Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, who organized and carried out interviews with 26 former IRA members for the Boston College oral history project, are suing in U.S. District Court to quash two sets of subpoenas.
The two journalists are seeking to intervene in the legal dispute between Boston College and the US prosecutors. The US prosecutors are seeking the interview records on behalf of law enforcement officials in the United Kingdom. .
Boston College has already filed motions to quash the two sets of subpoenas issued for any information related to the 1972 abduction, killing and secret burial of Jean McConville. In 2003 McConville’s remains were recovered in the Republic of Ireland. The IRA has admitted that they killed McConville for being a suspected informer.
While the Police Service in Northern Ireland (PSNI) are still investigating the murder of the Belfast mother of ten the subpoenas remain sealed.
During interviews for the oral history project two former IRA members, Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price, both said Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein’s leader, had ordered the abduction, execution and burial of McConville. Adams denies these allegations.
The US prosecutors are seeking only to interview of the IRA members, not any of the British loyalists interviewed. That leads critics to see the probe as politically motivated.
According to reports in the Boston Globe Moloney and McIntyre’s law suit frames the US and UK government’s attempts to gain access to the information and transcripts of interviews as the type of prosecution of politically motivated crimes. They say this was specifically excluded under a treaty between the countries.
They contend that they “are entitled to rely on solemn assurances from the Government of the United Kingdom to the United States that politically-related offenses preceding the US-brokered Belfast Agreement of April 10, 1998, [the Good Friday Agreement] would not be reopened.’’
The pair maintain that efforts to maintain these interviews “involves a politically related offense committed prior to the Good Friday Agreement, and will require the UK government to initiate extradition proceedings of an Irish national from the Republic of Ireland for an offense allegedly committed in the jurisdiction of the Republic of Ireland.’’
Speaking to the Globe Moloney said the suit complements the legal actions already taken by Boston College’s lawyers. Theirs is a more political argument.
In response to Moloney and McIntyre filing their own case Jack Dunn, a Boston College spokesman said “We obviously share the same goal in the outcome of this matter, but these filings, which we are just now reviewing, may not necessarily reflect the views of Boston College.”
Boston College has already handed over the interviews carried out by McIntyre with Hughes as the promise of confidentiality ran out in 2008 when he died. However Boston College lawyers say turning over the other interview would endanger the interviewees, the peace process in Northern Ireland and academic freedom.
At the beginning of the project in the 1990s the College had promised Irish republicans and British loyalists that their oral histories would not be released until they were dead.
As part of the project, which originated in the 1990s, Boston College promised Irish republican and British loyalist former combatants that their oral histories would not be released until their deaths. Prosecutors maintain the College has no authority to do so when a crime in involved.