Attempt to access former IRA man’s Boston College tapes ‘replete with errors’ court told

Attempt to access former IRA man’s Boston College tapes ‘replete with errors’ court told
Lawyers for Anthony McIntyre and a senior judge both identified errors in the request letter setting out alleged offences under police investigation
Alan Erwin
Irish Times
January 16, 2018

A transatlantic process to obtain a former IRA man’s confidential interviews with an American university project was “replete with errors”, the High Court in Belfast heard today.

Lawyers for Anthony McIntyre and a senior judge both identified errors in the request letter setting out alleged offences under police investigation.

McIntyre is locked in a legal battle to stop detectives obtaining taped recordings of his participation in the Boston College project.

Reserving judgment following a series of hearings, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said: “We want to consider the voluminous papers and recent submissions.”

McIntyre was one of the main researchers in the initiative to compile an oral history of the conflict in Northern Ireland. Dozens of loyalists and republicans provided testimonies on the understanding their accounts would remain confidential while they are alive. But those assurances were dealt a blow after police secured transcripts and tapes of interviews given by former IRA woman Dolours Price and high-profile loyalist Winston “Winkie” Rea.

Now detectives want access to McIntyre’s recorded recollection of his own IRA activities as part of investigations into alleged terrorist offences stretching back more than 40 years.

A subpoena seeking copies of his interviews was served on Boston College by the British government.

The move involved an International Letter of Request (ILOR) setting out alleged offences being probed, including a bomb explosion at Rugby Avenue in Belfast in 1976, and membership of a proscribed organisation.

Although the tapes were released and flown from America, they remain under seal within the court until the legal challenge is determined.

McIntyre, who is from Belfast but now lives in the Republic, is seeking to judicially review the PSNI and Public Prosecution Service (PPS) for issuing an ILOR his lawyers claim is littered with inaccuracies. They insisted that he was the victim in the bombing, and that he was acquitted of the membership charge that features in the ILOR.

Other alleged mistakes said to feature in the letter include an armed robbery incident for which McIntyre was never convicted.

As final submissions were made in court today, another of the three judges, Sir Reg Weir, stressed the importance of accuracy in the documents. “This is replete with errors,” he said.

Counsel for the respondents was pressed for confirmation on exactly when the explosion under investigation had occurred.

Sir Reg continued: “You would think police would know what date the bomb went off, this wasn’t a case about a stolen bicycle.”

Peter Coll QC, representing the PPS, replied that bombings were not a rare occurrence in Belfast at the time.

He insisted that any mistaken information in the original correspondence had been corrected and regularised.

Mr Coll also rejected any suggestion that police and prosecutors were pretending to investigate the Rugby Avenue incident as an act of “subterfuge” to gain access to McIntyre’s Boston College tapes.

Instead, he contended, the former IRA man’s legal case was “built on sand”. According to the barrister the legal challenge amounted to a suggestion that the court should supervise a police investigation.

“That is wrong and should not be encouraged,” he said.

But Ronan Lavery QC, for McIntyre, insisted the ILOR should have been withdrawn because of the amount of errors within it.

He also submitted: “It’s striking, considering the budget difficulties on investigations which are live, have never been resolved and in which there are victims, that police time and money should be spent on investigating crimes of this vintage of someone who has already served a lengthy term in prison.

“One wonders how this has been prioritised in this way.”

Boston Tapes: Deadline set in ex-IRA man Anthony McIntyre case

Boston Tapes: Deadline set in ex-IRA man Anthony McIntyre case
BBC News
13 November 2017

Police and prosecutors have been given two weeks to provide reasons why recorded interviews with a former IRA man should not be sent back to America.

High Court judges sitting in Belfast set the deadline in Anthony McIntyre’s legal battle against police accessing his “Boston tapes”.

The tapes are candid interviews with loyalist and republican paramilitaries held in a library at Boston College.

Dozens of loyalists and republicans provided testimonies to the college.

They spoke on the understanding that their stories would remain confidential while they were alive.

But those assurances were dealt a blow after police secured transcripts and tapes of interviews given by former IRA woman Dolours Price and high-profile loyalist Winston “Winkie” Rea.

Now the PSNI wants access to Anthony McIntyre’s recorded recollections as part of investigations into alleged terrorist offences stretching back more than 40 years.

He was one of the main researchers in the project to compile an oral history of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

A subpoena seeking copies of his interviews was served on Boston College by the Government.

It concerned an International Letter of Request (ILOR) setting out alleged offences, including a bomb explosion at Rugby Avenue in Belfast in 1976 and membership of a proscribed organisation.

The tapes were released and flown from America, but they remain under seal within the court pending the judges’ ruling.

Anthony McIntyre, who is from Belfast but now lives in the Republic of Ireland, is seeking to judicially review the PSNI and Public Prosecution Service (PPS) for issuing an ILOR which, his lawyers say, is “replete with errors”.

They insist that he was the victim in the bombing and that he was acquitted of the membership charge that features in the ILOR.

Written submissions

As the case returned to court on Monday, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan referred to defects and inaccuracies said to feature in the letter – including an armed robbery for which Anthony McIntyre was never convicted.

Despite the prosecution’s submissions that those mistakes were highlighted, Sir Declan expressed uncertainly about how the process was dealt with in America.

“We don’t know what happened as a result of the corrective steps taken by the PPS,” Sir Declan said.

He put it to the parties: “Should we not act in accordance with the law and send the material back?”

