Ex-IRA man’s case over Boston College tapes given supreme court hearing

Anthony McIntyre’s confidential intervew to oral history project sought by PSNI

A former IRA man has been granted a supreme court hearing in London in a bid to stop police from obtaining confidential recordings about his part in the Troubles.

Anthony McIntyre is among a number of ex-paramilitaries who gave interviews to Boston College as part of an oral history project, between 2001 and 2006.

The hearing, which is expected to take place in October, will seek to overturn a ruling made in favour of the Police Service in Northern Ireland (PSNI) last year. The police are seeking the Boston College material as part of their investigation into alleged terrorist offences, including a bomb explosion at Rugby Avenue in Belfast in 1976 and membership of a proscribed organisation.

For the time being, the tapes remain secured under seal in a Belfast court building.


Mr McIntyre's solicitor, Gavin Booth of Phoenix Law welcomed the deciison to allow the case to be heard.

The battle for Mr McIntyre’s tapes has been ongoing for several years. In February 2015 the PSNI issued an International Letter of Request (ILOR) in an attempt to acquire his recordings.

Mr McIntyre’s legal team argue access to the tapes should not be granted because there are a number of errors contained in the ILOR which sets out the alleged offences. The Divisional Court in Belfast attributed these mistakes to a “distinct and surprising lack of care on the part of the PSNI and the PPS [Public Prosecution Service]”.

Mr McIntyre was one of the main researchers on theBelfast Project, which was directed by the writer and journalist Ed Maloney. The purpose of the project was to collect and preserve stories of members of republican and loyalist paramilitary groups for the sake of academic research.

The participants gave testimony under the understanding that access to the tapes would be restricted until after their death, unless they provided written evidence to say otherwise. Anthony McIntyre maintains that it was never envisaged that his recordings would be accessed by the PSNI for the purposes of criminal investigation or prosecution.

However, assurances were undermined when the PSNI got hold of transcripts of interviews by ex-IRA members Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price, as well as that of loyalist Winston “Winkie” Rea.

Mr McIntyre served an 18-year prison sentence for the murder of an Ulster Volunteer Force member in 1986.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter