Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

“He is merely behaving as an echo chamber for Sinn Fein exasperation…”

Thu 1 September 2011, 6:09pm

As we wait for the US court’s ruling on the release of the Boston College archive material, it’s worth noting that there have been a number of recent articles in which some interested parties have made their views known.

A couple of weeks after a Boston Globe editorial called on the college to release the information requested, a joint op-ed from Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre appeared in the same paper.  Accompanying it was a separate article from columnist Kevin Cullen arguing the same lines.  Although neither addressed the points made in the editorial, nor those made elsewhere.  Kevin Cullen was less strident, and more open about his sources, in a subsequent Irish Times article.

But perhaps the most bizarre intervention came from Niall O’Dowd, who clearly had the tinfoil wrapped a little too tightly at the time – claiming, as he did, that the 2010 publication of Voices from the Grave represented a breach of the confidentiality agreement between researchers and interviewees.  That’s despite the fact that, as the title suggests, the two interviewees concerned had died prior to publication – as required by that confidentiality agreement.

O’Dowd’s website, Irish Central, has offered Anthony McIntyre a right of reply.  And he’s taken it with gusto.

The preposterous suggestion that Boston College carried out a witch hunt against the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams is a figment of Niall O’Dowd’s imagination every bit as much as never having been a member of the IRA is a figment of Mr. Adams’ own imagination. Was the late Kader Asmal, via memoirs published after his death, also involved in a witch hunt against Mr Adams? What possible interest would Boston College have in making life difficult for Gerry Adams? It more than any other US university has worked diligently and assiduously in its promotion of the peace process of which Adams was one of the prime architects.

Niall O’Dowd may well seek to smear the people assigned by Boston College to conduct its research project, and by extension the college, but in doing so he has failed lamentably to make a convincing case that the Boston College research project worked towards a predetermined outcome. What he has achieved is a demonstration of his own proclivity for discriminating against journalists and researchers who have had the temerity to probe beyond the politically expedient narrative of the peace process.

Whatever Niall O’Dowd’s motives in attacking the oral history project of Boston College the defense of academic integrity does not figure amongst them.  He is merely behaving as an echo chamber for Sinn Fein exasperation that its version of history is not the sole thread in the historical tapestry. But in a milieu of intellectual pluralism he should expect no less.
 
In his Periscope broadside he accused Boston College of having hired anti-Adams researchers. He fails to make the point that both myself and Ed Moloney are considered well outside the confines of Boston College as competent analysts. We brought a measure of certifiable journalistic and academic acumen to the task at hand. Perhaps had we lacked qualifications, were members of Sinn Fein and interviewed people who would testify to Gerry Adams history of non involvement in the IRA, we might have satisfied his rigorous criteria as to what constitutes a non biased research team.

What none of the main protagonists have done so far, prefering instead to question the motives behind the subpoenas, is address points raised some time ago

John A. Neuenschwander, an emeritus professor of history at Carthage College in Wisconsin and author of “A Guide to Oral History and the Law,’’ said institutions and researchers have an obligation to defend confidentiality agreements, but they also should warn subjects that they may not override a subpoena.

“You need to alert people that you seal the interview for, that you may not be able to prevent it from being picked up by a subpoena and going to court,’’ Neuenschwander said.

Neither have they addressed the points made by the US Department of Justice.

As for the timing of the subpoenas for the college’s archival material, the March 2010 publication of Voices from the Grave and the later publication of an interview with Dolours Price, noted via Mick by Liam Clarke, would seem to be sufficient explanation – those were the first details to emerge in public of the specific information the archive actually contained.

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Comments (27)

  1. keano10 (profile) says:

    Are you suggesting that Anthony McIntyre is somehow an impartial commentator on Sinn Fein? Of course he delivered his observations with ‘gusto’…

    What do you think?
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  2. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    Whereas everybody knows that Anthony McIntyre absolutely abominates Gerry Adams, it is not all that preposterous to question his good faith and impartiality in conducting his research. I question the worth of the whole “oral history” project to begin with. It is not a revelation that Brendan Hughes maintained to the death that Gerry Adams was his commander in the Provisional IRA. Same goes for Ms. Price. The archive has no legal value as evidence. No lawyer can cross-examine the dead. Nothing can come of it, legally. That leaves only a political outcome. Mr. McIntyre is an intelligent man and is well aware of this. I think it is all a big stink over nothing of consequence.

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  3. Into the west (profile) black spot says:

    “We brought a measure of certifiable journalistic
    and academic acumen to the task at hand.”

    yeah right sir mackers, yah yah
    trouble is you didn’t check the legal side, did you?
    so you’ve made a bit of a clown of yourself, haven’t you?

