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Boston College offers to return interviews of Irish paramilitary troops

Posted May 7, 2014 4:50 PM CDT
By Victor Li

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Members of the Irish Republican Army who gave Boston College historians secret, confidential interviews can claim their recordings if they wish to.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that several interview subjects are concerned that their recordings could be used by law enforcement in the United Kingdom to solve old crimes. Last week, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was taken into custody to answer questions about the 1972 kidnapping and murder of a widow believed to be a British spy. According to the Times, Adams, who was released Sunday, said that most of the questioning centered around information obtained by the Police Service of Northern Ireland from the Boston College project. Adams said that the project, which was conducted from 2001 to 2006 by journalist Ed Moloney and former Provisional IRA volunteer Anthony McIntyre, was biased against him and gave a platform to his enemies, who opposed the peace process.

“The purpose in returning the interviews is to accommodate the requests of interviewees who fear for safety in light of the recent actions taken by the [Police Service of Northern Ireland],” Jack Dunn, a spokesman for Boston College, wrote in an email to the Times. “Those interviews that are not requested for return will remain in our possession.”

Moloney told the Times that he was pleased the recordings could be claimed by the interview subjects and expressed dismay that some interviews were released in the first place. Belfast police waged a two-year legal battle in the United States to get the interviews and managed to obtain several, including recordings of Brendan Hughes, Adams’ reputed deputy in the IRA who pointed the finger for the 1972 murder squarely at Adams. “They should not belong in Boston College, it is not a fit place,” Mr. Moloney said Tuesday. “Boston College failed in its basic duty to protect these interviews.”

Boston College, for its part, claimed that it fought tooth-and-nail to prevent the release of the interviews. “Given the investment by the Irish, British and American governments in the peace process, no one thought that release of these materials would happen or be allowed to happen,” Dunn said to the Times.

See also:

Chronicle of Higher Education: "Secrets From Belfast: How Boston College’s oral history of the Troubles fell victim to an international murder investigation"

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