Following deliberations with his two judicial colleagues, the Lord Chief Justice confirmed the fortnight’s deadline.

He told the PPS and PSNI that they must lodge any further written submission within two weeks as to why it should be presumed that defects within the ILOR were regularised.

The court will then deliver judgment or list the case for a further hearing in January.

Boston College Tapes: Anthony McIntyre seeking to cross-examine police

Boston College Tapes: Anthony McIntyre seeking to cross-examine police
By Alan Erwin
Belfast Telegraph
May 26 2017

A former IRA man battling to stop detectives obtaining his interviews for an American university project is to seek to cross-examine police and prosecution representatives.

Counsel for Anthony McIntyre confirmed the move in the High Court on Friday as part of attempts to demonstrate alleged bad faith in the process.

Cross-examination of witnesses rarely occurs in judicial review proceedings.

But McIntyre’s legal team claim police attempts to gain access to the Boston College tape recordings are nothing more than a fishing exercise.

Earlier this week they secured an order for disclosure of correspondence from the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to authorities in the United States.

The ex-republican prisoner wants to know if a US court dealing with the case received his affidavit denying involvement in alleged terrorist offences under investigation.

He is seeking to judicially review the PPS and Police Service of Northern Ireland for issuing an International Letter of Request (ILOR) over recordings held in Boston.

During a brief hearing today his barrister, Ronan Lavery QC, told Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan he will now be applying for permission to cross-examine those involved in the ILOR process.

McIntyre, who is from Belfast but now lives in the Irish Republic, was a researcher on the project to compile an oral history of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Dozens of loyalists and republicans provided testimonies to the college on the understanding their account would only be made public after they died.

But those assurances were dealt a blow when legal challenges resulted in police securing transcripts and tapes of interviews given by former IRA woman Dolours Price and high-profile loyalist Winston “Winkie” Rea.

Rea, 66, from Groomsport, Co Down, has been charged in connection with the murders of two Catholic workmen in Belfast more than 25 years ago.

Now the authorities are seeking access to McIntyre’s recorded recollection of his own IRA activities.
Detectives want the material as part of their investigation into alleged terrorist offences stretching back more than 40 years.

A subpoena seeking copies of his interviews was served on Boston College by the British government.

The move involves an ILOR setting out alleged offences being probed, including a bomb explosion at Rugby Avenue in Belfast in 1976, and membership of a terrorist organisation.

However, the former IRA man’s legal team claimed he was the victim in the bombing, and that he was acquitted of the membership charge that features in the ILOR.

They insist the letter is replete with serious inaccuracies and have pressed for answers on whether his affidavit clarifying the situation was forwarded to American authorities.

Ex-Provo in Boston tapes row can examine PPS files

Ex-Provo in Boston tapes row can examine PPS files
Correspondence on Anthony McIntyre sent by the Public Prosecution Service to the authorities in the US must be disclosed to his lawyers
By Alan Erwin
Belfast Telegraph
May 25 2017

Transatlantic legal correspondence must be disclosed to a former IRA man battling to stop police obtaining his interviews for an American university project, the High Court has ordered.

Senior judges ruled that Anthony McIntyre’s legal team should see material sent from the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to authorities in the US.

The direction came as the bid to gain access to the Boston College tape recordings was branded a “fishing exercise”.

McIntyre wants to know if a US court dealing with the case received his affidavit denying involvement in alleged terrorist offences under investigation.

He is seeking to judicially review the PPS and PSNI for issuing an International Letter of Request (ILOR) over recordings held in Boston.

McIntyre, who is from Belfast but now lives in the Republic, was one of the main researchers in a major project to compile an oral history of the Troubles. Former paramilitaries provided testimonies on the understanding they would only be made public after they died.

But those assurances were dealt a blow when legal battles resulted in police securing transcripts and tapes of interviews given by former IRA woman Dolours Price and high-profile loyalist Winston ‘Winkie’ Rea. Rea (66) from Groomsport, Co Down, has been charged in connection with the murders of two Catholics.

Now the authorities want access to McIntyre’s recorded recollection of his own IRA activities.

A subpoena seeking copies of his interviews was served on Boston College by the British government.

The move involves an ILOR setting out alleged offences being probed, including a bomb explosion at Rugby Avenue in Belfast in 1976, and membership of a terrorist organisation. However, the former IRA man’s legal team claimed he was the victim in the bombing, and that he was acquitted of the membership charge that features in the ILOR.

They insist the letter is replete with serious inaccuracies and have pressed for answers on whether his affidavit clarifying the situation was forwarded to American authorities.

Barrister Ronan Lavery QC said: “The proposition that he was a perpetrator of this bomb on Rugby Avenue, rather than actually being the victim, is such a serious error – an error isn’t the word for it.”

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan directed discovery of some of the material sought to be made by Friday.

Former IRA man clears hurdle in legal battle over Boston College tapes

Former IRA man clears hurdle in legal battle over Boston College tapes
Alan Erwin
Belfast Telegraph
19/09/2016

A former IRA man interviewed for an American university project has cleared the first stage in a legal battle to stop police accessing his confidential tapes.

Anthony McIntyre was granted leave to seek to judicially review the PSNI and Public Prosecution Service for issuing an International Letter of Request (ILOR) over recordings held at Boston College.

Detectives want the material as part of their investigation into alleged terrorist offences stretching back 40 years.

But senior judges in Belfast ruled today that they were not yet satisfied information in the request for international co-operation had been “scrupulously” examined.

The case will now proceed to a full hearing in November.

