Congressman Eugene O’Flaherty’s letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

February 23, 2012

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Madam Secretary:

I write to request your intervention in a matter that threatens the work done by so many to maintain a fragile peace in the North of Ireland through the Good Friday Agreement. Having recently returned from a fact-finding visit with colleagues of mine in the Massachusetts Legislature I am concerned that much of the progress I witnessed in ventures between the communities will be threatened with this court action.

Pursuant to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (Treaty) between the United States and the United Kingdom, the U.K. is subpoenaing oral history records from the “Belfast Project” collected by researchers at Boston College. The rationale for this legal effort is not consistent with earlier representations made by those negotiating in good faith that that the Treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom would not be used in connection with acts allegedly committed prior to the Good Friday Agreement. I question the legal justification presented by Her Majesty’s government because of the enormous goodwill that created such an historic agreement.

Given the strategic significance of stability in Northern Ireland, it is in the best interest of the United States government to not cooperate with the strict reading of the Treaty and allow for a waiver given the serious possibility of the Agreement being undermined.

I respectfully request that you involve yourself personally and urge our Attorney General to withhold American cooperation on these British requests and to state that we will oppose any effort to use the Treaty for political purposes when it will undermine the peace in Northern Ireland.

Thank you for your time and attention. Should you or a member of your staff wish to discuss this matter further, please call me.

Very truly yours,
State Representative, 2nd Suffolk District