Boston College: an end of history

Slugger readers will be familiar with the ongoing saga around the content of, and, access to the archives of the Belfast Project which were deposited with Boston College (where Irish government documents on decomissioning have also been deposited). The outworking of the litigation by which the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team are attempting to gain access to some of the material may now even lead to the intentional destruction of the archive by it’s creators.

So, methodologically, the Belfast Project is now close to a failure, of sorts. Firstly, I’m not going to shy away from one of the intrinsic methodological problems, which was the release-on-death pact made with each individual. At the same time this is liberating and offers the opportunity to point score with no recourse. The removal of the possibility of debating the content requires the addition of a further interpretative layer to unpick the interplay between the individual’s experiences, memory and motivations to fully evaluate their contribution.

But, both as a historical, and as a human archive, the collected experiences, accounting of actions and general contextualisation in each individual’s life is an invaluable resource for those seeking to explore the age-old issue of how and why societies can take such an apparently illogical course as violent internecine conflict. Histories tend to be narrated by academics or prominent individuals and the learning derived from past experience is often heavily mediated by the author. The Belfast Project, in contrast, offers the possibility a diverse, multi-vocal first person subaltern narrative that would afford a much broader understanding of the complexity of personal motivation, memory and the role of the individual. And a truth process, in miniature, if you like.

An obvious past exponent of this methodology is Gitta Sereny whose work with Franz Stangl (Treblinka commandant) in Into That Darkess and with Albert Speer (for her biography of him) provides extreme cases of using first person narratives to allow the reader to make their own assessment of the individuals. I’m making a comparison of the method rather than the content here, but I think Sereny’s work is invaluable for anyone who wants to try and get to grips with the how and why of Third Reich history as opposed to the details of what happened (oddly, though, I feel Sereny fails to close the deal with her subjects but that is another matter entirely). But there is a lesson there in trading off the wider value of such material to society against the obvious pain it may also cause.

Having collected interviews from 60-80 individuals, though, the Belfast Project now need to absorb some of the responsibility for what now appears to be a failed curation strategy as the deposition with Boston College does not appear to have been grounded in a sufficient evaluation of the potential for the agreement with interviewees to be honoured by Boston College (see the recent Belfast Project statement here). Ironically, retaining the material and citing journalistic privilege may have been a more secure approach to have taken.

A second issue with the PSNI pursuit of some of the Boston College material is in it’s evidential value. I batted this issue around on Twitter yesterday (thanks to @ciaranmacairt, @diplocksystem, @Igology, @tcgriffin and @kateyo) and there was no informed consensus on the evidential value of the interviews for either a prosecution against the interviewee, or, a third party (any legal eagles are more than welcome to provide some expert analysis here). The significance of this is central to evaluating the HET and PSNI’s pursuit of the archives (and the implications of that pursuit). The precedent of acquiring one sample of the archive material for investigative purposes would surely require the subsequent seizure of all the archive material since, by definition, it includes voluntary statements regarding a series of breaches of the law. If not, the reasons for selective pursuit would have to be explained by the PSNI (and also whether they are being as energetic and vigorous in their pursuit of similar material held by the likes of the UK’s Ministry of Defence).

In either case, the successful acquisition of any of the archive, for what I suspect is very questionable evidential value, will now precipitate it’s destruction (as indicated in the Belfast Project statement). Presumably the PSNI and HET must also have factored this into their attempts to access the material and surely they will now want it all to prevent it’s destruction as that is hardly one of their intended outcomes. Unfortunately, the Belfast Project lesson will make it unlikely that the project will be replicated and it will bring an end to history as a project for either reconciliation, or, as a way to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

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  • HeinzGuderian

    If only the Paras at ‘bloody’ sunday had thought of this first.
    I’m sure the families of the deceased on that day would have had no objection to the ‘truth’ only coming out after the soldiers were dead.

  • dwatch

    Journalist Ed Moloney & Boston College were extremely foolish for believing they could make up their own laws, over and above the laws of both the US & UK governments regards keeping archives on terrorist IRA, UDA & UVF murders in a college file away from government eyes.

    Maloney’s ultra ego and his biggest mistake was telling the whole world in his book were these files were kept.