McIntyre, who is from Belfast but now lives in the Irish Republic, was one of the main researchers in a major project to compile an oral history of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Dozens of loyalists and republicans provided testimonies to Boston College on the understanding their account would only be made public after they died.

But those assurances were dealt a blow when legal battles resulted in police securing transcripts and tapes of interviews given by former IRA woman Dolours Price and high-profile loyalist Winston “Winkie” Rea.

Rea, 65, from Groomsport, Co Down, has been charged with the murders of two Catholic workmen in Belfast more than 25 years ago.

Now the authorities want access to McIntyre’s recorded recollection of his own IRA activities.

A subpoena seeking copies of his interviews has been served on Boston College by the British government.

The move involves an ILOR setting out alleged offences being probed, including a bomb explosion at Rugby Avenue in Belfast in 1976, and membership of a terrorist organisation.

Counsel for the former IRA man claimed he was the victim in the bombing, and that he was acquitted of the membership charge that features in the ILOR.

Accusing police of mounting a fishing expedition, Ronan Lavery QC said: “The letter itself is replete with errors, which we say are misleading and require an explanation.”

With leave to apply for a judicial review granted, fuller arguments will be advanced at the main
hearing.

Lord Justices Weatherup and Weir were also told Boston College has now released the tapes to authorities in America.

But the judges stressed that if PSNI officers travel to Massachusetts to retrieve the recordings they must remain under seal and be stored with the court until the challenge is decided.

Outside court a legal representative with McIntyre’s solicitors, KRW Law, said: “These matters should be properly and fully investigated before these international letters of request are issued.

“We agree with the judges view that these matters should be scrupulously attended to, and it’s our view that this has not happened in this case.”

McIntyre loses IRA tapes case

McIntyre loses IRA tapes case
UTV News
Tuesday, 02 October 2012

A former IRA volunteer-turned-writer has lost his High Court bid to prevent police taking possession of his interviews with a convicted bomber.

Anthony McIntyre was seeking to restrain disclosure of confidential archived material compiled for a history project at Boston College in the United States.

PSNI detectives wanted access to all interviews he carried out with Dolours Price as part of their investigation into the 1972 murder of Belfast woman Jean McConville, one of the so-called Disappeared.

Mr McIntyre claimed releasing the tapes and transcripts to police would put him under greater threat of being killed by dissident republicans who would perceive it as a betrayal of the IRA’s code of silence.

However, a judge dismissed his case after a senior detective stated he was not aware of any current, increased risk to the researcher due to his work on the project.

Mr Justice Treacy said: “In light of the unequivocal response from the PSNI, supported by the threat assessment from the security authorities, I conclude that the applicant has failed to make out an arguable case that disclosure of the Boston College tapes would, as he claimed, materially increase the risk to his life or that of his family.”

Loyalist and republican paramilitaries gave interviews to Mr McIntyre and journalist Ed Moloney for the college’s Belfast Project, an examination of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Those who took part included Price, who was jailed for her part in a bomb attack on the Old Bailey in London in 1973.

Recordings were carried out on the understanding that they would only be made public once interviewees had died.

However, the US courts have ruled that the Price interviews should be handed over to the PSNI.

The court heard Mr Moloney has stated that his research colleague’s interviews with Price contain nothing relevant to the Jean McConville murder investigation.

Lawyers for Mr McIntyre argued that his Article 2 right to life under the European Convention on Human Rights trumped the PSNI’s legal obligation to investigate murder.

But Mr Justice Treacy ruled that the former IRA man’s rights cannot prohibit police from seeking or receiving material relevant to a serious, live criminal inquiry.

“Investigating murder and gathering relevant material is not only a requirement of domestic law, but it is also a requirement of the positive duty which Article 2 imposes upon contracting States,” he said.

Rejecting Mr McIntyre’s application for judicial review, the judge added: “On the applicant’s case the PSNI is prohibited from receiving material no matter how probative – even a confession to murder if it exists – because of the risk from the IRA, dissident or otherwise.

“The very notion that a risk generated by the perpetrators or their associates could require the PSNI, or indeed the Court, to effectively suppress material potentially relevant to murder is fundamentally inconsistent with the very nature of the rule of law and Article 2 itself.”

Despite the ruling, the PSNI will not yet automatically gain access to the tapes. Lawyers for Mr McIntyre are expected to lodge an appeal against Mr Justice Treacy’s decision.

Meanwhile, any handover of the material has also been put on hold by the courts in America, pending a further hearing before the US Supreme Court.

Mr McIntyre’s solicitor, Kevin Winters, confirmed: “We have consulted with our client and we are set to appeal.

“We also welcome the stay that has been granted in the American courts because it prevents the handover of the tapes.

“That decision assists Mr McIntyre while he deals with the outstanding appeal issues arising from today’s judgment.”

Boston College tapes: ‘writer not making big profit’

Boston College tapes: ‘writer not making big profit’
21 September 2012
BBC News

A former IRA volunteer-turned-writer has made no big profit from his interviews with a convicted bomber, the High Court has heard.

Counsel for Anthony McIntyre also accused police of being “passive, bordering on cavalier” over the alleged increased threat to him.

Police are seeking access to his interviews with Dolours Price.

They are investigating the 1972 murder of Jean McConville, one of the so-called Disappeared.

Mr McIntyre spoke to Old Bailey bomber Price for a history project at Boston College in the United States.

‘Cavalier’

He is challenging the legal bid to obtain the transcripts of interview tapes, claiming it will put his life in greater danger from dissident republicans.

