PSNI criticised over Boston archive move

 

AN EFFORT by Northern Ireland police to seize interviews which former paramilitaries gave to an American college could disrupt attempts to find the bodies of the so-called “disappeared”, officials have claimed.

The independent commission trying to locate the remains of people murdered and secretly buried during the Troubles said it relies on confidential information from those linked to the killings.

But it fears potential witnesses could be put off, after detectives investigating the murders launched a legal challenge to access private archives held by Boston College.

The commission’s senior investigator, Geoff Knupfer, whose organisation has found nine of the 16 victims, said police were entitled to pursue their work, but he wanted to stress information passed to his commission could not be used in prosecutions. The Boston College interviews with former republicans and loyalists were recorded on condition they would not be published until those involved were dead.

But there are now concerns the attempt to secure accounts that include allegations Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was linked to IRA murders, despite his denials, could deter other paramilitaries from talking. The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains was set up in 1999 by the British and Irish governments to locate the remains of the disappeared.

Mr Knupfer said: “Everything we do is dependent on information received. The legislation that covers the commission, both in the Republic and the UK and Northern Ireland, means our information cannot be used by anyone else.” – (PA)