researchers behind the Belfast Project, had believed their work would remain beyond the reach of the police until after the deaths of the interviewees.

However, in late 2011, Boston College submitted to an order from a judge to hand over the tapes to police in Northern Ireland under the terms of a treaty obligation.

The researchers sought to challenge the ruling in the American courts, warning that the release of the tapes could have serious repercussions for both the peace process and the personal safety of Mr McIntyre.

“I carried out the interviews in circumstances of the greatest secrecy and confidence,” he said last year. His wife said she now lived in “constant fear… of him being shot in the street”.

Earlier this year the Supreme Court cleared the way for the tapes to be handed over to the police. However, last month a federal appeals court in Boston ruled that only 11 of the 85 interviews were relevant to the police investigation and needed to be surrendered – a decision that may yet itself be appealed.

“They have only handed over the Dolours Price tapes,” Mr Moloney said yesterday. “The rest of the tapes have not been handed over.”

After Ms Price died in January, the university was apparently free to hand over her interviews, although Mr Moloney said: “There was no obligation to make them available.”

He added: “It’s none of their damn business. This is a private archive. It’s being looked for by a police force whose Historical Enquiries Team, which is also run by the PSNI, has been found by the British Inspectorate of Constabulary to be operating double standards. They are treating killings committed by security forces in a much more relaxed and lenient way.”

PSNI receive Dolours Price interviews

PSNI receive Dolours Price interviews
Irish Republican News
7 July 2013

Confidential interviews with senior IRA figure Dolours Price have been handed over to British security forces, it has been confirmed.

The PSNI police in the north of Ireland said two detectives had e travelled to Boston to take possession of materials authorised by the United States Supreme Court.

“The officers will return to Northern Ireland to assess the material and continue with their inquiries,” a spokesman added.

It is thought the interviews may contain information which might be used by the PSNI against a number of republicans, including senior Sinn Fein figures.

Dolours was a former republican hunger-striker who became a bitter critic of Sinn Fein when the party encouraged the IRA to give up its weapons and joined a local devolved administration under British rule.

She clashed with party leader Gerry Adams in recent years over his denials that he had never been a member of the IRA.

The 62-year-old consistently had claimed that Mr Adams, now a Louth TD, had played a significant role in IRA actions, including the controversial killing of alleged informer Jean McConville.

She who died in January amid a trans-Atlantic legal battle over her interviews and after a long battle with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

The allegations are among those believed to be contained in an interview with Irish ‘researchers’ Anthony McIntyre and Ed Moloney, who were hired for the purpose by the American university.

The recordings were started in 2001 and were made on the condition that confidentiality would be guaranteed until after the death of the republicans and loyalists who took part.

McIntyre and Moloney failed to block the release of the tapes after the PSNI launched a high profile legal challenge to obtain the testimony. However, they said the eleven interviews which were ordered to be released to the PSNI are of limited value, and significantly reduced from a previous demand for 85 interviews.

The PSNI’s move to take possession of the tapes this weekend appeared designed to pre-empt a new legal challenge based on an internal British police report which found bias in the handling of historical cases by the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team (HET).

The Policing Board in the North has said it has no confidence in the leadership of the HET Team on foot of the damning report, which found British soldiers had received preferential treatment from investigators.

In a statement on Saturday, Moloney and McIntyre urged the Dublin and London governments “to suspend all criminal and non-criminal inquiries into the past until agreement has been reached by all parties on a credible way forward and a mechanism to deal with the past has been created in such a way that it commands widespread confidence and support”.

PSNI confirm securing Boston College tapes on Jean McConville’s murder

PSNI confirm securing Boston College tapes on Jean McConville’s murder
by Gemma Murray
News Letter
Published on the 07 July 2013

THE PSNI have confirmed that transcripts of interviews relating to the murder of IRA victim Jean McConville, carried out as part of a project at Boston College, are being handed over.

The PSNI had been attempting to obtain the transcripts of tapes recorded with IRA member Dolours Price, who died in January.

The transcripts are understood to contain information about the death and disappearance of the Belfast mother-of-10.

In a statement the PSNI said: “Two detectives from Serious Crime Branch have travelled to Boston to take possession of materials authorised by the United States appeal court as part of their investigation into the murder of Jean McConville.

The west Belfast mother was among dozens of people – later known as the Disappeared – who were abducted, murdered and secretly buried by republican militants during the Troubles.