A PSNI lawyer had argued that releasing the recordings and transcripts would not heighten the risk to Mr McIntyre.

Mr Justice Treacy was told threat assessments were carried out and came back negative.

But Mr McIntyre’s barrister, David Scoffield QC, contended that the PSNI position was “completely untenable”.

He said: “It shows the extremely passive approach taken by the police on this issue, bordering on a cavalier approach.

“They have a single approach and really are intent on proceeding with their (application) without any proper regard for the consequences.”

Loyalist and republican paramilitaries gave interviews to Mr McIntyre and journalist Ed Moloney for Boston College’s Belfast Project, an examination of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Recordings were carried out on the understanding that they would only be made public once interviewees had died.

However, the US courts have ruled that the Price interviews should be handed over to the PSNI.

During the hearing in Belfast Mr McIntyre’s resistance to disclosing the tapes was questioned, given that a book has already been published by Mr Moloney, Voices From The Grave, based in interviews with other ex-paramilitaries for the same project.

Competing

Mr Scoffield contended that a number of “assumptions” have been wrongly made.

He said: “Firstly that Mr McIntyre was directly involved in the Voices From The Grave publication. That is not correct.

“And that he is in some way making a large amount of money from this endeavour. That is not correct.”

At one point the judge questioned whether it was open to the court to rule against the police if it would impede on their legal obligation to investigate a murder.

Mr Scoffield responded that the competing rights had to be balanced.

“The right of someone continuing to live here and now must trump the investigation into a past death,” he argued.

Judgment on the preliminary stage of Mr McIntyre’s application for judicial review was reserved.

A temporary injunction restraining the PSNI from taking possession of the interviews remains in place pending the outcome of the case.

Tapes wanted by PSNI ‘do not mention murder’

Tapes wanted by PSNI ‘do not mention murder’
Suzanne Breen
Belfast Telegraph
September 21, 2012

A former Boston College researcher will today tell a court that no mention was made of murder victim Jean McConville in the taped interview at the centre of a massive legal row.

The PSNI has launched a transatlantic courtroom battle to obtain the tape in which ex-IRA bomber Dolours Price allegedly admitted involvement in Mrs McConville’s disappearance and claimed the killing was ordered by Gerry Adams.

But Anthony McIntyre, the ex-IRA member who interviewed Price for the Boston project, will today tell Belfast High Court that she never even mentioned the murdered mother of ten’s name once.

In an affidavit lodged in the court and seen by the Belfast Telegraph, Mr McIntyre states: “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Ms Price did not mention the case of Jean McConville during the interviews I conducted with her.”

The PSNI legal bid began last year after allegations that Price had recorded admissions regarding the murder in her Boston College interview.

Mr McIntyre said when he read the report, “I was astounded as I know that she had made no such record.”

The Price tape is currently in the possession of the US courts. Subpoenas were served on Boston College in May 2011 by the US Attorney General on behalf of the PSNI.

McIntyre’s claim raises questions that the PSNI’s costly legal battle pursuing the tape may turn out to be a wild goose chase.

It could mean the McConville family’s hopes that securing the tape will bring justice for their mother, and see her killers’ prosecuted, may also be dashed.

Mrs McConville, a widow, was abducted from her West Belfast home in 1972 and driven across the border where she was shot dead and secretly buried by the IRA as an alleged “informer”.

Mr McIntyre’s solicitor, Kevin Winters, said: “Very serious and sensitive issues have been raised by this case and we hope that further scrutiny at today’s hearing will assist in resolving these.”

Mr McIntyre’s evidence supports that of former Boston College project director, journalist Ed Moloney.

In an affidavit presented to the court, which has been seen by the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Moloney said the project’s interviewees were promised nothing they said would be revealed until after their deaths.

“However, I believe (it is) time to reveal what the interviews did not disclose,” the journalist stated. “In her interviews with Anthony McIntyre, Dolours Price did not once mention the name ‘Jean McConville’.

“The subject of that unfortunate woman’s disappearance was never mentioned. Nor so were the allegations that Dolours Price was involved in any other disappearance carried out by the IRA in Belfast, nor that she received orders to disappear people from Gerry Adams.”

Mr Moloney stated that the interviews with Price lacked “any material that could ever have justified the subpoenas”.

The journalist claimed the PSNI’s actions “may well amount to an abuse of process”. Dozens of ex-loyalist and republican paramilitaries were interviewed for the Boston College oral history project between 2001 and 2006.

They were promised their interviews wouldn’t be released until after their death and the tapes were stored in the college.

The only two interviews so far published have been those of ex-Belfast Brigade IRA commander Brendan Hughes and former UVF member and PUP leader David Ervine. The republicans were interviewed by Anthony McIntyre and the loyalists by Wilson McArthur.

Boston College Subpoenas Caused By Journalist’s Lies and PSNI Failings

Boston College Subpoenas Caused By Journalist’s Lies and PSNI Failings
Statement by Ed Moloney, former Director, The Belfast Project, Boston College
Press Statement For Belfast Court Hearing
September 14th 2012

PREAMBLE

When the US government served subpoenas on Boston College’s Belfast Project archive in May 2011 on behalf of the PSNI, the subsequent legal challenge was led by Boston College and the strategy was decided by the College’s leaders in consultation with their lawyers. These were not our lawyers, nor our strategy.

Eventually, dissatisfaction with the Boston College strategy persuaded us to break from them and to hire our own attorneys, Eamonn Dornan and Jim Cotter and to devise our own strategy in consultation with them. We had important, perhaps decisive things to say but we needed to say them in a court of law where we had a chance of overturning the subpoenas.

