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Boston College principals made money from the book “Voices from the Grave” associated with the interviews. Photo by: Google Images

Boston College academics kept book royalties on IRA oral history project

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Boston College principals made money from the book “Voices from the Grave” associated with the interviews. Photo by: Google Images

The Boston College IRA files controversy took another strange twist on Sunday when it was revealed that the Boston College principals made money from the book associated with the interviews, “Voices from the Grave” .

That money was originally thought to have gone to the Irish department for future victim studies and ongoing costs associated with the project at Boston College as per email from one of the academics involved.

Professor Tom Hatchley of Boston College, Director of the Irish Studies program, had written in an email to author and project originator Ed Moloney that “We would be entirely supportive of a three- way split of future royalties in which Ed might very well might get half with Burns (library)  and the (Irish) Center splitting the balance. Bob could use the income for existing claims in his budget for the Project, while I would use any Center revenue for seed money for a victim study,’ which he goes on to refer to.’

However, it has now been revealed that the two Boston College academics kept the money themselves from the book royalties.

The transcripts from the project are being sought by the British government and a Boston judge has agreed to hand some over. Boston College is now disputing the handover.

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A major controversy developed over whether IRA and Ulster Loyalist participants in the tapes project were aware that their testimony could be subpoenaed and used in criminal cases. Boston College says they were, while Moloney and fellow researcher Anthony McIntyre says they were assured by the college of complete confidentiality.

It was thought that any proceeds would go to future research for Irish projects at Boston College, but it has now been revealed that the book royalties were split between author Ed Moloney, head of the oral history project, Burns Library Librarian Robert O’Neill, and Professor Tom Hatchey, Director of the Center for Irish Studies at the college.

Moloney took 50 per cent while the other two took 25 per cent each.

Earlier, Moloney was accused by Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn of seeking to profit from the book and that his eagerness to do so had made him careless about the limitations of confidentiality.

Dunn stated, “I think quite frankly Mr Moloney was so excited for this project, and quite frankly, so eager to write a book from which he would profit, he refused to ignore the obvious statements that were made to him including the contract that he signed expressing the limitations of confidentiality.”

However, on RTE radio program “This Week” yesterday, Moloney revealed that far from Boston College receiving revenue from the book, his two collaborators kept a share of proceeds themselves yesterday.

Moloney stated he personally kept the advance of $10,000 but agreed to share royalties.

Moloney was asked, “Did you transfer the funds into a Boston College account or into both gentleman’s personal accounts?

Moloney’s answer was, “I can only tell you I was sent bank account numbers for both Tom Hatchey and Bob O’Neill, those bank account numbers appeared to be their personal accounts, so I sent it to the accounts they asked me to send it to. I have to say, I was a little surprised by that, because in the email Tom Hatchey sent to Jonathan Williams (Moloney’s agent) dealing with this email, he very specifically said that their share of the money would go in one part to the Burns Library to deflate some of the expenses associated with the Project.

“And the money going to the Center for Irish Programs, the Tom Hatchey part of this arrangement, would be used for purposes to do with the Center. And when I asked for their bank account numbers, I expected to get the bank account numbers for the Burns Library and the Center for Irish Programs, but in fact I got what appeared to be their personal accounts.”

Asked if he made money off of the project, Moloney agreed he did.

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“Well yes, money was made for sure. But what are we talking about here? I think my advance which BC agreed I could keep because I was actually doing the writing for the book, I think amounted to something like 10,000 Euro ($13,500). And the royalties that have come in since January 2011, according to my last calculations, were about approximately 19,000 Euros ($25,000) half of which went to Boston College and half of which went to myself. So that’s what - nine and a half thousand Euros? Which is hardly an astronomical sum by anyone’s calculation.”

He continued; “The whole history of writing this book shows that Boston College was very closely part of the negotiations and I had agreed that Prof Tom Hatchey and Bob O’Neill would share the by-line on the book, that was perfectly fine by me.

“Unfortunately, the publisher ruled that out and wanted just my name on the book so we had to just go along with that. But I also agreed to share the royalties with BC half and half, and that is exactly what has happened. We’ve been paid royalties by  since I think January 2011 and I have religiously sent fifty percent of the royalties onto Dr. O’Neill and Professor Hatchey. And that does not suggest that I was not looking for a profit at all.

“Well, when the first royalty check came in from Faber in January 2011 I sent them an e-mail saying this has happened, and in accordance with our agreement, I would like to extend them half of the royalties, would they please send me their bank account details. Which they did, and I have all the emails recording that or the details of where to send the money, and I also have all the bank records with Allied Irish in Sandymount. Which clearly, I did send this money to them and they were quite happy to receive it. So, that was the deal and they negotiated this deal with my literary agent Jonathan Williams, who then went and dealt with the Faber publishers, it was perfectly acceptable to me. So that was the way that it we agreed and arranged and it’s gone through that way ever since.

Jack Dunn, the college spokesperson admitted he had not known that the two academics had personally profited from the book, and not the college.

He was asked by the RTE interviewer, “You hadn’t been aware up to now that staff members from Boston College had profited from this?

He replied, “Correct. I had a phone conversation yesterday with the Burns librarian who confirmed that he and Tom Hatchey received 25 percent of the profits from the book.”

Professor Hatchey also issued a statement saying ‘Boston College has not received compensation of any kind. As general editors of the publication, Bob O’Neill  and I naturally do receive compensation for our work as would editors for any such publication.’

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