  • sliabhluachra

    Regarding the Nazis: I watched a documentary of Otto Skorzeny the other night (Hitler’s Idols). Skorzeny, who lived in Ireland for a while, was described by Churchill as the most dangerous man in Europe. Check out Wikipedia; his exploits (as told in his autobiography) are legendary and he was in the frame for The day of the Jackal movie, the Odessa originator etc. I have read much on him over the years. A truly exceptional warrior.
    Trouble is, the documentary debunks all of that. His most famous exploit was springing Mussolini. The documentary interview ex Waffen SS, who say Skorzeny was a chancer who jumped on the bandwagon and ditto with everything else he did.
    Personal accounts are just that: often a load of self serving waffle.

    Danny Morrison recounts how Tom Hartley donated material (IRA statements and the like) to the National Archives in Belfast where the Special Branch were immediately tracing them for fingerprints etc. Morrison was charged as his pawmarks were on an IRA statement Hattley donated. But Banger’s brief was able to show his pawmarks were also on a UVF statement and asked why Morrison was not charged with UVF membership. (He was acquitted.)
    I hope Dolours Price is not done over this. I do hope someone else ends up answering questions he cannot wriggle out of. This gentleman was able to boot out Ivor Barr and many others. No one with clean hands could have been that successful. And some ex IRA volunteers, as we are constantly reminded, have very dirty hands indeed.
    On the subject of Dolours Price, who felt that “All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand”: The Provos had no sympathy for her in that. She deserves peace. Not so those who got her to do dastardly deeds and have not even the balls to man up to it.

  • Dec


    ‘This gentleman was able to boot out Ivor Barr and many others.’

    I’m assuming you mean Ivor Bell. Anyway, you might wish to consider the fact that Mr Bell resides, to this day, in west Belfast and you could contrast his (Bell’s) departure from the IRA with the nature of other organisations’ ‘change of leaderships.’

  • Jud

    Moloney was asking for trouble when he published the book drawing from the archives. It was obvious this would stir up a hornet’s nest, so he has either always wanted this to happen or was extremely foolish.

    McIntyre can only fall into the foolish category. I bet he is really regretting his involvement in this now. He has made some very informed and legitimate complaints about mainstream republicans in recent times, but the damage from this goes will beyond that.

    The morality is tough on this one, but in the end I think it is better to have records from the people involved preserved for future access than not.

    These guys have very likely ensured there will be no first hand accounts to be read on a massively important period of our history, as it looks likely this stuff will be destroyed, and who else in their right mind would now come forward to participate in a similar project?

  • sliabhluachra

    Dec: Indeed. Romans 3:23

  • Munsterview

    Dec. Historical accuracy was never the strong point of a certain posters, if memory serves my right I can remember the same individual describing some Free State Officers in North Kerry as ‘boiling’ some person they were interviewing!

    This particular poster and myself had a lively bit of an exchange on that one, I think terms as applied to a certain prominent Southern Sports Journalist occasional intemperate rants such as ‘ tired & emotional’, would not be entirely misplaced in relation to most of the contributions of this individual, especially his anti-Provo ones. That, a limited knowledge and lack of objectivity where the Provos are concerned, seem to be the salient characteristics of his contributions.

  • cynic2

    “. I batted this issue around on Twitter yesterday (thanks to @ciaranmacairt, @diplocksystem, @Igology, @tcgriffin and @kateyo) and there was no informed consensus on the evidential value of the interviews ”

    Well with that learned audience that surely is definitive!

    “the successful acquisition of any of the archive, for what I suspect is very questionable evidential value, will now precipitate it’s destruction (as indicated in the Belfast Project statement)”

    …presumably to prevent any more evidence of serious crimes being released. What morality!

    This is PIRA and the UVFs Bloody Sunday enquiry. Why should it not simply be put in the public domain?

  • cynic2

    “That, a limited knowledge and lack of objectivity where the Provos are concerned, seem to be the salient characteristics of his contributions.”

    Ah. A masterclass in man playing. You must be worried by what he says

  • Munsterview

    cynic2 : not really !

    Sometimes the very silence, here over eight hours of it without response, can also ‘speak’ equally eloquent for the discerning !

  • Rory Carr

    Cynic is being unfair in his sarcastic response to John O’Neill’s comments on the likely evidentiary value of the Belfast Project material and the possibility of that material being destroyed should it become amenable for use in the prosecution of named individuals.