We had been trying to get the go-ahead from a US court to intervene at which point we could make these arguments public during a decisive hearing in an American court. So far we have not succeeded. Now that there is a possibility of a Judicial Review being held in Belfast we believe that this moment has come. Accordingly, I have sworn an affidavit for the Belfast court this morning summarizing the essential facts and my statement below goes into far more detail.

BOSTON COLLEGE SUBPOENA WAS BASED ON A JOURNALIST’S LIE & PSNI FAILINGS

When this research project at Boston College (BC) began we gave interviewees a pledge that nothing of what they said would be revealed until their deaths. I intend to keep that promise.

But the pledge did not cover what the interviewees did not say.

I now wish to make the following facts public: in her interviews with BC researcher, Anthony McIntyre, Dolours Price did not once mention the name Jean McConville. The subject of that unfortunate woman’s disappearance is not even mentioned. Not once. Neither are the allegations that Dolours Price was involved in any other disappearance carried out by the IRA in Belfast, nor that she received orders to disappear people from Gerry Adams or any other IRA figure. None of this is in her interviews with Anthony McIntyre.

The subpoena served in May 2011 by the US government on behalf of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) seeking her interviews, which was followed in August by other subpoenas seeking more interviews from the BC archive, was based upon a false newspaper report in Northern Ireland published in February 2010 alleging that she had talked about the disappearance of Jean McConville to Anthony McIntyre for the BC project.

The McIntyre-Price-BC interviews are the wellspring for this extensive legal action carried out by the British and American governments, a legal action that could do irreparable harm to the peace process in Northern Ireland, irretrievably reduce academic and media freedoms in the United States and imperil the lives of researchers and interviewees alike.

In this document I will provide evidence to show that the PSNI failed in its basic duty of establishing the reliability and credibility of the false newspaper report until fifteen months after the article had appeared and after the subpoenas had been served on BC. There is a responsibility on a police force in such circumstances to seek evidence firstly from the sources that are nearest to hand, what the American legal system calls “the least sensitive source”. This the PSNI did not do.

I will show that the PSNI moved to check the newspaper material or gather evidence only after I had placed on legal record with the District Court in Boston my belief that the basis for the subpoena was flawed and that the taped interview referred to was not from BC but was made by the Belfast daily newspaper, The Irish News. The evidence I now present establishes beyond any doubt that the first subpoena was deeply flawed.

The United States Department of Justice presumably believed that the PSNI had carried out due diligence before embarking on the subpoena route but in that respect it was either mistaken or misled. This was an egregious abuse by the PSNI of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between the US and the UK which facilitated these subpoenas. Under the terms of the MLAT, myself and Anthony McIntyre were barred from opposing the action in court. This abuse of the MLAT by the PSNI demonstrates beyond peradventure the need for Congress to urgently rewrite these treaties to prevent a future similar injustice.

I will now describe the background to the false newspaper article that began this legal nightmare.

THE IRISH NEWS – THE SUNDAY LIFE

The newspaper report that began the saga of the BC subpoenas appeared in The Sunday Life, a popular tabloid circulated in Northern Ireland, on February 21st, 2010 under the by-line of Ciaran Barnes. The report, splashed on the front page and continued inside, alleged that Dolours Price had been involved in the McConville disappearance and several other similar events and had admitted all this in a tape recorded interview.

The article went on to claim that Dolours Price had given taped interviews to what Barnes called “Boston University” and he told his readers that he had heard tape recordings in which Dolours Price confessed her role. The piece was written in such a way as to lead the average reader to conclude that she had made these admissions on tape to BC and that Ciaran Barnes had listened to them; this assumption was subsequently shared by the PSNI and the US Department of Justice.

To quote Ciaran Barnes’ report: “Price recently gave a series of interviews to academics from Boston University (sic) about her role in the IRA. These include admissions about her role in transporting some of the disappeared to their deaths. The interviews were given on the basis that they will not be published until after her death”, and “Price, who has made taped confessions of her role in the abductions to academics at Boston University, will relay this information to Independent Commission for Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) investigators later this week”. And also: “Sunday Life has heard tape recordings made by Price in which she details the allegations against Adams and confesses her own involvement in a series of murders and secret burials”.

Ciaran Barnes’ report featured centrally in the US government’s defence of the subpoenas when the action was challenged in the Federal District Court by BC. Here is what the US Attorney for Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz had to say in her July 2011 submission:

“Ms Price’s interviews by BC were the subjects of news reports published in Northern Ireland in 2010, in which Ms Price admitted her involvement in the murder and “disappearances” of at least four persons which the IRA targeted: Jean McConville, Joe Lynskey, Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee. See Exhibits 1 and 2. Moreover, according to one news report, the reporter was permitted to listen to portions of Ms Price’s BC interviews.”

In other words the official US Government stance was that The Sunday Life reporter, Ciaran Barnes had listened to Dolours Price’s interview with BC and had heard her confessing to the disappearance of Jean McConville and others. Presumably this is what the PSNI told the US government and presumably the US government believed it. The subpoenas served against BC were therefore justified, the US government argued.

The truth is that the interviews that Anthony McIntyre conducted with Dolours Price are notable for the absence of any material that could ever have justified the subpoenas. In this respect it is worth remembering that when she was interviewed by McIntyre, Dolours Price was given the same confidentiality assurances as other interviewees, which was that whatever she said would not be revealed until her death. As the interviews with Brendan Hughes, later published in the book Voices From The Grave, graphically demonstrate this enabled interviewees to speak freely, fully and candidly and to talk honestly about their lives in the IRA.

