PSNI preparing to seek possession of some Boston College tapes

US court rules that only tapes relating to murder of Jean McConville can be released

Jean McConville with three of her children in 1972, shortly before she was abducted and murdered by the IRA. Photograph: Pacemaker

Jean McConville with three of her children in 1972, shortly before she was abducted and murdered by the IRA. Photograph: Pacemaker


A US court ruling has paved the way for the PSNI to begin formal moves to gain copies of the Boston College tapes relating to the 1972 abduction and murder of Jean McConville.

On Friday, the US appeals court ruled that only interviews dealing directly with the murder of the Belfast mother of 10 could be turned over by Boston College to police in Northern Ireland.

Now the PSNI is preparing to retrieve the relevant tapes so it can press ahead with its investigation into the murder of Ms McConville, one of the “disappeared” whose body was found on a Co Louth beach in 2003. “Detectives are making plans to take possession of the material and proceed with their inquiries,” a police spokesman said yesterday evening.

The US court ruling means that recordings of 11 confidential interviews with seven individuals, including former IRA members, will be surrendered to the US authorities and eventually handed over to the PSNI.

This reduces the amount of information the US courts had previously ordered the college to surrender from its Belfast Project archive of interviews with IRA figures.

A US district court in Boston had ordered the college to hand over 85 wide-ranging interviews with eight people carried out to create an archive at the university to assist historians and researchers studying the Troubles.

Boston College appealed the ruling that it turn over these interviews for their eventual transfer to the UK authorities as requested in August 2011 under the McConville investigation.

Former IRA members gave interviews to journalist and author Ed Moloney and historian Anthony McIntyre, himself a former IRA member, on the basis that the recordings would be kept private until the interviewees had died.

In a joint statement, Mr Moloney and Dr McIntyre said the judgment meant that “a mere 13 per cent” of what the district court had initially ordered would be surrendered and that this was “at least a partial indictment of the whole process”.

In April the US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from the two men to block the release of interviews with the late Dolours Price, who was jailed for the IRA bombing of the Old Bailey in 1973.

Ms Price had separately claimed Mr Adams was her Belfast commanding IRA officer at the time of the Old Bailey bombings. She said he was also her OC when she was part of an IRA team that drove Ms McConville across the Border and ultimately to her death. Mr Adams has repeatedly denied these claims.

The US appeals court had previously found that Mr Moloney and Dr McIntyre had no right to interfere with the police request for information under a treaty between the US and the UK that requires mutual assistance in criminal investigations.

The appeals court said in its judgment on Friday the college had handed over interviews with Ms Price, who died in January, and another Provisional IRA member, Brendan Hughes, who died in 2008.