    It would not have been possible for those behind the Belfast Project to collect the testimony of living witnesses had they not given assurances as to the inviolability of their testimony from seizure and attempted use as evidence in prosecution of named individuals. Without such a guarantee it is inconceivable that any of the participants would have been willing to co-operate in the collection of this valuable historical record – the material would not be there, would not be amenable either to present-day prosecutor or future student of history.

    It is the failure of those who collected the testimony to ensure that the safeguards they promised were sufficient that now seems likely to ensure the loss of much of that material to future historians. As to whether or not present-day prosecutors can make much evidentiary use of any of the material so far collected well, as they say, on that matter the jury is still out.

  • Brian Walker

    I’m not quite clear how damaged the Boston project is. I assume the archive is intact; was it to be added to? Certainly the threat of PSNI access is damaging. The whole business underscores my view of the benefit of some sort of amnesty or declaration that prosecutions for pre-1998 offences aren’t in the public interest.This would flow from the logic of the Secretary of State’s supposed preference for giving access to offical files to historians and others. Why hasn’t he said something about this? Presumably because it would land him in some conflict with the independence of the PSNI and since the devolution of justice and policng , his locus is unclear. The agreement to wait until death for disclosure was also surely a problem although perhaps an unavoidable one. It could result in partial and perhaps misleading accounts of the same set of incidents. But better to live with that than what appears to be the present cloud over the whole project.

  • sliabhluachra

    Brian Walker: If Ian Brady says where the last of his Moors victims is buried, should he be released?
    Colin Blanchard was the lynchpin of a child sex abuse ring. Vanessa George, a member of his ASU, still refuses to say which infants in her care she sexually abused even though the police almost begged her to talk. If she does turn (human), should they all be released from jail?
    Case in hand: Boston College gave some guarantees they cannot keep. It is no skin off their nose and, for BC, it is a small affair. Two journalists or, if you prefer, a journo and a wanna be, worked on that basis and got participants to (foolishly) give their side of the story.

    One of them, Dolours Price, has apparently said some incendiary stuff about someone who may have given the green vlight for INEXCUSABLE CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, crimes comparanble to those of the Argentine junta.
    That self same person has been at the centre of very serious allegations from all quarters for many years. Are you arguing that Ian Brady should stay in jail and this person should not even be brought to account for crimes that are in the same league as Brady’s?

    History is only a series of data points, doctored primary sources, foggy memories, self serving myths.
    I say: Bring the main criminal to justice, lock him away in The Hague for the rest of his life and let his Manson like groupies write ballads about him.

    On this last point: Goering wrongly predicted at Nuremberg that in 50 years, the Germans would be erecting statues to him. Hopefully, in 50 years the Irish will have removed all semblances of what this cementer of partition gave.

  • Pete Baker


    “I’m not quite clear how damaged the Boston project is.”

    It’s not. Nothing has changed in relation to the material in the archive.

    And despite John’s apparent concern there is little threat of “it’s destruction” [sic].

    The statement referred to, twice, as the “Belfast Project statement” is in the names of Moloney, McIntyre and McArthur – not Boston College.

    And those three individuals no longer have possession of, nor control of, the material in the archive.

  • cynic2

    “unfair in his sarcastic response”


    I really didn’t mean to be but there seems to me to be a startling lack of perspective here at times.

    The Boston team have a job to do. They are academics and historians. But this is a murder investigation – and one of the most reviled murders at that with 10 children left orphaned It was sobering to hear on UK Radio 4 last week the anger, pain and sheer eloquence when one of the children spoke of how he and his siblings had been abused and threatened by PIRA from West Belfast because they even dared to ask for their mother’s body back.

    This material may further the criminal investigation. Why else would PSNI and HET want it?

    I am amazed that so many rational people say that this is a bad things as it may damage the peace process or limit academic freedom. On the scales of justice academic freedom weighs light against the enormity of this crime.

    So do forgive my sarcasm. But when I hear ‘there is no hierarchy of victims’ I also hear the tag line ‘except those WE murdered” and when I hear a hue and cry in the media about more recent murders or child killers, I cannot help but wonder when someone will get around to pursuing the man who ordered this one.

