Did local media have a role in the Boston College case?

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I’ve previously noted how some local media seems to get a free pass from the PSNI over their sources/stories while others are dealt with more proactively and recently we’ve seen the press collectively oppose attempts to turn them into an evidence gathering arm of the state.

The ongoing legal case to access the Boston College oral history archive may indicate elements of the media already acting in that evidence gathering capacity (hopefully unwittingly).

It is impossible to know which arm of the British State initiated the request to access the Boston archive and on exactly what basis that demand was made; that information is hidden by the US Attorney General at the request of the British. However, we can surmise some aspects from the published record of Exhibits and the two leading submissions in particular:

Exhibit 1: article by Ciaran Barnes from the Sunday Life

Exhibit 2: article by Allison Morris from the Irish News

Both articles claim to have some basis in direct interviews with Dolours Price or hearing tapes involving her. Given the use of these articles to expedite the subpeona, it is surprising these publications and journalists have not been more proactive in examining this issue, their role in its advancement and just how valuable their articles are as a possible central plank for legal action.

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  • Mick Fealty

    Personally, I’m not writing anything more on this at least until the Boston court has its say. And maybe not even then.

    In my view there has been way too much unfounded speculation (some of it arrant nonsense) on this story already for my liking.

  • Mark McGregor

    Mick,

    If you have an issue with my blog you have numerous ways of raising it – a comment on the content, a blog of your own, an email or a telephone call.

    Your comment certainly doesn’t address anything I’ve written and while it does introduce the phrase ‘unfounded speculation’ on my linked content it doesn’t bring anything to support that in relation to my piece.

    So you aren’t going to write anything on this? Can I ask why that ground shaker is introduced on my entry? Surely you could have just continued not writing about it without introducing that interference on my piece?

  • Alias

    I think it’s a little farcical for Anthony McIntyre to suddenly be converted to the “Securocrats v. Adams” spiel when he has spent years dismissing it, and pointing out that the security services acted to bring the Shinners into the political fold rather than exclude them from it. So to come up with this new theory that it is a securocrat agenda aimed at stifling the political progress of the Shinners in Ireland flies in the face of everything he has written thus far on that theme. McIntyre isn’t nimble enough to jump through those hoops…

    The person of interest is Dolours Price, not Gerry Adams so there is defence based on the need for protection of ‘the new dispensation’ and the need to honour any backroom promises that may have been given to that effect.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Alias

    “backroom promises ” – a fuller explanation of what you mean by this is necessary, ideally an evidential explanation.

  • Alias

    Well, you could have clicked on Mark’s links and found the homepage:

    Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre also sought leave to intervene on their own merits in the “Boston College Tapes” action, in support of Boston College’s Motion to Quash. If successful, they will be granted leave to join the action as plaintiffs, seeking to compel the Attorney General to abide by his obligations under the US-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. They will ask the Court to order the Attorney General to take cognisance of solemn promises made by the U.K. Government to the U.S. Senate that it would not ‘reopen issues addressed in the Belfast Agreement, or [ ] impede any further efforts to resolve the conflict in Northern Ireland.’

    Also, to correct a typo: “…so there is no defence…”

  • Mick Fealty

    Mark,

    Fair enough to cite the articles being presented to the court in Boston. But it’s hardly surprising that neither journo has commented. Why would they, at least until there’s a further development?

  • Mark McGregor

    Mick,

    Sorry? Their articles have been submitted by some unnamed wing of the British state as evidence.

    Call me old fashioned but being an evidential element in an international legal case is something regional newspapers and the journalists involved should be expected to note?

    I know you don’t want to comment but the Irish News and Sunday Life being central to the case- surely they should mention it? Just the once?

  • Mick Fealty

    Mark,

    It’s certainly solid background, but the real and most interesting story here is why the British authorites are going after Price (after McGeough, it cannot be a complete surprise)…

    And then there’s what the US judge makes of it all…

  • Alias

    Incidentally, the smoking gun in Moloney and McIntyre’s case regarding the “solemn promises” appears to be this letter from then Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, to then US Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, dated March 31, 2006:

    “Dear Al: At our meeting on 6 March I said that I would write to clarify the UK Government’s position relating to the extradition of individuals wanted or convicted of terrorist offences associated with the Troubles in Northern Ireland who are currently in the United States.

