The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and Public Prosecution Service have served a subpoena on Boston College demanding that they release further material from the controversial Belfast Project.
The Belfast Project was an oral history project that collected the testimonies of 26 republicans and 14 loyalists about their activities in Northern Ireland throughout 'the Troubles.' The recordings were made between 2001 and 2006 under the direction of lead researcher Anthony McIntyre, himself a former republican and contributor to the project. Each testimony was given on the basis that it would not be publicly released until after the interviewee's death.
Lengthy legal battles undertaken by the PSNI against Boston College have already resulted in the release of interviews with IRA members Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes as police searched for evidence in connection with the 1972 murder of widowed mother-of-ten Jean McConville.
The PSNI has now launched another bid to acquire the personal interview of lead researcher Anthony McIntyre, who gave testimony about his own activities during the 1970s and 80s.
Now an outspoken critic of the Sinn Féin leadership and the republican “armed struggle,” McIntyre has previously served 18 years in jail for the murder of Ulster Volunteer Force member Kenneth Lenaghan in 1976.
The latest subpoena from the PSNI claims that the McIntyre interview is needed in relation to an investigation into an attempted murder but is not related to the Jean McConville case.
It also claims that the testimony is needed in an investigation into the possession of explosives with intent to endanger life, conspiracy to cause an explosion, possession of an imitation firearm, and membership of a proscribed organization.
Since its issuance over the weekend, lawyers acting on behalf of the former IRA man claim that the subpoena is unlawful."I see this as an attempt by the PSNI to force me to become a witness against people that they allege I interviewed, or to reveal the contents and identities of those who I have interviewed," he told the BBC. "There are no circumstances under which I will be doing that."
McIntyre believes that he is now being targeted by the PSNI because of his resistance to the release of previous interviews and claims that he will not cooperate with police if arrested because of anything the tape reveals.
"I have spent almost two decades in jail and the British authorities are looking for me about 1970s stuff. Not one police officer has spent a day in jail for the torture of people in Castlereagh in the Seventies and Eighties, torture that has been proven by numerous human rights organizations,” McIntyre told the Belfast Telegraph.
"The State is busy covering up their role in murder in the dirty war yet they are portraying themselves as the good guys coming after me in the name of justice. If it wasn't so serious, it would be farcical."
Originally from South Belfast, McIntyre now lives south of the border in Co. Louth. It is believed that the PSNI may seek his extradition from the Republic if they secure possession of his testimony. McIntyre supporters have already contacted leading Irish politicians regarding the subpoena, including acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin.
The tapes of Dolours Price, Brendan Hughes and six other IRA members have previously been handed over to Northern Ireland authorities as part of the investigation into the disappearance of Jean McConville.
Jean McConville was abducted from her west Belfast home by the IRA in front of her children over 40 years ago, in one of the most notorious murders throughout the Northern Ireland 'Troubles.'
The widowed mother of ten was accused by the IRA of being an informer the for security forces and she was killed and buried in secret. For many years she was known as one of “The Disappeared,” people taken by the IRA and never found, until her body was discovered in Co. Louth in 2003.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was arrested in September 2015 as part of the investigation but released without charge and veteran republican Ivor Bell is currently facing charges of aiding and abetting her murder based on material discovered in the previously released testimonies.
The current case is due to go to court on May 6. The subpoena has been served under the US-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.Belfast Telegraph