New fears about the confidentiality of secret papers about IRA and Loyalist arms decommissioning held at Boston College have been expressed by Ireland’s main opposition leader Michael Martin.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said: “It is of major concern that the IICD (Independent International Commission on Decommissioning) documents are being held at the US college.
“These papers catalogue the details of the engagement of paramilitary groups with the decommissioning process and for reasons of security and safety it is imperative that these papers are not made public for a sufficient period of time. Martin said the papers should never have been given to BC.
“What is of major concern is that these papers have been given to an institution outside the island of Ireland which is now involved in a major controversy about protecting the integrity of its sealed archive.”
Boston College has again insisted that all documentation it holds in its archive from Irish paramilitaries will remain confidential for 30 years.
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The American institution received the decommissioning papers from the Irish and British governments.
Now, faced with a legal challenge by the British authorities on a separate oral history project and in the eye of a political storm in the Republic, Boston College bosses have stated that they will not release the decommissioning documents.
The International Independent Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) presented its final report to the British and Irish governments in 2011.
It contains highly secret files on how the IRA and Loyalist accomplished decommissioning, who took part, where arms bunkers were and the often tense negotiations.
In a statement to the BBC, Boston College said: “There is no conceivable reason why the British or Irish governments, which set the terms for the International Independent Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) papers when they were sent to the college, would break those terms.”
Justice Minister Alan Shatter responded to Martin’s comments and branded them ‘disingenuous, inaccurate and misleading’.
The Fine Gael Minister issued a statement which said that the IICD detailed the different arrangements made by them for storage of their documentation.
“Papers from political parties setting out their views on decommissioning and other private correspondence received from individuals was deposited by them for safe keeping in Boston College, subject to an embargo on their disclosure for 30 years,” said Minister Shatter.
“Details of the quantity of arms decommissioned by the various paramilitary groups were placed with the US State Department to preserve their security and confidentiality on the basis of the commission’s assessment that the time was not right for them to be made public.”
“Both the Republic’s Department of Justice and the Northern Ireland Office have been monitoring the situation in relation to the current legal proceedings in Boston pertaining to the oral archives and will remain in contact about the matter.
“However, there is no reason to believe that there are particular grounds for concern about the arrangements made by the commission, after consultation with the then governments.”