The officers will return to Northern Ireland to assess the material and continue with their inquiries.”

The transcripts were made as part of Boston College’s ‘Belfast Project’, which was designed to be an oral history of Northern Ireland’s Troubles.

Project director, Ed Moloney, and his researcher, Anthony McIntyre, had resisted attempts by the PSNI to obtain the transcripts, and had hoped that the US Supreme Court would overturn a Boston Federal Court decision to hand the tapes over.

Ms Price was an unrepentant republican hard-liner who became a bitter critic of Sinn Fein when the party endorsed the Good Friday Agreement and encouraged the IRA to give up its weapons.

She clashed with party leader Gerry Adams in recent years over her allegations that he had been her IRA Officer Commanding during the early 1970s.

The 62-year-old consistently claimed that Mr Adams, now a Louth TD, had ordered the kidnap and killing of Mrs McConville in 1972.

Mr Adams has always denied being a member of the IRA.

She said she had made the claims in an interview with the American university academics who have compiled an oral history on Northern Ireland’s 40-year conflict.

The recordings were started in 2001 and were made on the condition that confidentiality would be guaranteed until after the death of the republican and loyalist paramilitaries who took part.

Price, the former wife of actor Stephen Rea, was convicted and jailed along with her sister Marian for the 1973 attack on London’s Old Bailey courts in which one man died and more than 200 people were injured.

She spent eight years in jail including several weeks on hunger strike before being released in 1980.

Revealed: Secret murder tapes that ‘name’ Gerry Adams over IRA execution of mother accused of passing information to British

Revealed: Secret murder tapes that ‘name’ Gerry Adams over IRA execution of mother accused of passing information to British

  • Adams is accused of ordering execution of mother-of-ten Jean McConville
  • IRA woman who drove Mrs McConville to her death recorded a confession
  • The tape had languished for ten years in a Boston College library
  • It has now been handed over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland

By BOB GRAHAM
Daily Mail
PUBLISHED: 21:10 GMT, 6 July 2013

The night of December 7, 1972, is forever branded on Michael McConville’s memory.

That night a gang of masked IRA terrorists smashed down the door of his family’s West Belfast home and dragged out his mother Jean, as several of her ten children clutched at her skirts and screamed.

It was the last time Michael, then 11, was to see his mother alive.

Horror: The remains of IRA murder victim Jean McConville are recovered from an area near the Templetown beach in County Louth in 2003

Now, at last, the McConville children are on the verge of hearing – from beyond the grave – the confession of the IRA woman who drove their mother to her death.

Yesterday, 11 clandestine tapes recorded by Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries, which have languished for ten years in the archives of the Burns Library in Boston College in the US, were handed over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

They include an admission from Dolores Price, one of the IRA’s most infamous terrorists, that she ferried Michael’s 37-year-old mother to the Irish Republic where she was tortured, tied up and shot in the head.

And she asserts it was Gerry Adams who sanctioned the murder.

Adams, who now sits in the Republic of Ireland’s parliament, has always strenuously denied belonging to the IRA and any involvement in terrorist murders.

But Michael McConville, now 51, believes the tapes’ shocking contents could lead to fresh arrests – among them that of Adams.

Price’s damning revelation is corroborated in another tape, made by Brendan ‘Darkie’ Hughes, the terror-hardened deputy commander of the IRA’s Belfast Brigade.

He, too, insists it was Adams who signed the Catholic Belfast housewife’s death warrant. Yet Adams claims credit for shaping the 1996 peace agreement that ended Ulster’s Troubles after he swapped the ArmaLite for the ballot box.

Price and Hughes, now both dead, agreed to make the tapes with Irish academics on the strict proviso they remain locked away while they lived. Price’s death in January this year freed the Boston College from its obligation to keep them secret.

The release of the tapes has been at the centre of a bitter legal wrangle. Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly and a self-confessed former IRA commander, and US Secretary of State John Kerry have waged a high-profile battle to have them suppressed on the grounds that they could derail Ulster’s fragile peace process.

For Michael and his siblings, their hope is that the recordings may at last lead to their mother’s executioners being brought to justice.

‘If Price mentions Gerry Adams in the tapes, that he was in some way involved and if it can be proved, he should be tried,’ Michael says. ‘At the very least I’d like to see him stand in court and answer the accusations.

