Boston College NI archive materials subpoenaed

There’s been an edited version published of two of the interviews held in Boston College’s Northern Ireland archive – which now also contains the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) archive.  Now the New York Times reports that Boston College has received a supoena for the source material.

In exchange for candor, the people being interviewed were assured that the contents would remain sealed until they were dead.

Now, however, authorities in the United Kingdom want oral histories that were given to Boston College by two members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army for an investigation into murders and kidnappings committed nearly 40 years ago.

The materials were subpoenaed last week by federal prosecutors acting at the behest of British officials, Jack Dunn, a spokesman for the college, said on Thursday.

The NY Times report includes quotes from Boston College, Sinn Féin’s Rita O’Hare, and one of the interviewers, Anthony McIntyre.  But nothing from the “authorities in the United Kingdom”.  As the report admits

Boston College has not yet decided how it will respond to the subpoena, and college lawyers, in trying to learn more about who issued it and why, were told that a court order authorizing it was sealed, Mr. Dunn said.

And, as the report points out

The subpoena puts an uncomfortable light on oral history projects that may offer promises of extended confidentiality that they may find difficult to keep under legal pressure.

“This is our worst-case scenario,” said Mary Marshall Clark, the director of the oral history research office at Columbia University. Interviewers for Columbia projects advise the subjects that whatever they say is subject to release under court orders, like subpoenas, and require them to sign consent forms, Ms. Clark said. [added emphasis]