Richard O'Rawe, a former IRA prisoner, is taking legal action against Boston College over its decision to hand tapes of his story from the Northern Ireland Troubles to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
He is expected to be joined by three other IRA members who were also recorded as part of the Boston College Oral History Project, according to The Guardian newspaper in the U.K.
The ex-paramilitary was among those who gave interviews to the college on the understanding that accounts would not be released without their permission or until after their deaths.
However, last year the PSNI won a legal battle in the U.S. to force Boston College to hand over the tapes that were compiled by journalists Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre. The tapes were used as a basis to arrest Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams earlier this month for questioning about the 1972 murder of Jean McConville, a mother of 10 children who was abducted by the IRA in front of her children in the Divis flats in west Belfast after being accused of informing to the security forces.
She was shot in the back of the head and secretly buried. Her body was not located until 2003 on a beach in Co. Louth, 50 miles from her home.
O'Rawe said he had suffered "serious intimidation and distress together with reputational damage as is evidenced by recent widespread graffiti appearing in west Belfast,” – graffiti that accuses those who gave interviews to Boston College as being touts.
O’Rawe claims there was misrepresentation and breach of confidentiality together with negligence based on the failure of Boston College to advise him that what he said could be subject to court orders as part of other litigations.
The Guardian newspaper reported that O’Rawe’s legal team pointed out that as Boston College has a subsidiary company based in Dublin, under European law the case can be taken in the High Court in Belfast.
O'Rawe stressed that his testimony contained no references to the McConville murder.
"Despite that, the police were still able to get my recordings. They should never have been allowed to do that. I blame Boston College for the mess and I want them held accountable for putting me in this position,” O’Rawe said.
O'Rawe's solicitor Kevin Winters also said his client had suffered intimidation following the arrest of Adams, who was released from custody after four days without charge.
"We will issue a letter of claim setting out the case and about 14 days later we will issue a writ,” Winters said.
The recordings were made by Boston College as part of the Belfast Oral History Project, a collection of interviews conducted with former Northern Irish paramilitaries.
O’Rawe, who was imprisoned for armed robbery, is now an author.
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