‘You can’t turn around and say it is right to kill someone the way they did, especially a mother, no matter what your beliefs are.’

Michael’s mother, Jean, a Protestant who converted to Catholicism when she married husband Archie, had moved to the staunchly Republican Divis Flats in the Lower Falls area after being intimidated out of a Loyalist area.

When the IRA eventually confessed to abducting and killing her, they claimed it was because she was a ‘tout’ who was passing information to the British Army.

The McConville family has always insisted that their mother’s only involvement with the Army was that she once gave succour to an injured squaddie.

Michael has yet to hear the tapes. But shortly before she died Delores Price chillingly told me of her role in the murder of his mother – one of 17 IRA victims known as the Disappeared. She told me that her memoir, including her role driving away the Disappeared, was recorded in the Boston Project – as the collection of tapes are known.

Price, who led the IRA terror squad that bombed the Old Bailey in 1973, admitted she drove Mrs McConville to Dundalk in the Irish Republic.

She confessed she was a member of a select unit of the IRA’s Belfast Brigade, codenamed the Unknowns, whose mission was to take those believed to have betrayed Republicans for interrogation.

For those found guilty by the Republican kangaroo courts, the only sentence was death. ‘I never knew for sure their ultimate end, I was simply told by Gerry Adams to take the people away,’

Price admitted. ‘Some, I knew their fate, some I didn’t. I took seven in all. My job was to hand them over to others. I don’t even remember some of their names.

‘I drove Jean McConville away. She was a very, very unpleasant woman. I know I shouldn’t speak ill of the dead and I don’t think she deserved to die. I didn’t know she was a mother.

‘I had a call one night and Adams was in a house down the Falls Road. McConville had been snatched and held for several days.

‘It was part of my job to take them across the border to hand them over. She got into my car and as far as she was concerned she was being taken to a place of safety by the Legion of Mary [a Catholic charity].

‘She went on and on about “them f****** Provies, they wouldn’t have the balls to shoot me. F*** them”. I was saying to myself “please don’t say any more”. But she went on and on, she convicted herself out of her own mouth.

‘It wasn’t my decision to “disappear” her, thank God. All I had to do was drive her. I even got her fish and chips and cigarettes before I left her.’

Price refused to enlarge on why Adams ordered Mrs McConville’s execution, but commented: ‘You don’t deserve to die if you are an unpleasant person, as she was, but you do deserve to die if you are an informer. Particularly in a war. That is the Republican way.’

For the McConville children, their mother’s death blighted their lives for ever. Today a fragmented family, they rarely meet or discuss the trauma of her being taken.

Michael remembers his older brother Archie, then 16, followed the terrorists dragging his mother onto the street, begging: ‘Can I go with my Mammy?’ One of the gunmen took him aside, put his pistol to the teenager’s temple and told him to ‘f*** off’.

He added: ‘Not long after she was taken, a local IRA man knocked on the door and handed Mum’s purse and wedding ring to my sister.

I knew then she hadn’t just been murdered but executed. We found out she had been taken to a beach, had her hands tied, was knocked to the ground beside what would be her own grave and shot in the head.’

The Provisional IRA immediately imposed a menacing omerta among the West Belfast community. To talk of Jean McConville’s fate was to invite a visit from a death squad.’

When, 30 years after her abduction, the IRA admitted they had killed Mrs McConville, exhaustive searches found no body. Then, in August 2003, walkers stumbled upon her remains buried on Shelling Hill beach, Dundalk.

Now, for Michael McConville and his family, justice is at last in sight.

LETTER: Senator Menendez told Congressional Hearing Needed into Eric Holder’s UK MLAT Subpoenas

ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS
BREHON LAW SOCIETY
IRISH AMERICAN UNITY CONFERENCE

June 8, 2013

Honorable Robert Menendez
Chairman, Foreign Relations Committee
U. S. Senate
SD-444
Washington, D. C. 20510

Dear Chairman Menendez:

This will serve to follow-up our letter of March 20th regarding the British use of the U.S.-U.K. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) to obtain records from the Irish archives of Boston College.

We hope you will reiterate to Secretary of State Kerry the same concerns you expressed to Secretary Clinton about the British subpoenas.

We believe it is time for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to undertake a comprehensive look at the progress being made in fully implementing the 1998 Belfast Agreement between the U.K. and Ireland, and in the workings of the U.S.-U.K. MLAT amended and signed on December 16, 2004 and ratified by the Senate in May, 2008 (Exec. Rept.110-13).

