Temporary reprieve for tapes handover

Temporary reprieve for tapes handover
THE IRISH NEWS
FRIDAY OCTOBER 19 2012

THE United States Supreme Court has issued a temporary order banning authorities from handing over the Boston College tapes to the PSNI.

The temporary reprieve in the long-running legal battle has been welcomed by journalist Ed Moloney and project researcher Anthony McIntyre.

Both men recorded a number of interviews with former republican and loyalist paramilitaries about the part they played in the Troubles on the condition that details of the tapes would only be made public after their deaths.

However, PSNI officers investigating the disappearance and death of west Belfast woman Jean McConville want access to interviews given by Dolours Price as well as a number of others.

In July this year a US court ordered that the interviews should be handed over to the PSNI.

This week’s court order, which runs until November 16, came after an earlier hearing issued a stay on the handover of the tapes to allow the Boston College researchers time to consider an appeal to the US Supreme Court.

Earlier this month in Belfast Mr Mclntyre lost a High Court bid to prevent the PSNI taking possession of his interviews with Ms Price.

Despite the ruling, the PSNI will not yet automatically gain access to the tapes as lawyers are expected to lodge an appeal against the decision.

And any handover of the material has also been put on hold until the US Supreme Court makes its final decision.

Supreme Courts around the World: the US Supreme Court

Supreme Courts around the World: the US Supreme Court
LAURA COOGAN 
UK Supreme Court Blog
18 Oct 2012

The US Supreme Court yesterday extended the stay of a Federal Court order which provides that transcripts and tapes of interviews between researchers at Boston College and a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army should be handed over to the British government.

In 2001, Boston College began a research project (known as the “Belfast Project”) which looked into the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Between 2001 and 2006, a number of individuals were interviewed as part of the Belfast Project, including former members of the IRA and the Ulster Volunteer Force. These interviews were conducted on the understanding that the information given by the interviewees would remain confidential until after their deaths.

One of the interviewees was Dolours Price, a former member of the IRA who in 1973 was convicted in the English Courts in relation to her role in a car bombing at the Old Bailey.

Ms Price has since given interviews to The Sunday Telegraph and CBS Evening Newsin which she made reference to her activities as an IRA member. In the latter, she referred to having a role in the abduction of Jean McConville. Jean McConville was a West-Belfast mother of 10 who was allegedly abducted, murdered and secretly buried in 1972 by the IRA as a result of being a suspected informant. Hers was one of the most high profile murders that took place during the Troubles, and remains unsolved.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland is seeking access to the recordings and transcripts of the interviews Ms Price gave to the Belfast Project in connection with the unsolved murder, claiming that they contain a detailed account of what happened to Jean McConville. The British government has issued subpoenas for the documents under the terms of a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (“MLAT”) between the US and the UK.

Earlier this year, the First Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Federal Court. Mr Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, a researcher for the Belfast Project (who was previously an IRA volunteer), are seeking an appeal of this decision by the US Supreme Court.

Messrs Moloney and McIntyre’s lawyers argue that the MLAT gives the British government greater powers in relation to issuing subpoenas than could be exercised by US bodies: subpoenas issued by the latter could be challenged on First and Fifth Amendment grounds, whereas subpoenas served by foreign powers under an MLAT cannot be challenged in such a way.

Mr Moloney has said that the disclosure of the documents to the PSNI would have the unattractive result of no one else being prepared to speak out about what happened during the Troubles. He has been quoted as saying

“Clearly this case is developing into a major assault on privacy. Not content with assailing academic rights, the PSNI are now set to lay siege to the media as well. Where will this stop?

It has also been argued that disclosure of the tapes could risk the welfare of Mr McIntyre.

Mr Dornan, one of the lawyers of Messrs Moloney and McIntyre has been quoted as saying

“My clients have raised issues of exceptional importance, including the constitutional right to free flow of information to the American public in the face of a foreign subpoena, the protection of important academic research, and the harm which the release of these materials would cause”.

The decision of the US Supreme Court means that Messrs Moloney and McIntyre will have until 16 November to file a formal appeal of the First Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision in July of this year.

US high court protects N. Ireland ‘Troubles’ archive – for now

US high court protects N. Ireland ‘Troubles’ archive – for now
By Ross Kerber
Reuters
BOSTON

Oct 17 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked a bid by authorities for access to interviews with a fighter from Northern Ireland’s “Troubles,” a temporary win for a pair of academic researchers.

