There is something rotten in Boston College where the latest push by Northern Irish authorities to gain access to oral histories by IRA participants has moved up a notch.
The Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen correctly identified this latest effort as a witch hunt against Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams in an attempt to link him to a 1972 murder in Belfast.
The college has been vainly protesting that it will not reveal the oral histories to feds, acting on behalf of the British government but they have very little credibility on this issue.
It appears obvious now that the oral histories were given under a guarantee of full confidentiality and for use by future historians but that was not worth the paper it was written on.
The recollections of Brendan Hughes, one of the IRA men in the oral history project, formed a major basis of the 2010 book by author Ed Moloney called ‘Voices from the Grave.”
Moloney, a former journalist in Northern Ireland, was director of the Belfast project for Boston College and apparently the rule of confidentiality or immediate release of information from sources did not apply to him.
Moloney has written repeatedly in hostile fashion about Adams a fact that BC conveniently ignored when they hired him.
In his book Moloney quoted Hughes as saying that Adams was certainly in the IRA and ordered many killings. That was later the basis of a major documentary on Irish television and worldwide stories about the case.
The story broke around the time Adams was running for a seat in the Irish parliament and was widely viewed as an attempt to damage him.
Professor Thomas Hachey, executive director of the Irish Studies program at BC, helpfully wrote the introduction for Moloney’s book very much tying the college into its conclusions.
Moloney clearly felt he was entitled to quote from the confidential archives at length in what seemed a vain attempt to link Adams to the 1972 Jean McConville murder and Boston College went right along with it.
It gets worse, Moloney’s lead researcher and interviewer was Anthony McIntyre, a leading dissident republican who also had a deep loathing for Gerry Adams and conducted the interview with Hughes.
Was this the kind of unbiased historical perspective and information gathering that Boston College should have insisted upon?
No, of course not, right from the beginning the aim was clearly to try and get negative information on Gerry Adams and Boston College played a full role, however unwittingly or wittingly perhaps.
Now it has landed them in a hornet’s nest worth of trouble. No doubt seeing what Moloney and McIntyre were able to put together, some key security figure in Northern Ireland wanted their attempt to get at Adams too, and settle some scores.
They now have the US Attorneys office doing their bidding and seeking to get all tapes released, from Republican sources.
What exactly the Obama administration is doing aiding and abetting this witch hunt is material for another column
Boston College is now spluttering that they should be allowed hold the tapes confidential—even though they allowed the release of Hughes’s testimony to Moloney.
In an ironic twist Moloney and McIntyre wrote an op- ed in the Boston Globe Tuesday saying release of the tapes could damage the peace process.
Stable door and bolted horse come to mind. Boston College certainly have a case to answer and have shown how not to do a professional oral history of the Troubles-- and endanger the peace process in the process.