The former treaty, called the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), has been supported by three U.S. Presidents, by Congress, and by the American taxpayer, but has not been critically examined in any detail in terms of its achievements or difficulties.

The more recent MLAT treaty has been the subject of legal challenges related to the British request for documents at Boston College.

We believe that in the instance of this British subpoena, the Cameron government has misused or been duped into a political use of the MLAT which was to be primarily dedicated to the ongoing prosecution of major transnational crimes related to money laundering, drug, or human trafficking, or terrorist investigations.

As we have previously indicated, the Committee on the Administration of Justice in N.I. has provided substantial documentation to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe of how exactly the British have undermined the goals of key ‘justice’ provisions of the GFA.

Not only have they failed to fully cooperate as in the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, but they are actively covering up the crimes intended to be investigated by the Historical Enquiries Team.

And in a supreme act of hubris, the Cameron government unilaterally dismissed a solemn obligation of the U.N. registered Treaty to allow a public inquiry into the murder of attorney Patrick Finucane.

Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, questioned how this could be indicating, “[T]his was a dark moment in the country’s history…..far worse than anything that was alleged in Afghanistan.”

It is our position that Britain’s actions, with respect to these justice provisions in the 1998 Belfast Treaty and the 2011 MLAT request for documents from Boston College, reflects a nation that is committed neither to the letter nor spirit of treaty requirements.

Why indeed would Prime Minister Cameron use a treaty intended primarily for ongoing investigations of major terrorist and money laundering crimes to seek records of dubious value for a killing 40 years earlier while the British Army was violently crushing the N.I. civil rights movement?

We hope the Committee can explore whether this subpoena request has more to do with political smear and malice than with a burning desire for the rule of law.

Moreover, we believe the Committee should clarify whether Congress ever intended for the MLAT to be used to trample constitutional liberties and permit the corruption of law in the process.

This vigilance is necessary.

Ms. Jane Winter of Human Rights Watch, an independent NGO, recently stated:

“Friends in N.I., the U.S., and the Republic shouldn’t take their eye off the ball [the GFA] …especially those in the U.S. who made …[the Agreement] … possible and kept it alive. Their scrutiny is vital to insuring that N.I. doesn’t slip back into undeclared war.”

Former Senator George Mitchell stated it more succinctly at a public symposium in NYC recently: “It is not over!”

As you know, the Chairs of the Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affair and the Friends of Ireland have recently expressed similar concerns for progress on the peace pact and the mischievous nature of the MLAT request.

We hope the Committee will consider these issues and choose to shed more light on the subject with public hearings.

If there are any questions or we can provide further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

As always we will be happy to meet at any time to discuss this further.

We have attached our most recent letters to Attorney General Holder and Secretary Kerry.

Sincerely,

Mr. Brendan Moore
National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians

Mr. Sean Downes Esq.
President
Brehon Law Society

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

cc: Senator Bob Corker, R.M.

LETTER: Secretary of State John Kerry Asked to Intervene on Boston College Subpoenas

ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS
BREHON LAW SOCIETY
IRISH AMERICAN UNITY CONFERENCE

June 5, 2013

Mr. John Kerry
Secretary of State
Office of the Secretary
U. S. Department of State
2201 C St NW
Washington, D. C 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry:

As you know, the litigation challenge to the British subpoena request for records held in the Irish archives of Boston College is near an end.

However, Britain’s misuse of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and the broader policy implications if the subpoena request is granted are still of great concern to us.

As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee you were the first Member of Congress to register objections to the sealed subpoenas with Attorney General Holder and with your predecessor Secretary of State Clinton.

Your fears for the Irish peace process, progress on the Belfast Agreement, truth and reconciliation, academic inquiry and constitutional liberties are as valid now as they were when you expressed them in January, 2012.

This is an American issue.

It is in America’s best interest to not enforce but return the subpoenas to the United Kingdom.

At a recent congressional hearing, Representative Chris Smith, the Co-Chair of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, spoke of Britain’s refusal to hold anyone accountable for the murder of Patrick Finucane stating, “…the decision not to proceed with the public inquiry is a glaring public breach of faith …calling into question the British government’s commitment to peace and reconciliation.”

