Thursday, January 5, 2012

Occupy Boston College

Wipe terror tapes and close US archive, its authors urge

A CONTROVERSIAL US project which contains the testimonies of Troubles era terrorists should now be wound up, according to the men who founded it.

The three men involved in the oral history project have said Boston College’s decision to hand over material to the US authorities after requests from the PSNI has betrayed the trust of those involved.
Investigative journalist Ed Moloney is the former director of the project that aimed to document the conflict through the eyes of those involved. Dr Anthony McIntyre interviewed former IRA members, while Wilson McArthur spoke to former loyalist paramilitaries for the archive under promise of confidentiality until death.
They said: “We are, all three of us, now strongly of the view that the archive must now be closed down and the interviews be either returned or shredded since Boston College is no longer a safe nor fit and proper place for them to be kept.
“We made a pledge to our interviewees to protect them to the utmost of our ability and we will stand by that pledge firmly and unalterably.”
All three are bitterly resentful of Boston College for releasing incriminating tapes, transcripts and DVDs without exhausting all possible legal channels.
The material was requested by the British Government on behalf of the PSNI after a Historical Enquiries Team review of the murder and secret burial of Jean McConville by the IRA in 1972.
Mr Moloney and Mr McIntyre have now won a stay of execution while the American courts consider whether to hand the tapes over to US attorneys, who will give it to the British. They are arguing that doing so would endanger the researchers’ lives and impact on the peace process. They also believe it could breach laws which prohibit the extradition of people accused of Troubles era offences from the US. William ‘Plum’ Smith and Winston Rea, two former loyalist prisoners, have already said that they want their testimonies back.  However, the Belfast Telegraph has learned that Boston College has already handed the entire archive over to the US courts to decide what is relevant to the McConville investigation.
“I was appalled,” Mr Moloney said.  “The college was asked for relevant material and said that the librarian had not read it. So the court got everything.”He hit out at Boston College for not going far enough to protect the material in his view. “Implicit in the pledge of confidentiality was that it was non-negotiable,” he said. “Boston College therefore had a duty to fight to preserve it to the utmost, in effect to challenge any adverse legal decisions all the way up the legal chain, as far as the Supreme Court if necessary. “BC’s failure to appeal in my mind robs the college of any moral right to hold on to the archive.”

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