IRA members face ‘grave physical danger’ if recordings made for American college’s project are handed to British authorities, U.S. court hears
By Rebecca Seales
PUBLISHED: 16:08, 5 April 2012 | UPDATED: 21:22, 5 April 2012
Former members of the IRA face revenge attacks if recordings purportedly accusing Gerry Adams of running a secret death squad are handed over to Britain, a U.S. court heard.
Lawyers for ex-IRA man Anthony McIntyre and Irish journalist Ed Moloney are fighting a U.S. government decision to hand over taped interviews with IRA members that the pair made for an oral history project.
Yesterday, their appeal won the backing of U.S. senator and former presidential contender John Kerry, who said any release could jeopardise the ‘fragile’ Northern Ireland peace process.
The tapes were made between 2001 and 2006 as part of an oral history project that participants say was supposed to be kept secret until their deaths.
The project is intended to be a resource for journalists, scholars and historians studying the decades-long conflict in Northern Ireland.
But Northern Ireland police probing the IRA’s 1972 killing of a Belfast woman want access to the interviews as part of their investigation.
U.S. District Judge William Young ruled that Boston College must turn over interviews with convicted car bomber Dolours Price.
While the college initially fought subpoenas issued by U.S. prosecutors for the recordings, it did not appeal Judge Young’s ruling on the Price interviews.
Anthony McIntyre, a former IRA member who conducted the interviews, and Ed Moloney, an Irish journalist who directed the project, have filed a lawsuit challenging U.S. authorities’ decision to subpoena the records.
In court yesterday, the men’s lawyer Eamonn Dornan said McIntyre and the other IRA members who participated in the project face ‘the real risk of physical harm’ if the recordings are turned over.
He said McIntyre has already been branded an informant by some factions in Northern Ireland and could face an attack if the interviews become public.
Mr Dornan also argued that if the recordings are turned over, it will ruin the Northern Ireland oral history project and have a chilling effect on other academic research projects.
‘There’s no question it will be destroyed if any material is released from that archive,’ he said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Healy-Smith argued that Judge Young had dismissed the lawsuit filed by McIntyre and Moloney, on the grounds that their interests were adequately represented by Boston College.
However, the Court of Appeal justices expressed skepticism that the college has the same interests as participants in the project.
Justice Michael Boudin said he found that argument ‘a little odd,’ noting that the college has decided not to appeal Young’s order to turn over the Price interviews.
Ms Healy-Smith said U.S. authorities are bound by a legal assistance treaty with the United Kingdom, which requires the two to aid each other’s criminal investigations.
The court is expected to issue its ruling within three months.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Moloney said that if he and McIntyre lose their current case before the three-judge appeals court, they may appeal to America’s highest court.
‘If we lose by two to one, we will appeal it to the (US) Supreme Court,’ he said.