Indeed, Mr. Secretary, you have correctly identified this subpoena issue as another example of how Britain is slowly and systematically disassembling the Belfast Treaty.

These are but two of many examples of how the Cameron government is abusing America’s trust, mocking our commitment to the Belfast Agreement and damaging our credibility with other nations.

During Secretary Clinton’s term we met twice on this issue with State officials.

Mr. Jake Sullivan and Mr. William Gill were present but were unable or unwilling to answer our most basic questions.

They seemed unfamiliar with the progress of the Irish peace process and were unfamiliar with any of the reports of the Committee for the Administration of Justice which depict in great detail how Great Britain is observing neither the letter nor the spirit of the 1998 Belfast Agreement (as amended).

We hope that your familiarity with this issue and long association with the workings of the peace process will mean a fresh examination of the facts and a fresh approach.

As you know, the Secretary of State has a key role to play in any U.S. response to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) request, and your objections to the satisfaction of these Boston College subpoenas must be weighed by Attorney General Holder before complying and submitting any documents obtained by him.

We include our letter to the Attorney General citing what we view is a misuse and misapplication of the treaty’s purpose particularly where it conflicts with the spirit of the 1998 Agreement and representations made to you in the Senate during ratification of the U.S.-U.K. Extradition Treaty in 2006.

Your former colleagues in Congress who also have joined the subpoena opposition reflect our determined attempt to garner bi-partisan support to stop their enforcement.

Indeed, the Co-Chairs of the Ad Hoc Committee of Irish Affairs, Representatives Chris Smith and Peter King, as well as the Co-Chairs of the Friends of Ireland, Representatives Richard Neal and Joseph Crowley, have recently adopted resolutions reiterating their concerns for the Good Friday Agreement and citing the failure of the British government to abide by its terms particularly with respect to the Finucane murder.

Neal and Crowley have specifically expressed their opposition to the subpoenas and their potential to undermine the Irish peace process.

Last year many Member of Congress voiced their opposition to the Russian killing of attorney Sergei Magnitsky and then affirmed their commitment to the rule of law and justice by adopting statutory sanctions against those identified as responsible.

Such a measure may not be necessary in the Finucane case but America can underscore its commitment to the Irish peace process, the rule of law and justice by withholding any support of the MLAT subpoena request unless and until the Good Friday Agreements terms are respected and fulfilled.

We renew our request to meet at any time to discuss this further or answer any questions you may have.

Sincerely,

Mr. Brendan Moore
National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians

Mr. Sean Downes Esq.
President
Brehon Law Society

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

LETTER: Irish American Groups Against Subpoenas Want Action From Eric Holder

ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS
BREHON LAW SOCIETY
IRISH AMERICAN UNITY CONFERENCE

June 4, 2013

Mr. Eric H. Holder Jr.
Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
U. S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D. C. 20510

Dear Attorney General Holder:

The litigation challenging the U.K. subpoena of records in the Irish archives of Boston College is at an end. The First Circuit Court of Appeals severely restricted the scope of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) subpoena of the British government. This is a partial vindication of the litigants appeal and a rejection of the rubber-stamping of the subpoena request by your Department.

We have argued that the subpoena request of Britain is a misuse of the MLAT process which you must reject pursuant to three justifications provided for in the ratification documents.

Those reasons are:

  • To grant the request would impair the essential interests of the U.S.;
  • To do so would be contrary to important policy considerations; and
  • The request is based on an offense of a political character.

Secretary of State Kerry has publicly specified that to grant the request would undermine the 1998 Belfast Agreement and representations made during the Senate ratification of the 2006 U.S.-U.K. Extradition Agreement.

The Secretary also expressed concern for the threat the subpoenas posed to constitutional freedoms and academic inquiry.

With respect to the political character of this request, you need only reference the decisions of federal jurist Naomi Rice Buchwald, Judge Juan Torruella of the First circuit Court of Appeals as well as British policy in effect in 1972.

In addition to the above considerations, we believe granting England’s request after their admission of murdering attorney Patrick Finucane offends every American’s sense of the rule of law and justice.

We again ask for you to reject the MLAT request.

We again ask to meet with you to discuss this matter further.

We hope and trust you will have the courtesy to dignify our request and promptly respond to our arguments with specificity.