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  4. Los Lobos (profile) says:

    We could argue all day about the finer details of Mr Adams involvment in the IRA, or wether or not Mr McIntyre holds a grudge for spending his youth in jail only to be attacked by his former comrades after release . The real question around this issue is who is turning the screw on Adams and why now? Has he outlived his usefulness in the USA and the UK? Has his move into the Dail triggered the Irish Government to call in a few international markers? Is Mc Guinness looking to “airbrush” Adams out of history? Whatever the truth Adams is in for a rough ride both within his own Party and wider political circles in the Republic. To be a good liar one needs a long memory. Adams has one of these atributes but therein lies his problem. In his own words “the truth will out”, when it does, “the project” will have run its course with nothing but grief to show for the amaturish effort to thwart the will of the people.

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  5. Pete Baker (profile) says:

    Kevsterino

    “The archive has no legal value as evidence. No lawyer can cross-examine the dead. Nothing can come of it, legally.”

    They’re not all dead.

    Keano

    “Are you suggesting that Anthony McIntyre is somehow an impartial commentator on Sinn Fein?”

    I haven’t said anything about Anthony McIntyre, just quoted his response to Niall O’Dowd’s column. Which is linked in the original post.

    Try to focus on what’s actually been said, rather than invent statements to disagree with.

    But McIntyre’s comments should be viewed in relation to O’Dowd’s original article.

    Which I’ve also commented on in the original post.

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  6. Alias (profile) says:

    “The real question around this issue is who is turning the screw on Adams and why now/”

    Dolours Price is the person of interest to the police, not Gerry Adams. Given that she is in the anti-Adams camp, the State is protecting Mr Adams by targetting her.

    “He told me what I was saying wasn’t appreciated and he’d shot people for less.” Given that the Shinner thugs failed to silence her, it is helpful to the Shinners that the State should finish the job.

    The real outcome of the legal shennanigans will be that other disenfranchised Shinners will not be tempted to be reveal information through unauthroised channels that could damage the State’s protected species since they will observe that such information can be used against them in ways that they didn’t anticipate.

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  7. Kevsterino (profile) says:

    Pete, none of the interviews were under oath. Their value is not of a legal nature. In my opinion, the whole thing would not be worth anyone’s time were it not for its political potential. It amounts to the political corrupting the legal. The movers and shakers behind bringing about this course of events should at least be honest about what motivates them.

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  8. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    McIntyre has a way with words, you have to give that to him, I will confess to getting hooked on his blog anytime I happen to hit on it.

    As for the Boston interviews, I presume they were not intended for legal or political purposes, with the intention in most cases being under lock and key for sometime to come, they were a chance to add to the historical record from a source which kept few records, and gave people a chance to “tell their story”, something elemental to all of us, but of course they will be used for other purposes if the chance arises, fair play to anyone who does, but O’Dowds attack has the appearance of padlocking an empty stable.

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  9. oracle (profile) says:

    I’m rapidly approaching the conclusion that any post on Slugger that even mentions the name of Anthony McIntyre let alone figuring him prominently in the piece should be deleted with all haste.
    I have a sick uncle who has been waiting to see a consultant for a considerable period of time now but every time he gets near the top of the list some heartless bastard on Slugger goes and blogs a piece involving McIntyre…….

    **** CRASH BANG WALLOP ****

    Hundreds of life-long Irish Republicans… err um well Sinn Fein supporters throughout the North suffer palpitations convulsions and minor coronaries whilst watching traditional Irish cultural programs like Eastenders and Coronation street, or whilst watching Chelsea and Man Utd on that great Irish network SKY Sports.

    Potatoed up on the couch wearing their extortionately overpriced replica shirts with multi-national company trademarks emblazoned across the chest which were in all probability knocked out in a third world sweatshop by some 12 year old girl working scandalous hours in dangerous conditions for scum wages, blissfully unaware of the irony of it all.

    But hell that’s nothing there’s more important stuff to fight for than some innocent 12 year old girl, there’s the pride of Sinn Fein at stake here, that bastard McIntyre has exposed Sinn Fein and some of its close friends and former members still loyal to the party line as imbecile’s, liars, and thugs.
    He has resolutely defied the bullyboy tactics of Sinn Fein and robustly and forensically annihilated every mistruth they have manufactured to explain their hatred of him and his family

    They loath him for being honest, they despise him for being right, and they fear him for being courageous.

    They can’t attack his war record because as a blanket man he has one, were as Gerry’s record isn’t supposed to exist and I suppose in reality it never really did, and in 17 years they’ve failed to challenge McIntyre intellectually or to prove him dishonest so instead they flood the cyber world with infantile name calling of the man and his family, with bitter and twisted their usual mantra.

    The only stick that they have to beat him with is one 3,000 miles away that was not of his making, but that’ll not stop the Shinners of blaming that on him after all they’ve accused him of everything but the Hiroshima bombing.

    So keep the Shinners from having heart attacks and keep McIntyre off Slugger and give my uncle a fighting chance

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  10. oracle (profile) says:

    My uncle has decided to go private,

    Apparently he heard that Anthony McIntyre, Suzanne Breen and Ed Maloney were doing a book for Christmas and Pete Baker was going to serialize it on Slugger.

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  11. Rory Carr (profile) says:

    I liked this contribution from one “Hogan” in response to the original thread that kicked this all off on Slugger back in March (access via Pete’s first link – ” Boston College archive material”)

    Hogan (profile)
    23 March 2010 at 2:31 am

    As an Alumni (sic) of one of Boston College’s exchange programmes i (sic) can say that Hachey is as clued in as any academic over here.

    I had the priviledge (sic) of joining him for dinner in the Burns library one evening and found him to be a true gentleman.

    I’m delighted that people have decided to place their trust in BC for a project of this nature.

    It could not be in safer hands. (My emphasis)

    Which sentiment inspired me to dig out this:

    http://bit.ly/hgdvr

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  12. Munsterview (profile) black spot says:

    Alias : “..“The real question around this issue is who is turning the screw on Adams and why now/”

    Got that in one!

    However having defined the question in terms of impartiality you are one of the least suitable posters on this site to provide the answer. You unconditionally support a State that joined with White South Africa Terror State minority to block the emergence of Black African democracy and the transfer of power to the ANC.

    The activities of Israel in opportunistically supporting any regime irrespective of that regimes policies towards it’s own people or the International Community of Nations where there is some advantage for The Israeli State or disadvantage for Israelis enemies has been a widely gyrating moral compass prepared to point wherever expedient as the shifting alliances and political realities change, since the foundation of the Israeli State.

    This State Policy has a simple definition ‘ any friend of my enemy is my enemy too and that individual, group, community or country is then fair game for any kind of sculduggery up to and including assassination in their own lands for their opposition,

    Sinn Fein has had a consistent policy of supporting The Palestinian Liberation Struggle which Israel and of course your good self aggressively oppose. Most times you do not attack Sinn Fein head on in a transparent way, you instead resort to a practice with a long pedigree in this country under the British and indeed Palestine also when it had the misfortune to be under the British Mandate.

    This practice is called ‘felon setting’ simply stated it is to sow doubt and suspicion among comrades, former comrades or any that would form a common front based on a collation of sufficient interests for a common purpose even if there was not complete agreement in specific objectives.

    The Sunday Times and The Independent newspaper group had a particular stance all during the outbreak of The Northern Conflict, the seventies, The Hunger strike, the Hume Adams Talks, the Ceasefire, The Good Friday Agreement and the accession of Republicans to Power sharing.

    Those News Papers were consistently hostile to the Republican Movement, they did not change their tune, they reflected their owners class interests and most journalists who worked for those papers consistently outstripped themselves to be ‘their masters voice’.

    If some of these same reporters with a consistently hostile record towards Mainstream Republicans have in latter years become ‘best buddies’ with Republicans who still consider themselves Revolutionary Republicans, then it is high time these same Republicans found a mirror and took a good, hard look at themselves.

    ‘The bomb and the bullet’ phase of the Freedom Struggle is mainly over for now but the same ‘war for Hearts and Minds’ that was always there since the very start of the most recent phase of the Northern Conflict is still very much in place and it has gathered pace. It has one principle aim and one principle aim only, destroy Sinn Fein unity and to do that they must first destroy any sense of unity or common purpose among Republicans.

    If former comrades now critical of The Mainstream Republican Movement, now find themselves singing off the same hymn sheets as Journalists who have a consistent track record of opposing the rise of Republicanism they should reflect and ask why. The answer is obvious and it is not a pretty one!

    Put simply those who have allowed themselves to become entangled in such embittered personality politics against former comrades have lost sight of the wood for the trees !