    And if they do and it damages the process, is the process worth having?

  • I’m not sure that nothing has changed regarding the archive, when there are noises from several of those interviewed stating that they want their interviews back. Whether they can enforce that or not remains to be seen. It seems they signed contracts handing the stuff over, but I’d have thought that if someone gives an archive an interview and asks for it back, there’s a moral case that’s hard to ignore for a university, especially on such a charged issue. It’s too early to tell whether this whole thing will have an impact on the archive I think. What it has done though is raise some very interesting issues surrounding how the archive was put together, and how a different approach might be taken in future.

  • Munsterview

    Brian : “…..I’m not quite clear how damaged the Boston project is…..”

    And I am not quite sure as to how this bald, brief statement could be taken as the considered opinion of a professional journalist. Is there a hidden polemic here?

    Of course the Boston project is damaged, it may not be quite dead in the water but to continue sailing metaphors as beloved from another regular poster here, if she were a battle ship on fleet formation, engaged with the enemy, she would have to be withdrawn from the line as she would have been too damaged for use and would have either to be taken for repair or salvage or sunk.

    There is a very complex situation here and yet one with a very simple question at it’s core the answer to which will contextualize this debate and frame it’s parameters : did those involved in the Irish interface between Republican, be they active or former activists and Boston College have the authority to give certain undertakings as they did before collecting this material from co-operating Republicans?

    Assuming for the moment that all concerned in this Irish interface considered that they were acting on good authority, what were their grounds for this authority ? What steps if any did they take in Ireland and the US to test and validate this authority prior to commencing collection and collation of the archived material in question. etc?

    They either knew or ought to have known the likely attitude of the British Authorities, the examples were there from Republican outreaches to South American and South African revolutionary Movements and the counter actions the British Authorities took to attempt to nullify these contacts, which was totally disproportionate to to the immediate value or benefit of these exchanges to Republicans, or to the influence or assistance that Republicans could have given under the constricted circumstances to these contacted radical parties.

    Then there was and is the attitude of the US State Department to consider, to say the least a body that could hardly be described as hostile to their British counterparts in Whitehall or collectively in any way sympathetic to Republicans. In the lead up to and early days of the Peace Process this same State Department had to be over-ridden time and again by Clintons Executive order to keep the process moving.

    Republicans from the ‘stab in the back’ given by the East Coast Wasp establishment in the Irish Republican Army invasion of Canada on, should have appreciated what the State Department was like in ethos. In particular the activities of this same State Department were on record from all during the recent Insurgency and Counter Insurgency where they consistently sided with the UK against Irish interests.

    What led the Republicans involved to believe that this particular leopard had suddenly changed it’s spots?

    Then there is the record of some of the local parties that the Republicans co operated with : all during the so called troubles these parties were hostile to the Republican Movement and its aims and objectives. Time and again the writings of these people on the conflict not alone took a sympathetic view of the activities of the British Army and State, they also by remarkable coincidence paralleled and enhanced the ‘line of the day’ or the ‘line of the time’ coming from Whitehall.

    What led the Republicans involved to believe that here too these particular leopards had also changed their spots ?

    We are dealing with seasoned, experienced Republican operators here, the buck stops with them. They should have got, verified and tested guaranteed legal undertakings from the Boston College authorities before proceeding.

    Did they get these guarantees?

    Big Boys games, big boys rules : many of these former Mainstream Republicans had operated at a senior level or had themselves been key players at various times. They should have known or ought to have known that only the armed aspect of the Struggle terminated for the Mainstream Republicans with the ceasefire. All the main actors then moved their entire operations into a different arena where the games continued.

    Peace for an Empire as I have frequently written here is but an absence of war where they can conserve and deploy elsewhere the resources used in conducting the warfare that proceeded the peace. The empire is first of all about commerce so they want ‘business as usual’ and a return to the status quo.

    The Empire may short term change tactics or methodologies, sometimes abruptly, but long term it’s aims remain the same, controlling and neutralizing the politically dissident element, especially those who like Salmon are using acceptable methods in a political process to win freedom from the Empire by installments..