Sincerely,

Mr. Brendan Moore
National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians

Mr. Sean Downes Esq.
President
Brehon Law Society

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

 

 

Irish American Groups Fighting BC Subpoenas Seek Action from Holder, Kerry, and Menendez

Irish American Groups Fighting BC Subpoenas Seek Action from Holder, Kerry, and Menendez
ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS
BREHON LAW SOCIETY
IRISH AMERICAN UNITY CONFERENCE
NYC, NY & Denver, Colorado
June 10th

With legal options winding down on the British request for Boston College records, the three largest Irish-American groups have stepped up appeals to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The First circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed earlier rulings on the Attorney General’s issuance of the subpoenas but substantially reduced the scope of records which must be produced.

The National President of the Irish American Unity Conference, attorney Thomas J. Burke of Denver, CO stated:

“We certainly want the Attorney General to determine first whether this request is a valid use of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), and secondly, to use the discretion provided under the MLAT to deny the UK the requested records.”

“It is important that Mr. Holder seek the advice of Secretary of State John Kerry,” indicated Brendan Moore, National President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, “as provided for in the Treaty, and for Secretary Kerry to document his concerns for the Irish peace process should any records be turned over to Great Britain.”

Concluded Sean Downes, President of the Brehon Law Society:

“As has been noted recently by a review of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, there are reasons to question the British commitment to the pact, especially with regard to the failure to hold an independent inquiry into the murder of N.I. civil rights attorney Patrick Finucane.

It is time for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee to review not only the progress or lack thereof on the 1998 Belfast Treaty, but to explore the workings of the U.S.-U.K. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and the real purpose of these British subpoenas for records held at Boston College.”

The leaders remain steadfast in their belief that resolute action by the United States will demonstrate its commitment to the success of the GFA and to the integrity of the MLAT process.

The British subpoena request undermines both treaties and should be withdrawn.


June 4, 2013 Letter to Eric Holder

June 5, 2013 Letter to John Kerry

June 8, 2013 Letter to Robert Menendez

Court Releases Only Some BC Interviews from ‘Belfast Project’

Court Releases Only Some BC Interviews from ‘Belfast Project’
By Brett Snider, Esq.
June 11, 2013
FindLaw First Circuit News and Information Blog

In a decision penned in late May, the First Circuit ordered the release of a limited amount of interviews from the “Belfast Project” to the British authorities.

The “Belfast Project” is a Boston College compilation of personal interviews and testimonials from former Irish Republican Army members, and in 2011 the British government successfully subpoenaed BC for 85 of those taped interviews and transcripts for a criminal investigation.

The Court only released 11 of the interviews, in an interesting conflict of United States-United Kingdom treaty and academic integrity.

Academic Privilege

The First Circuit made no bones about saying that the “academic privilege” or breaking of confidentiality by responding to a criminal subpoena is “not by itself a cognizable First Amendment or common law injury.” Branzburg v. Hayes, a Supreme Court case, established that even reporters cannot use the aegis of theFirst Amendment to deny a grand jury subpoena or answering questions for a criminal investigation.

Branzburg seems to apply here, and the First Circuit agrees; a criminal investigation over possible murder trumps a First Amendment privilege to keep your sources confidential.

The Treaty

The subpoena was made under the power of the US-UK Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters Treaty (US-UK MLAT) of 1996, which empowers the UK to have the U.S. provide “documents, records, and evidence.”

The government argued that only the Attorney General has the power to deny a request under US-UK MLAT, but the Court rejected this argument, stating that enforcing subpoenas is “an exercise in judicial power,” much like the Ninth Circuit did with a US-Russia MLAT.

A treaty can’t undo the federal court’s power to review and enforce subpoenas, and it would be an imbalance in powers to allow the Attorney General plenary discretion in this area.

Only Relevant Interviews

The subpoena in question requested information relevant to the abduction and death of Mrs. Jean McConville, a woman who was an alleged casualty of the 1970s-era struggle between the IRA and the British government in Ireland.

After re-reviewing these interview tapes in camera, the In re Dolours Price Court found that only 11 of the taped interviews were relevant to the subpoena, and denied the subpoena with respect to the other 74, citing abuse of discretion.

Whether this will seriously implicate any of the subjects on the tape in a crime remains to be seen, but the BC researchers see this as a victory, knowing that British and Northern Ireland authorities will not get the ‘show trial’ of IRA members that they wanted, reports The Boston Globe.

Related Resources: