Pressure will mount on incoming Secretary of State John Kerry to inform British authorities that they should not pursue the Boston College IRA tapes as he had promised to do when he was head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Irish American groups are lobbying that the senator confirm at his confirmation hearings that he will ask the British to drop their pursuit of the tapes because of the potential damage to the peace process in the North.
New York attorney Brian O’Dwyer, a leading activist on Irish issues, said that Irish groups needed to brief friendly senators to ask Kerry about the Boston College case during his confirmation hearing.
”We need to have our voice heard on this important issue,” he said.
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Currently, the case is before the US Supreme Court who have been asked to intervene after lower courts ordered the tapes be handed over to the British but it is considered unlikely they get involved.
The British have been seeking the tapes to see if there is any new evidence on them relating to IRA activities during The Troubles. Sinn Fein have stated it is a witch hunt to try and seek damning evidence against Gerry Adams in the death of Jean McConville, a mother of ten, who disappeared in 1972 after allegations that she was an informer.
The tapes were recorded by researchers Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre and at least two anti-peace process IRA figures were interviewed.
Senator John Kerry previously made a dramatic intervention in the Boston College IRA tapes controversy.
In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in January 2012, Kerry (D-Mass.) urged the State Department to “work with the British authorities” in the hope that they will “reconsider the path they have chosen” with regard to Boston College’s Belfast Project.
Saying the subpoenas had “implications for the confidentiality of other research projects of this nature,” Senator Kerry also said in the letter that he is “obviously concerned about the impact that it may have on the continued success of the Northern Ireland peace process.”
Senator Kerry pointed out how he spoke with Attorney General Eric Holder on the matter late last year.
In a conference call with a number of Irish American organizations at that time, it is understood Senator Kerry indicated he would speak personally with British Foreign Secretary William Hague on the issue.
Speaking back then to IrishCentral, Boston-based attorney John Foley, who was actively lobbying on behalf of the Belfast Project’s directors McIntyre and Moloney, said a lot of hard work had gone into getting Senator Kerry on board, and hoped that “we can finally end this waste of time and effort.”
In total the Belfast Project included interviews with around 50 republican and loyalist paramilitaries gathered between 2001 and 2006, under the condition that they would not be released until the interviewees had passed away.