At issue is whether authorities in Northern Ireland can obtain records from an archive at Boston College. The case has been closely followed on both sides of the Atlantic as it could show in uncomfortable detail the possible roles played by current political figures during the sectarian conflict, including Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams.

Adams, a member of the Irish Republic’s parliament, has said he has nothing to fear from the college’s materials.

In a brief order, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer stayed an appeals court decision that would have turned over material from the archive to police in Northern Ireland.

Breyer’s order will last until Nov. 16, or until the resolution of an appeal of the lower court ruling that the researchers plan to bring to the Supreme Court soon.

The researchers – including journalist Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, once a member of the Irish Republican Army – were part of a project that interviewed dozens of fighters from both sides of the conflict, which ended with a U.S.-brokered peace treaty in 1998.

Interviewees were told their words would remain sealed until their deaths. But after a series of news articles several years ago, the Police Service of Northern Ireland sought Boston College’s records to help solve one of the most notorious killings of the sectarian conflict – the 1972 death of Jean McConville, a widowed mother of 10.

McConville was killed by the IRA on suspicion of being an informer, an accusation her family has denied. Her body was recovered in 2003.

The U.S. Justice Department had demanded the records on behalf of the Northern Ireland police, citing legal-assistance treaties, despite opposition from U.S. politicians worried the case could damage the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Since the legal battle began, the Northern Ireland police have gained access to archived interviews by Brendan Hughes, an IRA figure who died in 2010. But access to interviews with eight other IRA figures remains in dispute.

Technically, the matter before the Supreme Court concerns only interviews with Dolours Price, an IRA member who was jailed for her part in the 1973 bombing of London’s Old Bailey courthouse that injured more than 200 people. The court’s decision in her case will likely determine the fate of the other interview material, said Eamonn Dornan, an attorney for the researchers.

(Reporting By Ross Kerber; Editing by Peter Cooney)

US court blocks handover of secret IRA tapes

US court blocks handover of secret IRA tapes
Journalists and historians have argued that PSNI’s attempt to seize material violates principle of source protection
Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent
The Guardian
Thursday 18 October 2012

Lawyers for journalists and historians behind an oral history project involving former IRA and loyalist paramilitaries have won a court case in the US that temporarily stops the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) from seizing their highly sensitive material.

The PSNI is seeking tape recorded interviews connected to one of the most notorious murders of the Troubles – the kidnapping, killing and secret burial of west Belfast woman Jean McConville.

The police have gone to the US courts to force Boston College to hand over tapes from the Belfast Project, an archive of interviews of former IRA and loyalist activists.

But three lawyers acting on behalf of the Belfast Project’s director Ed Moloney and one of its interviewers, the former IRA prisoner and writer Anthony McIntyre, scored a victory over the PSNI.

The supreme court granted the legal team a stay to hand over the taped archive to the PSNI. This measure will remain in place until the court decides whether to hear the case advocated by Moloney and McIntyre’s US legal representatives.

Award-winning journalist Moloney described the decision as “a fantastic victory” at the supreme court. Moloney and the Belfast Project researchers have argued that the PSNI action violates the principle of source protection. They contend that no historian or researcher will ever get to the full truth about what happened in the Troubles because a key set of actors in the conflict – the republican and loyalist paramilitaries – will never speak frankly again if the PSNI gets its way.

In addition their lawyers have claimed that allowing the police to obtain the material would, in particular, put McIntyre’s life in danger as he had given assurance both to his former IRA comrades and Ulster loyalists that their interviews would only be made public once they had died.

The PSNI wants access to interviews given to the Boston College/Belfast Project by former IRA Old Bailey bomber Dolours Price. They claim Price gives a detailed account of how McConville was targeted, abducted from her 10 children, driven across the border, murdered and buried in secret late in 1972.

However Moloney and the Belfast Project deny that Price gave any details about the McConville disappearance and murder in her interviews.

Price though has since spoken publicly to both the Sunday Telegraph and US broadcaster CBS confessing her role in the kidnap as well as driving the mother of 10 to her death.

The Guardian revealed last week that the PSNI had started legal moves to obtain interviews and film footage from both the newspaper and the American television station relating to their stories on Price.

Updated from Boston Globe: Researchers win a reprieve from Supreme Court in Boston College Irish Troubles interview case

Researchers win a reprieve from Supreme Court in Boston College Irish Troubles interview case
By Globe Staff
Boston Globe
Oct 17, 2012

Two researchers who were involved in interviewing former combatants in the Irish Troubles for a Boston College oral history project have won a stay of a federal appeals court order that one of the interviews should be turned over to the British government.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer ruled today that the order from the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston should be stayed, while the researchers prepare a writ of certiorari, seeking a Supreme Court hearing of their case. Breyer set a deadline for the request of Nov. 16.

