Journalists seek to intervene in IRA oral history case

 

JOURNALISTS ED Moloney and Anthony McIntyre filed a suit in a US District Court in Boston this week against US attorney general Eric Holder, seeking to intervene in a case already under way between Boston College and US prosecutors.

The two men organised and conducted the oral history interviews of former IRA members that are being sought from the college by US prosecutors. Boston College has already filed motions to quash two sets of subpoenas issued by US prosecutors on behalf of unidentified law enforcement officials somewhere in the United Kingdom. The PSNI is understood to be seeking the information, but the court order authorising the subpoenas remains sealed.

Lawyers for Boston College have said the attempt by prosecutors to seize the interviews with 26 former IRA members who may have information about the 1972 abduction and murder of Jean McConville, a Belfast mother of 10, is an overzealous fishing expedition by law enforcement. They say it could endanger the interviewers and their subjects, the peace process, and the academic freedom to do such research.

Mr Moloney is a journalist and author now living in the Bronx, and Mr McIntyre is a journalist and former IRA member living in Drogheda. In their suit they frame the attempts by the US and UK governments to gain access to the oral history project as the type of politically motivated prosecution of politically motivated crimes that was specifically excluded under the terms of a treaty between the US and UK governments.

Mr Moloney and Mr McIntyre, represented by attorney Eamonn Dornan, argue they “are entitled to rely on solemn assurances from the government of the United Kingdom to the United States that politically related offences preceding the US-brokered Belfast Agreement of April 10th, 1998 would not be reopened”.

The suit asserts that in approving the treaty, the US Senate noted “that the United Kingdom does not intend to seek the extradition of individuals who appear to qualify for early release under the Belfast Agreement”.

Mr Moloney and Mr McIntyre argue that efforts by prosecutors to seize the interviews of Dolours Price, a former IRA member and Old Bailey bomber, “involves a politically related offence committed prior to the Good Friday agreement, and will require the UK government to initiate extradition proceedings of an Irish national from the Republic of Ireland for an offence allegedly committed in the jurisdiction of the Republic of Ireland”.

“The PSNI cannot proceed with a prosecution [in relation to the McConville case] without seeking the extradition of Dolours Price from the Republic of Ireland,” their suit claims.

Mr Moloney acknowledged that his and Mr McIntyre’s legal approach frames the case in more political terms. “It’s easier for us to do so than BC ,” said Mr Moloney.

The college sought to distance itself from the journalists’ position. “We obviously share the same goal in the outcome of this matter, but these filings, which we are just now reviewing, may not necessarily reflect the views of Boston College,” the university said in a statement last night.

Mr Moloney last year published a book, Voices from the Grave, based on interviews given by former IRA member Brendan Hughes and loyalist prisoner turned politician David Ervine.

Boston College has argued the death of Mr Hughes and Mr Ervine released them from the confidentiality they promised. US prosecutors say the college did not have the authority to promise interview subjects their words would not be made public until after their deaths.

Judge Joseph Tauro is expected to schedule a hearing soon.