(Incidentally all this nails the lie that the Belfast Project was established to “Get Gerry Adams” as people like Niall O’Dowd and Danny Morrison have alleged. As this episode demonstrates, no interviewees were ever put under pressure to implicate him or anyone else in IRA activity.)

So what was the genesis of Ciaran Barnes’ shocking misreporting?

Three days before his report appeared, on February 18th 2010, The Irish News, Northern Ireland’s daily Nationalist newspaper, published a lengthy series of articles based on an interview with Dolours Price conducted in Dublin earlier that week by one of the paper’s senior reporters, Allison Morris. The front page lead carried the headline: “Dolours Price’s trauma over IRA disappeared”. The interview was tape recorded and it has been my consistent belief throughout this affair that the tape recording that Ciaran Barnes listened to and upon which he based his Sunday Life article was Allison Morris’ tape. It certainly could not have been BC’s.

Some background is needed here. When Dolours Price’s family heard that she had given an interview to Allison Morris they were alarmed. She had a history of psychiatric problems and substance abuse. She has been diagnosed with PTSD, had been hospitalized repeatedly and was taking strong psychotropic drugs. Indeed on the day she spoke to Morris she was on day leave from St Patrick’s Psychiatric Hospital in Dublin. Her family believed that in her mental state, and because of her anger over Gerry Adams’ disavowal of the IRA, she was capable of saying literally anything and getting herself into undeserved trouble.

To cut a long story short the family intervened with the editor of The Irish News, Noel Doran and as a consequence the resulting story published by Doran was very restrained. There were no direct quotes from her and in relation to Jean McConville, the Irish News had just this to say: “Ms Price is also said to have been privy to details of the final days of mother-of-ten Jean McConville, whose remains have already been recovered”, and “She is believed to possess previously undisclosed information about at least four Disappeared victims.”

Most crucially of all, the Irish News couched its report in the context of Dolours Price taking the story of what she allegedly knew about the “disappeared” to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR), a body set up under the aegis of the peace process to deal with the vexed and troubling issue of victims ‘disappeared’ by the IRA. That was crucial because the ICLVR bestows immunity from prosecution and so Dolours Price would not be subjected to criminal prosecution as a result of anything she told the Commission. And The Irish News was careful not to implicate her directly in any criminal offence.

I would like to place on record my belief is that the editor of The Irish News, Noel Doran behaved properly in all this. But sadly, the same cannot be said for his reporter Allison Morris.

All would have been fine and I would not now be writing this statement and the courts in two jurisdictions would not have had their time taken up with the case of the BC subpoenas but for the fact that three days later, The Sunday Life took the story a stage further, adding garish and gruesome detail to The Irish News story and seemingly citing the BC interviews as the source for the story.

The immediate effect of Ciaran Barnes’ reportage was to make the immunity deal arranged by Noel Doran and the ICLVR redundant. Dolours Price could not be prosecuted for what she told the commission but she could face charges over what Ciaran Barnes’ claimed she had told BC.

So why do I believe that Ciaran Barnes got his story from Allison Morris?

Well, first of all it could not have come from Anthony McIntyre’s interview with Dolours Price because it does not mention Jean McConville at all nor any of the other people disappeared by the IRA at the same time. So the idea that Barnes listened to the BC tape and used it as a source for his story is a sheer impossibility.

Barnes does however say very distinctly that he did listen to “tape recordings made by Price” admitting to the Jean McConville and other disappearances. So a tape did exist. So whose tape was it? I believe it was Allison Morris’ tape not least because Irish News editor Noel Doran admitted that Morris had taped Dolours Price in the course of a lengthy debate with myself carried out in the columns of the Irish-American website, TheWildGeese.com during 2011. (Source: http://thewildgeeseblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/moloney-vs-irish-news-final-word.html )

He wrote: “As I have pointed out, Moloney himself could have solved this ‘mystery’ through one simple telephone call. We would have been happy to tell him that PSNI detectives did attempt to obtain the Irish News tape but were informed that we were no longer in possession of any such material.” (More about this further down)

So there was a tape of the Dolours Price interview. Given that we don’t know of any other interview that Dolours Price gave and that her interview with Anthony McIntyre made no mention of the material that made up the bulk of Ciaran Barnes’ report, suspicion must inevitably fall on Allison Morris as being the source. Barnes had to be quoting from Allison Morris’ tape because there was no other tape.

There were no quotes from Dolours Price in the Irish News report of her interview with Allison Morris and that was understandable, given the deal that had been struck between her family and the paper’s editor. But why no quotes in the Ciaran Barnes’ article? After all he had seemingly gotten access to a sensational exclusive, a tape recorded interview made by a respectable and credible American college revealing the background to one of the Troubles’ most notorious killings, so why not use direct quotes from the interview to substantiate and add credibility to his story. It is what nearly every journalist I know would do, and certainly what a reputable reporter would do. Nor was he restrained by any deal made by his source or the source’s family with his editor. But he didn’t. So why not?

Well put yourself in Ciaran Barnes’ shoes. He thinks he knows Dolours Price has given interviews to BC and he guesses that she must have covered the same ground as Allison Morris did, although he can’t know that for certain. But if he uses quotes from the Morris interview and pretends they came from BC then it will be a simple matter to prove he is lying by comparing the Boston interview with the quotes he publishes. If they don’t match then he is caught with his pants down. And once found out he and his paper could face legal retribution from one of America’s wealthiest colleges. Not a nice prospect; so far better to use no quotes.

