The Boston College IRA tapes have been handed over to police from Northern Ireland under instruction from a United States federal court.

The  top secret interviews with convicted Old Bailey car bomber Dolours Price are now in the possession of the Police Service of Northern Ireland despite protests from leading Irish American figures and organizations.

They were originally part of an oral history project of The Troubles carried out at Boston College by journalist Ed Moloney and researcher Anthony McIntyre.Both men have been fierce critics of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

The participants, militants from both sides in Northern Ireland, believed their testimony would not be released until after their deaths and said they had received assurances of that.

However, the PSNI came after the Price tapes while she was still alive.

Dolours Price had attempted suicide  and was in deep mental distress for many years. Experts believed her testimony would never have stood up in court given her condition.

The interviews   have been handed over to detectives, police confirmed.

Officers probing the death and disappearance of the Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville took possession of the tapes after flying to America.

The PSNI has confirmed that two detectives from their serious crime branch have travelled to Boston to take possession of materials authorised by the United States Supreme Court as part of their investigation into the McConville murder.

The spokesman told the Irish Independent: “The officers will return to Northern Ireland to assess the material and continue with their inquiries.”

The tapes were handed over after the death in January of Price, an unrepentant republican hard-liner who criticised Sinn Fein after the party endorsed the Good Friday Agreement and encouraged the IRA to give up its weapons.

She had clashed with party leader Gerry Adams in recent years over her allegations that he had been her IRA Officer Commanding during the early 1970s.

She had consistently claimed that Adams ordered the kidnap and killing of Mrs McConville in 1972, a claim he has always denied.

Price made the claims in an interview with Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre who have compiled the oral history on Northern Ireland’s 40-year conflict. She had also made them in a newspaper interview.

The Boston Tapes recordings began in 2001 and were made on the condition that confidentiality would be guaranteed until after the death of the republican and loyalist paramilitaries who took part.

Researchers at Boston College lost a Supreme Court challenge last year when they tried to block the release of the tapes after the PSNI launched a high profile legal challenge to obtain the testimony.