Reliance on the Boston tapes would be a long term mistake

1 views

I have no particular sympathy for this frail 77 year old grandfather. There may indeed be short term gains in bringing the case to court. The reliability of the Boston tapes as evidence will be tested. Will corroboration in any form be produced? If the tapes are regarded as sufficient in this case what are the implications of the others referred to, including Gerry Adams? Like lots  of other people I have copious extracts from the tapes and an account based on them sitting in my bookshelves.  

Applying for bail, Peter Corrigan, representing Mr Bell, told district judge Amanda Henderson that the prosecution case was that an interviewee on one of the Boston tapes, referred to only as ‘Z ‘, was his client.But the solicitor insisted the person interviewed on the tape had denied any involvement in the murder.

“During those interviews Z explicitly states that he was not involved with the murder of Jean McConville,” he said.

Mr Corrigan also questioned the evidential value of the interviews, pointing out that they had not been conducted by trained police officers.

“The defence submits that the evidence does not amount to a row of beans in relation to the murder of Jean McConville,” he said.

The solicitor for Mr Bell told Belfast Magistrates Court his client was not involved in the murder of Jean McConville. He said the case against him was based on the Boston College tapes and “the evidence was not credible”.

A PSNI detective inspector, who earlier told the judge he could connect the accused with the charges, rejected Mr Corrigan’s interpretation of the Boston College interview.

He claimed the transcript actually indicated Bell had “played a critical role in the aiding, abetting, counsel and procurement of the murder of Jean McConville

In response to Bell’s court appearance Gerry Adams said  that what happened to the mother of ten was “wrong” and a “grievous injustice to her family”.

Adams goes on to state that:

It is Sinn Féin’s view that legacy issues and dealing with the past, including past conflict events, are best addressed through an independent, international, truth recovery process.

He would say that wouldn’t he? And yet it seems inconceivable that he will feel the hot breath of the law.  You can hear the cry of “political trial”  already. The result I fear will be even more cynicism about politics and the risk of a chilling effect on prospects for wider  truth recovery in the medium term.

Ed Moloney has not yet reacted to the court hearing but he has responded to Mary Lou Mc Donald’s attack on the reliability of  tapes on RTE last night:

On last night’s Late Late Show on RTE, Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Fein trotted out the hoary canard that the Boston College oral history archive had a political agenda when choosing who to interview or not interview for the project.

Long before I left Ireland to live in America, Sinn Fein was employing the same tactic against myself, accusing me of political bias in my coverage of the peace process and in particular claiming that I was prejudiced against and even obsessed with Gerry Adams. It was clear to me then as now what the real purpose of this slur was.

This is an old public relations trick designed to intimidate other members of the media by demonstrating what could happen to them if they followed my example and probed too deeply into the opaque depths of the Provisionals’ internal politics. Unfortunately such tactics all too often work and their result is always to the benefit of the initiators, in this case less scrutiny of their business.

In relation to the Boston project, Mary Lou cites two interviewees to justify this accusation. One was Brendan Hughes, the other Dolours Price. Is she really saying that when it comes to compiling a history of the IRA and the Troubles, the woman who led the first IRA bombing team to London and the man who was Gerry Adams’ closest buddy and whose IRA career is the stuff of which legends are made should be excluded because they and Sinn Fein had fallen out?

So who then, Mary Lou should be allowed to speak for the history books for Sinn Fein and the IRA? Only those who parrot the party line of who was or was not in the IRA? Really? What sort of history would that produce?

 

, , , ,

  • aquifer

    Who ends up in the dock will be randomised by time and circumstance, which could be seen as unfair.

    But then that was the destiny of victims of bombs and bullets.

    A symmetry of sorts.

    The Provos had the chance to negotiate for a wider amnesty and did not pursue it, perhaps thinking that omerta would protect their footsoldiers, or calculating that it was politically useful to keep publicly blaming the security forces despite the actual bodycount.

    Impunity risks engendering another generation of violent separatist wannabees and sectarian assassins, but essentially over 70% voted to move on, and should be allowed to, legally.

  • Dixie Elliott

    “So who then, Mary Lou should be allowed to speak for the history books for Sinn Fein and the IRA?”

    Not Mary Lou as she didn’t know who Ciaran Nugnet, the first Blanket man, was when doorstepped a few years back. And she on another occasion embarrassingly didn’t know most of the names of the Hunger Strikers…

    Mary Lou might be the Vice President of PSF but shes more at ease being the President of the Gerry Adams Fan Club…

    You only have to be good at lying to be good at that job.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    Your headline may be totally correct, Brian. Remember the many high profile cases that collapsed when they eventually got to Court.

  • Neil

    You’re right there Joe. Struggling to think of any high profile successes from the PPS. Still, keeps them in a job.

  • Pete Baker

    Brian

    “The reliability of the Boston tapes as evidence will be tested. Will corroboration in any form be produced? If the tapes are regarded as sufficient in this case what are the implications of the others referred to, including Gerry Adams?”

    You’re at risk of [over]reaching for a conclusion.

    Let’s wait for the actual trial before attempting to assess the evidence. None has actually been produced to date.

    In any event, the transcript referred to is the transcript of the interview with ‘Z’ who, it would appear, implicates himself in the “aiding, abetting, counsel and procurement” of the crime.

    Implicating others in those transcripts would probably fall into the hearsay category without further corroboration.

    I would just add, as I did in my original post, that the only significant, or new, thing Gerry Adams says in that statement is his opening line.

    In a statement today, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said:

    “Due process prevents me from commenting on the recent charging of a man in relation to the death of Jean McConville. This is now a matter for the courts.

    Which is also a first…

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    “In response to Bell’s court appearance Gerry Adams said that what happened to the mother of ten was “wrong” and a “grievous injustice to her family”.

    @Brian,

    This is quite an evolution for the Republican Movement. First, after her death she was an informer and was executed for her role. Then, for years the IRA claimed not to know where her body was buried. Now, her death was wrong. Is this an example of growth on Adams’s part (as is said of American politicians when their positions evolve in a favorable direction)? Or is he simply weaving? Next will he claim that she was killed by loyalists or by the security forces?

  • sherdy

    What will be the reaction of Sinn Fein if there are any more requests for information on the whereabouts of any other of the ‘disappeared’?

  • Charles_Gould

    “Gerry Adams said that what happened to the mother of ten was “wrong” ”

    How much credence can you attach to this sort of statement given that he is widely believed to have been responsible for it, and if so that he is not honest enough to admit *he* was the person responsible for what happened?

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    Curious and sincere question : Can the UK successfuly extradite an Irish TD?

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    The killing of Mrs Conville was not a random event. Who murdered her and who gave the order for not only the murder but the disappearance? Nothing excuses such a despicable event. Will anyone be found to be responsible even though apparently the dogs in the street know the answer? Doubt it. Adams and McGuinness were probably offered the same deal as Michael Collins, with a guarantee that they were “untouchable” and they went for it.