The effect of The Sunday Life story was to add lustre and credibility to Allison Morris’ scoop and not long after the two stories appeared, Allison Morris won two prestigious journalistic prizes, the National Union of Journalists’ Regional Journalist of the Year and a similar award from the Society of British Regional Editors. For each prize she submitted a three-article portfolio, one of which was her interview with Dolours Price. Now regarded as one of The Irish News’ star reporters, Allison Morris and Ciaran Barnes have come a long way since they both worked together and became friends in the west Belfast weekly, The Andersonstown News.

THE PSNI AND THE DUE DILIGENCE FAILURE

As I was putting the pieces of this story together the Leveson Inquiry had begun hearing evidence about the hacking scandal involving Rupert Murdoch’s News International and I wrote a detailed email to Lord Leveson’s team asking that this episode be included in his investigation. I did so after taking legal advice and because his inquiry encompassed both the questionable practices of some journalists and the relationship between the media and the police.

Unfortunately, this was not possible; the Leveson team told me that the appropriate place for hearings into “who did what to whom” would be in Part Two of his Inquiry which will happen if and when police investigations and criminal prosecutions have taken place. So maybe on another day the behaviour of Ciaran Barnes and Allison Morris will come under proper scrutiny.

Aside from being an egregious case of media misbehavior, the reason I wanted Leveson to have a look at the Sunday Life-Irish News case was that the PSNI had seemingly made no effort to locate relevant material right on their doorstep – that is the Irish News interview with Dolours Price and the “tape” that Ciaran Barnes had claimed to have listened to. Instead they had ignored these local sources and opted instead to seek their evidence 3,000 miles away in Boston. Why?

In my June 2011 affidavit I made it clear that I believed that Dolours Price’s interview with Allison Morris had been taped and that the tape had been passed on to Ciaran Barnes in The Sunday Life. And I added that there was no way that Ciaran Barnes could have heard her BC interview. Without spelling out the reality that Dolours Price had not talked about Jean McConville in her interviews with Anthony McIntyre, my affidavit clearly said that the basis of the subpoenas was flawed.

When The Boston Globe published an editorial urging the college to hand over the tapes I emailed Tom Hachey, the head of the Irish Studies Center and the man in charge of the archive, asking if he or someone else from the college would respond. He did not reply, so myself and Anthony McIntyre asked The Boston Globe for the right to reply which they granted.

Our article, published on August 23rd, 2011 had this to say, inter alia:

“The subpoenas that have been served are based on an unproven assertion: that an interview given to the college by a former Irish Republican Army activist, Dolours Price, could shed light on a 40-year-old murder and should be surrendered.

“The truth, however, is that the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), on whose behalf US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz is acting, does not know what Dolours Price told BC’s interviewers. Neither does Ortiz.

“They do not know because the legal basis for the subpoenas is deeply flawed, the result of either rank incompetence or sleight of hand. The authorities have justified the action by claiming that an interview with Price published in a Belfast newspaper in February 2010 about the murder was derived from her BC interview, when in fact it was based on a separate taped interview given directly to the newspaper. Price’s interviews have never been released by BC and never would be – because a guarantee of confidentiality was given to every interviewee.

“What is happening is essentially an unwarranted fishing expedition into the college archives.”

It must be clear to the reader now why we wrote those words.

But the question remains, why had the PSNI not gone straight away to the source of those two stories in the Irish News and Sunday Life as soon as they were published? When I was subpoenaed in 1999 by Scotland Yard over the Billy Stobie case because of an article I wrote, the subpoena was served within days of publication. When Suzanne Breen was subpoenaed following an interview she had with the Real IRA, again it was served within days. But after the Irish News and Sunday Life articles appeared nothing happened and the PSNI sat on their hands.

Let me be clear about one thing. While I utterly abhor the behavior of Allison Morris and Ciaran Barnes, I am not for one moment suggesting that The Irish News or Sunday Life should take our place in this awful legal ordeal. I would not wish that on anyone. I do not believe the police should have the right to demand any media material and I have long advocated for a shield law to protect the media. And had those two newspapers found themselves in our place I am sure they would have resisted and fought for confidentiality. In those circumstances I would have volunteered my support for them.

What concerns me here is the behavior of the PSNI and the question of why they did not seek material nearer at hand than Boston College?

It has been suggested that one reason is that the PSNI, battling for support from a suspicious Catholic community in the troubled wake of the peace process, is unwilling to confront and embarrass Northern Ireland’s largest Nationalist daily newspaper. Some have argued that this explains why the PSNI served subpoenas on Suzanne Breen when she wrote about dissident IRA matters but ignored Allison Morris when she wrote in a similar vein. I do not know if this explains why the PSNI went to BC rather than to The Irish News but it is an intriguing question.

So what did the PSNI ever do about checking the veracity of the Irish News and Sunday Life articles and tracing their sources? Well, we know from Irish News editor Noel Doran’s article in TheWildGeese.com that, as he put it: “….. PSNI detectives did attempt to obtain the Irish News tape but were informed that we were no longer in possession of any such material”.