    In September 2000 the Government decided that it was no longer proportionate or in the public interest to seek the extradition of individuals convicted of terrorist offences committed prior to 10th April 1998, the date of the Belfast Agreement. The new treaty does not change this position in any way.

    We have also made it clear that we want to address the anomalous position of those suspected but not yet convicted of terrorism-related offences committed before then. Had these individuals been convicted at the time of their offences they would, by now, have been able to apply for early release and so find themselves in a similar position to those already covered by the Agreement. Unfortunately, the legislation that would have resolved this anomaly had to be withdrawn due to a lack of cross-party support.

    However, the British Government remains keen to make progress on this and I can assure you that when the new treaty was being negotiated, there was no intention on our part to make it easier to target these people, whose position we accept to be anomalous.”

    Essentially, the British government gave an assurance to the US, referenced by the Senate as conditional to its support, that the new treaty would not be used for the purposes for which it is currently being used, i.e. against “those suspected but not yet convicted of terrorism-related offences.”

  • Pete Baker

    “I know you don’t want to comment but the Irish News and Sunday Life being central to the case- surely they should mention it? Just the once?”

    Mark,

    What do you want them to mention? That someone else cited them in a subpoena?

    Ed Moloney’s book is equally central. In that they both indicate the specific information contained in the archive. That’s the extent of their worth to the legal application.

    Alias

    “Essentially, the British government gave an assurance to the US, referenced by the Senate as conditional to its support, that the new treaty would not be used for the purposes for which it is currently being used, i.e. against “those suspected but not yet convicted of terrorism-related offences.””

    Wrong.

    Moloney/McIntyre have argued that any such agreement, although not ratified by law, applies specificly to Dolours Price as a resident of Ireland [Republic of].

    a) It’s not ratified by law. Hence the rigmarole over the on-the-runs legislation. See Gerry McGeough.

    b) The letter is an attempt “to clarify the UK Government’s position relating to the extradition of individuals wanted or convicted of terrorist offences associated with the Troubles in Northern Ireland who are currently in the United States.”

    It’s not a smoking gun in this case.

    Btw, I’ve posted on this topic recently too.

  • Alias

    Pete, the topic is referenced in my post at 9:39 pm: “Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre also sought leave to intervene on their own merits in the “Boston College Tapes” action, in support of Boston College’s Motion to Quash.”

    That was filed on 08/31/11, is not referenced in your post, and can be found here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/63830780/Dornan-Brief (the only online link for it).

    Filed 08/31/11 Page 4 of 8:

    The Senate is aware that concerns have been expressed that the purpose of the Treaty is to seek the extradition of individuals involved in offenses relating to the conflict in Northern Ireland prior to the Belfast Agreement of April 10, 1998. The Senate understands that the purpose of the Treaty is to strengthen law enforcement cooperation between the United States and the United Kingdom by modernizing the extradition process for all serious offenses and that the Treaty is not intended to reopen issues addressed in the Belfast Agreement, or to impede any further efforts to resolve the conflict in Northern Ireland.” Exhibit A, CRS-28. Relying upon assurances evidenced by an exchange of letters between the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States, the Senate noted with approval: “[T]he statement of the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, made on September 29, 2000, that the United Kingdom does not intend to seek the extradition of individuals who appear to qualify for early release under the Belfast Agreement.” Id, CRS-29. Furthermore, the United Kingdom Home Secretary, in a letter to the Attorney General of the United States on March 31, 2006, reiterated this position: “In September 2000 the Government decided that it was no longer proportionate or in the public interest to seek the extradition of individuals convicted of terrorist offences committed prior to 10th April 1998, the date of the Belfast Agreement.” Id, CRS-30.

    That is one of 8 pages but, contrary to your erroneous claim, it is self-explanatory that the objection is based on an assurance given to the US in the “smoking gun” letter, and relied upon by the Senate, not being honoured by the British state.

    The other pages make other objections, one of which is “an offense allegedly committed in the jurisdiction of the Republic of Ireland” by an Irish national Page 5 of 8).

    To your A & B points: A isn’t disputing any part of my post since I made no related claims, and B is “a smoking gun in this case” because “the Intervenors” have cited it as such in page 4 above.

  • Alias

    One other point about ‘B’: if that bold qualifer of being in the US was essential to the proceedings then, of course, there would be no proceedings since Ms Price is not in the US. It is the ‘extradition’ of evidence, not people, that is relevant,

  • Nunoftheabove

    Alias

    Rendition might be the better word.