The order will be stayed until then. It will also be stayed while the court considers the researchers’ request. If the court doesn’t agree to hear their case, the stay will expire. If the court agrees to hear their case, then the order will be stayed until the court issues a ruling on the case, Breyer’s order said.

Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre vowed in August that they would take their case to the Supreme Court after the Boston appeals court decided not to rehear — or have the full court hear — the case. A three-judge panel of the appeals court had previously rejected their appeal in July.

Today’s Supreme Court order was “significant in the sense that it keeps alive the chance of getting Supreme Court review. … At least they’re alive to fight another day. That’s really what it says,” said Jonathan Albano, one of the attorneys representing Moloney and McIntyre.

On behalf of unidentified law enforcement officials in the United Kingdom, federal prosecutors have issued subpoenas seeking information related to a 1972 slaying in which the Irish Republican Army has admitted involvement.

The subpoenas were issued under a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the United States and Britain.

But the Belfast Project, the goal of which was to document the Troubles, a decades-long period of violence, promised both Irish republican and British loyalist former combatants that their statements would not be released until their deaths. The project began in 2001 and interviews were recorded between 2001 and 2006.

The order by Breyer blocks a subpoena for an interview with former IRA member Dolours Price. Boston College, meanwhile, continues a separate legal battle in appeals court over a second set of subpoenas seeking other interviews, said Albano.

Albano said Moloney and McIntyre want the right to object to both sets of subpoenas.

Researchers win a reprieve from Supreme Court in Boston College Irish Troubles interview case

Researchers win a reprieve from Supreme Court in Boston College Irish Troubles interview case
By Martin Finucane, Globe Staff
Boston Globe
10/17/2012

Two researchers who were involved in interviewing former combatants in the Irish Troubles for a Boston College oral history project have won a stay of a federal appeals court order that the interviews should be turned over to the British government.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer ruled today that the order from the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston should be stayed, the researchers said, while the researchers prepare a writ of certiorari, seeking a Supreme Court hearing of their case. Breyer set a deadline for the request of Nov. 16.

The order will be stayed until then. It will also be stayed while the court considers the researchers’ request. If the court doesn’t agree to hear their case, the stay will expire. If the court agrees to hear their case, then the order will be stayed until the court issues a ruling on the case, Breyer’s order said.

Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre vowed in August that they would take their case to the Supreme Court after the Boston appeals court decided not to rehear — or have the full court hear — the case. A three-judge panel of the appeals court had previously rejected their appeal in July.

On behalf of unidentified law enforcement officials in the United Kingdom, federal prosecutors have issued subpoenas seeking information related to a 1972 slaying in which the Irish Republican Army has admitted involvement.

WBUR: U.S. Supreme Court Halts Turnover Of Secret IRA Tapes

U.S. Supreme Court Halts Turnover Of Secret IRA Tapes
By WBUR News & Wire Services
WBUR
October 17, 2012

BOSTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily blocked a federal judge in Boston from turning confidential taped interviews with a former member of the Irish Republican Army over to police in Northern Ireland.

The interviews, with convicted IRA car bomber Dolours Price, were part of a Boston College oral history project on the bloody violence between Catholic and Protestant paramilitaries.

A judge had ordered that the tapes be turned over to help British police solve the IRA’s 1972 killing of a Belfast woman. But the two project researchers appealed the judge’s order, saying it would endanger their lives.

Wednesday’s stay of a lower court order by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer blocks the turnover for now.

“To a man on the guillotine, any stay is consequential,” said civil libertarian Harvey Silverglate, who has been following the case. “The case would have been over and moot had Justice Breyer not acted. So this is very important.”

Price and other former IRA members were interviewed between 2001 and 2006 as part of The Belfast Project, a resource for journalists, scholars and historians studying the long conflict in Northern Ireland known as The Troubles.

The stay holds until Nov. 18 while the full court weighs whether to take up the case.

With reporting by the WBUR Newsroom and The Associated Press, from Washington

Supreme Court halts turnover of secret IRA tapes

SUPREME COURT HALTS TURNOVER OF SECRET IRA TAPES
Associated Press
Oct. 17

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has temporarily blocked Boston College from turning interviews over to the government that academic researchers recorded with a former Irish Republic Army member.

The high court on Wednesday stayed a lower court order that the school give the Justice Department portions of recorded interviews with convicted IRA car bomber Dolours Price. Federal officials want to forward the recordings to police in Northern Ireland investigating the IRA’s 1972 killing of a Belfast woman.