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  13. slappymcgroundout (profile) black spot says:

    Nice rant there, Oracle, but McIntyre was the idiot who didn’t tell these humans that their interviews might very well be subject to US subpoena. So hard to claim, as you did, that this circumstance is not of his making. And in case you missed the obvious, and you did, the one soul’s point is simply that when trying to create a historical record from an interview process, it helps to not have a friendly interviewer. How many times, if any, did McIntyre challenge anything that was said by the interviewee? There’s two stories, that told on direct and that subject to cross-examination. By having a friendly interviewer and agreeing to not publish until after death, your man McIntyre assured that all there would be for history is the direct and none of the cross. He’s far from the beacon of good sense and enlightenment that you claim him to be.

    Oh, and by the way, Pete, we can’t answer the question as to agenda of Boston College because we don’t know who was interviewed. We do know that the late Mr. Hughes and Ms. Price are not Gerry’s biggest fans. Where’s the interview from a Gerry fan? Only time will tell, or maybe not, since they could have interviewed but never publish. We’d have to have access to some “original” list of interviewees and see if there’s a selection bias. And if any such bias, then ask, inadvertent or intentional.

    Lastly, loved this from the joint Moloney/McIntyre piece:

    The subpoenas that have been served are based on an unproven assertion: that an interview given to the college by a former Irish Republican Army activist, Dolours Price, could shed light on a 40-year-old murder and should be surrendered.

    Don’t worry fellows, when the US District Judge reviews the documents in camera, he or she will know whether the assertion is “unproven”.

    And the both of them must be entirely stupid to write this:

    They do not know because the legal basis for the subpoenas is deeply flawed, the result of either rank incompetence or sleight of hand.

    The dumbasses might want to read this:

    http://www.gibbonslaw.com/news_publications/articles.php?action=display_publication&publication_id=2748

    Oh, and Pete, do you otherwise question contradiction? Echo chamber for Sinn Fein exasperation? Why wouldn’t Sinn Fein instead be celebrating in the street? They got Moloney and McIntryre to write:

    A whole year passed before action was taken. When the police service did move, it was within weeks of Sinn Fein’s remarkable electoral comeback in the general election in the Republic of Ireland. In that election, Gerry Adams was elected to the Dublin parliament and is well-placed to lead his party into government next time. Only then did the PSNI crank into action. Was that just a coincidence?

    So they got their adversary, McIntyre, to be the one to say that all this is politics and not justice. A good thing if you can get it. And certainly much better than you being the one saying it (hard to claim “self-serving”).

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  14. oracle (profile) says:

    i’ll just slip your name into the convulsion column then Slappy, guess i’ll have to add idiot to bitter and twisted now for the McIntyre discription words.

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  15. aquifer (profile) says:

    ‘who is turning the screw on Adams and why now?’

    An accomplished subversive intimately involved with a movement that maimed and murdered for a generation, could he still believe himself to be the real provisional leader of the all-island republic, entitled to do anything against current laws to establish a unified state?

    What wouldn’t he do to turn a crisis into an opportunity?

    Any state security service could be out to make sure he does not profit from financial collapse, but he has earned the right to be hated by many others.

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  16. Into the west (profile) black spot says:

    I find it hilarious , in the sense of being completely hypocriticial
    that many posters, commentators, bloggers ( think ATW )
    who are virulently opposed to the armed struggle, and
    condemn the tactics of the IRA at every opportunity ( think alias )
    bring McIntyre up to attack SF; he’s their poster boy.

    e.g I asked Vance once about McIntyre’s past armed actions.
    Vance replied ” He’s done his time”
    Priceless esp when his next post opposes
    “terrorists in gov’t”.
    We’re not stupid: baker, Vance, Alias etc OK
    we know what you’re doing, we can see you ..

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  17. Rory Carr (profile) says:

    While not finding it exactly hilarious, I did have a wry little chuckle at this excerpt from the Boston Globe’s editorial calling on Boston College (BC) to hand over the material sought:

    “And if the US government refuses to honor this British request, it could reasonably expect Britain to put up similar roadblocks down the line…”

    On second thoughts though it does grow increasingly funny.

    Aah, no. Brits disobeying the Yanks. Your kidding? No, really? Stop it! Your killing me. Ho ho ho ho ho…

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  18. Reader (profile) says:

    into the west: …bring McIntyre up to attack SF; he’s their poster boy.
    I think it’s perfectly possible to disagree strongly with someone’s beliefs while acknowledging they still have some principles and integrity.
    Unlike SF.

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  19. Neil (profile) says:

    I think it’s perfectly possible to disagree strongly with someone’s beliefs while acknowledging they still have some principles and integrity.
    Unlike SF.

    So did SF have integrity while McIntyre was behind them 100%, or was it that McIntyre only attained principles and inegrity once he ceased his support?