But the crucial question is when did that happen? Surely, if the PSNI was up to scratch, it had to be not long after the articles appeared? The answer was provided by none other than Allison Morris who wrote in the Irish News on October 19th, 2011 the following: “Moloney has suggested there is some sort of mystery as to whether the PSNI has attempted to obtain material from the Irish News. In fact the Irish News was approached by the PSNI in June this year. The police were informed I had not retained any material in relation to my discussion with Ms Price and had nothing further to add to what had appeared in the Irish News in February 2010.”

Two things jump out from Morris’ article and both raise serious questions about the PSNI’s Crime Branch, currently led by Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris, which is in charge of the Dolours Price investigation. The first is that the PSNI waited until June 2011, before it got round to checking with the Irish News about the paper’s interview with a person who is allegedly at the centre of one of Northern Ireland’s most notorious killings and the subject of an unprecedented transatlantic legal action. The Irish News interview appeared in February 2010, PSNI detectives eventually tracked down the newspaper in June 2011. That is a gap of fifteen months. Fifteen months!

The other is the date, June 2011. What else happened in June 2011? Well one thing that did happen that month was that my affidavit, setting out the claim that the Sunday Life article was based on the Irish News’ taped interview with Dolours Price was lodged with the District Court in Boston and made available to the PSNI’s ally in this affair, the US Attorney’s office. Now it may be that a little bird landed on Drew Harris’ shoulder and whispered into his ear that he better send some of his guys round to the Irish News but I’d bet the mortgage that it was my affidavit landing on his desk c/o the US Attorney that sent detectives scurrying to Allison Morris’ desk. In impolite circles this is called ‘Covering Your Arse’.

While we do not yet know whether the PSNI ever got round to talking to Ciaran Barnes about his sources there are really only two conclusions possible about the PSNI’s handling of this matter. One is that its Crime Branch is seriously incompetent. The other is that something more sinister is going on. I could speculate about what this could be but I won’t. But it ought to be investigated by someone. This was the reason I tried to refer all this to the Leveson inquiry. Either way the PSNI’s handling of the matter suggests that something is very seriously amiss in its Crime Branch.

BOSTON COLLEGE REDUX

Throughout the last year or so of legal struggle myself and Anthony McIntyre knew full well that in her interviews as part of the Belfast Project, Dolours Price had made no mention of Jean McConville or her disappearance. But we were not alone. BC also knew this. The academics and administrators there knew that when Ciaran Barnes suggested that she had implicated herself in the McConville disappearance in her interviews with McIntyre that this was complete rubbish and possibly deliberate lies.

In such disgraceful circumstances the claim that she had also admitted giving interviews to BC ought to have been treated with skepticism and at the very least Dolours Price should have been given the benefit of the doubt. But BC chose to believe Ciaran Barnes in this matter despite the fact that his central charge against her was invented, that he had not produced one quote from her in his report to substantiate the claim that she had talked about her BC interviews, and that he even got the name of the college wrong, calling it “Boston University”.

Having invented the contents of her interviews with BC, Ciaran Barnes could just as easily have made up the claim that she had admitted giving the interviews, especially if the goal was to hide the real source for his article, Allison Morris’ taped interview.

The existence of the BC archive was well known by that time and Morris herself had phoned me more than once in early 2010 in an effort to learn what Brendan Hughes had said in his interviews, then about to be published in Voices From The Grave. It would have been natural to link Dolours Price with BC, or have guessed that she might be an interviewee, without having definite knowledge.

Despite all this, BC decided to throw Dolours Price to the wolves. When the college eventually decided to launch a limited appeal to protect the content of other interviews subpoenaed by the PSNI, she was deliberately excluded on the grounds that she had compromised her confidentiality. Not one scintilla of evidence was provided, other than Ciaran Barnes’ yellow journalism, to back up this claim.

Amidst the failure to stand by its own research project by fighting this case to the highest court in the land, the abandonment and disparagement of its researchers and research subjects and the failure to fight for academic freedom on behalf of all America’s scholars, this moment was surely the lowest in BC’s ignoble odyssey through the PSNI subpoenas.

Price ‘did not mention Jean McConville’ in Boston College tapes

Price ‘did not mention Jean McConville’ in Boston College tapes
BBC News
14 September 2012

IRA bomber Dolours Price did not mention murder victim Jean McConville in interviews for Boston College, it has been claimed.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland is seeking access to tapes of the interviews as part of the investigation into Mrs McConville’s murder.

“Dolours Price did not once mention the name Jean McConville,” said Ed Moloney the research project’s former director.

Mrs Conville was abducted and murdered by the IRA in 1972.

“The subject of that unfortunate woman’s disappearance is not even mentioned. Not once,” Mr Moloney said in a statement.

“Neither are the allegations that Dolours Price was involved in any other disappearance carried out by the IRA in Belfast, nor that she received orders to disappear people from Gerry Adams or any other IRA figure,” he added.

“None of this is in her interviews with Anthony McIntyre.”

Mr Moloney is challenging a PSNI legal bid to obtain a transcript of the interview with Old Bailey bomber Dolours Price.

That and other interviews, part of a research study called the Belfast Project, are held securely at the Burns Library at Boston College, where the intention was to preserve them for future academic research

Participants were told the content of their interviews would be confidential and not be made public until after their deaths.

Ed Moloney has always refused to say which former IRA and UVF members had taken part in the project.

Police became interested in the tapes after a newspaper reported interviewing Dolours Price, who confirmed that she had been one of the interviewees.

Furthermore, the paper claimed that in the Boston interview, she had admitted to having played a role in the disappeared, people abducted, murdered and secretly buried by the IRA, and specifically the abduction of mother of ten Mrs McConville.