Price and other former IRA members were interviewed between 2001 and 2006 as part of The Belfast Project — a resource for journalists, scholars and historians studying the long conflict in Northern Ireland known as The Troubles.

The stay granted by Justice Stephen Breyer ends Nov. 16 if there’s no appeal to the Supreme Court.

US Supreme Court halts turnover of secret IRA tapes

US Supreme Court halts turnover of secret IRA tapes
thejournal.ie

The tapes were recorded by researchers at Boston College who interviewed a former IRA member.

THE US SUPREME Court has temporarily blocked Boston College from turning interviews over to the government that academic researchers recorded with a former IRA member.

The court today suspended a lower court order that the college give the US Justice Department portions of recorded interviews with convicted IRA car bomber Dolours Price. The PSNI want to get the recordings from federal authorities in the US as part of their investigation into the IRA’s 1972 killing of a Belfast woman.

Price and other former IRA members were interviewed between 2001 and 2006 as part of The Belfast Project — a resource for journalists, scholars and historians studying the conflict in Northern Ireland.

The stay granted by Justice Stephen Breyer ends on 16 November if there is no appeal to the Supreme Court.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has repeatedly denied all the allegations made by Price about his role in the conflict.

British Subpoenas Blocked

British subpoenas blocked
Lyle Denniston, Reporter
SCOTUS Blog
October 17th, 2012

Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer on Wednesday temporarily blocked subpoenas issued by the British government for papers collected in an academic project at Boston College about the history of the Irish Republican Army’s violent resistance to British rule in Northern Ireland. The subpoenas are part of a United Kingdom criminal probe into the death of a former IRA member who allegedly had served as an informer for the British government. Breyer’s order will remain in effect if the two researchers challenging the subpoenas file a formal appeal of the denial f their plea by the First Circuit Court in July.

The subpoenas had been challenged by Boston College, but it has given up at least part of its objection and has turned over some files. Attempting to continue the challenge are a former member of the IRA, Anthony McIntyre, who served as the lead researcher on the oral history project (the “Belfast Project”), and a New York journalist and writer, Ed Moloney, who directed the Belfast Project. That academic inquiry is an attempt to reconstruct the IRA rebellion from the perspective of former “foot soldiers” in that conflict, which ended in 1998 with the so-called “Good Friday Agreement.”

In gathering stories from those who had taken part in the rebellion, on either the IRA side or the Unionist side, the Belfast Project had promised confidentiality to interviewees in order to encourage them to speak candidly. For the UK police probe, files were demanded by two former IRA members, Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price. Boston College turned over the Hughes papers because he had died; confideniality had been promised only during his lifetime. The College resisted the demand for the Price files. That is the effort now taken up by McIntyre and Moloney.

The British police are investigating the 1972 abduction and death of IRA member Jean McConville. The probe apparently is proceeding on the theory that the IRA followed a routine practice of retaliating violently against any of their members who cooperated with authorities or revealed IRA activities. Mrs. McConville’s death, in an execution-style killing with a single gunshot to the back of her head, has never been solved. Among those who allegedly abducted her were Dolours Price, who has since said that she acted on orders from IRA leaders The IRA claimed that Mrs. McConville was an informer to British authorities, but a British probe rejected that claim. Her body was not recovered until 2003.

McIntyre and Molony originally tried unsuccessfully to join in the Boston College court challenge to subpoenas for the Price records. After the College declined to appeal one document turnover order, the two men associated with the Belfast Project began their own lawsuit. Their claims were turned aside both by a federal District judge, and by the First Circuit Court. The British demand for the project records, being defended in court by the U.S. Justice Department, is pursued under a criminal law enforcement treaty with the U.S. Two subpoenas are at issue: one issued in May 2011, one in August 2011.

The First Circuit’s decision in July rejected the two researchers’ objection, finding that they had no First Amendment right to resist a subpoena for records needed in a criminal investigation. Justice Breyer put that decision on hold temporarily on October 1, until the Justice Department could respond. He then issued a stay on Wednesday. It specified that the two researchers must file their petition for review by November 16, or else the stay will expire. If they do file their petition, the stay will remain in effect until the Court completes action on the case. The Breyer order contained no explanation for the stay.

In their application for a stay, McIntyre and Moloney said their coming appeal will ask the Court to resolve a split among appeals courts on whether there is a First Amendment right for academic researchers to object to a subpoena for their files, and whether individuals may challenge a subpoena issued under a legal assistance treaty.