    Seems like principles and integrity are things that you either have or you haven’t. I would assume you hate SF and as such you think McIntyre has principles and integrity as he speaks out against them, I just wonder did he suddenly become principled once he left, or did you think SF were principled back in the old days but not anymore?

    Or is it simply that he criticises the shinners and as such you find that he’s now a bit less repellant than he was before? He’s ceratinly expressed the view that the days for violence have passed, though I get the impression (and I could be wrong) that he would have been happier if the Provos had held onto their weapons and continued the struggle.

    If that were true would you still feel he was principled? Or is he only principled as a result of the SF/Provo backed peace process, which removed the ability of some folks to continue the struggle, and forced him into the principled position of agreeing with your good self and criticising the shinners?

    I like McIntyre, I enjoy reading his stuff and agree with him most of the time. I just think that suggesting that you agree with a mans principles because he was forced to opt out of fighting and was sufficiently pissed off at the way the war was brought to an end that he regularly criticises SF is, no offence, horseshit.

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  20. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Right, short reality check. The truth is that this subpoena was sealed. We don’t yet know who sought it or for what reason.

    Accordingly anyone pimping round a conspiracy about a subpoena they cannot have read ought to be treated with the greatest of caution.

    I don’t suppose that will stop anyone airing their own speculative thoughts, just try not to get thick with others who, with the same zero level of evidence as you, beg to differ or question your reasoning.

    And for anyone suggesting this is another anti Adams blog from Pete, like ‘And Now What’, can you go back and re-read the blog (especially that last quote from the retired professor from Wisconsin?)

    I don’t mind people going 10 rounds with any of our bloggers, it’s part of the deal that you should not get away with anything Scot free.

    But I do draw the line at having them deal with flak that’s aimed at something that was not said or even hinted at in the body of the piece.

    On McIntyre’s harsh words aimed at Niall O’Dowd, all I can say is fair play to O’Dowd for publishing them. And even if O’Dowd is taking Sinn Fein’s line on this (judging by my own visit to Boston last year, the Sinn Fein President is a popular figure in those parts), it’s not a cardinal sin for a newspaper editor to have politics and express them.

    That said, I’d be much happier to see his working out than just hear a repetition of the sort of conspiracy theory that’s plagued this story from the start.

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  21. Alias (profile) says:

    The subpoena was sealed but not the description or purpose of it so it is untrue to say that no one can know either. The subpoena stated that it was seeking information about murder and conspiracy to commit murder from statements made by Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes.

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  22. Nunoftheabove (profile) says:

    “..pimping round a conspiracy about a subpoena they cannot have read ought to be treated with the greatest of caution”.

    The implication being that we need to be told to treat it with caution ? Come. The. Fucking. Fuck. On.

    And as for “it’s not a cardinal sin for a newspaper editor to have politics and express them”, most of the adults among us had that figured a while ago too, thanks.

    It might just perhaps be a little more – to sound dreadfully old-fashioned – honest, if those holding those opinions had the integrity to admit that they held them and to quit coming dangerously close to claiming that what they write/publish is impartial, still less objective.

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  23. Alias (profile) says:

    The conspiracy theory would be the claim that Adams is the person of interest to the police when, in actuality, the named person of interest is Dolours Price, and not Gerry Adams.

    You can speculate that the target is Adams and not a dissident but that wouldn’t be confirmed by the information at hand or consistent Mr Adams’ history as a protected species.

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  24. HeinzGuderian (profile) says:

    Great post Orc.

    Nail on the head.

    ‘It’s either our way,or you’re part of the highway.

    This is Gerry. He’ll explain the rules’…………….:(

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  25. Reader (profile) says:

    Neil: So did SF have integrity while McIntyre was behind them 100%, or was it that McIntyre only attained principles and inegrity once he ceased his support?
    Was he ever behind the party 100%? Or did he just, like 90% of people, go with whatever was the best fit to his beliefs at the time?
    I can’t really understand people who put their mind and conscience in hock to a political party.

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  26. Reader (profile) says:

    Neil: I just think that suggesting that you agree with a mans principles because he was forced to opt out of fighting and was sufficiently pissed off at the way the war was brought to an end that he regularly criticises SF is, no offence, horseshit.
    I don’t remember saying I agree with his principles. I simply acknowledge that, unlike most party hacks, at least he has some. I also enjoy the fallout, but that is a separate matter.

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  27. [...] “He is merely behaving as an echo chamber for Sinn Fein exasperation…” Slugger O’Toole [...]

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