    In this battle control of hearts and minds, control of narrative becomes the new battle ground and ‘the enemy’ is no more particular how this is done in ‘peacetime’ than they were in the conduct of their military operations in war. Sometime it’s subtle and subliminal : some times it is ‘an-in-your-face-you-surely-cannot-ignore-this’ Casement Diary type of black-propaganda where the actions of the insurgents are paralleled and compared to the most repellant actions of society reviled criminals.

    That the latter tactic has to be embarked on says more about the author of such a polemic than it purports about the subject matter of the polemic per se!

    Wether it is the flail of a broadsword of a polemic black propagandists crudely attempting to smear in a ‘guilt by association’ methodology, or that of the polemic stiletto neatly inserted and quickly withdrawn by a polemic player resorting to a well camouflaged alias, the intent is the same as in the armed struggle, discredit your enemy, discredit him and when this is taken to it is logical extreme as we are witnessing in current International tv, kill him in the most brittle possible public way and piss on his corpse.

    From the Roman Empire to contemporary Afghanistan the modus operandi of Insurrection and State suppression have not altered and neither has the ‘peacetime’ ongoing ‘Diplomacy/Spook’ war ethos.

    The time honored tactics in ‘peace negotiations’ is to divide and fragment the enemy, entering to a strategic arrangement with the largest remaining block at the least possible concession to bring about ‘Normality’

    In this ‘normality’ the second is to attempt further division and recrimination among the main power-block by adopting discrediting tactics against the power block as a whole or against targeted leaders of it for the purpose of weakening the aims, objectives and credibility of the mainstream.

    These senior experienced Republicans should have known or ought to have known all of this before starting their exercise. They have now a simple question to answer : have their activities advanced or retarded the overall credibility of the Republican struggle ?

    Sadly the answer to that is obvious and one can only say to the ‘Irish Desk’ professional complements, well played people, take a bow, so far you are winning on this one !

  • Alias

    Moloney and McIntyre are doing a good job of spinning the line that the breach of faith (the bogus claim that these interviews would not be disclosed to third parties during the lifetimes of the interviewees) lies with Boston College but there is good evidence that Boston College was more circumspect about that and issued no such guarantee. Indeed, according to US court records it appears to have explicitly cautioned Moloney against it.

    Clearly someone told the interviewees that their interviews could not be used against them by state authorities, and that they could accordingly ‘confess’ to crimes without fear of sanction. Even if it wasn’t Moloney and McIntyre who told them that, they had a duty of care as researchers to their interviewees to properly ascertain what level of confidentiality could actually be attributed to the interviews and also to ensure that the interviewees properly understood it. They appear to have failed in that duty.

    McIntyre is also spinning the seperate line that Boston College offered more content to the Court than the Court actually requested. However, he isn’t pointing out that they only did that because they had asked him to determine what content was relevant to the Court’s request but he declined to do so. Having no means to determine it, they supplied a broader range of content for the purpose of allowing the Court to determine it.

    If he was really that concerned that as little content as possible should be disclosed then he could have prevented the borader disclosure than he criticies the college for by the simple expedient of helping the college to determine relevance.

  • sliabhluachra

    Jean McConville is not the only war crime returning to the spotlight. There is also Paddy Jo Crawford, who was hanged by the neck until dead in Long Kesh Prison in 1973 under the orders of the same gentleman.

    After Germany surrendered in 1945, some dedicated SS officers in prison in England thought one of their number was not toeing the Nazi line and so they court martialled and hanged him. The British then hanged quite a few of these gentlemen to show the Nazis were no longer n control.
    Except in one particularly political “movement” in Ireland, as we can see. Why the leaders of that Movement are afraid to pay for what they did is beyond me. A felon’s cap etc.
    All of this material should be released and the main perpetrator, the Teflon Don, arrested. Justice delayed is justice denied.

  • Alias

    sliabhluachra, if Adams is ever prosecuted by the British state for his activities in promotion of its national interests then I’ll retire to a buddhist monastery in Thailand and take to pereinal meditation…

    The point of the subpoena exercise is to ensure that none of these state-sponsored murder gang members disclose any information about their activities outside of official mechanisms.

    It’s about protecting Adams, not prosecuting him.

  • Munsterview

    Well that is that ! Since it would seem that I am more or less in agreement with the 8.08 PM post of Alias, that’s me off to the doctor on monday for my first medical checkup of the new year!

    In regard to the other (yet again) piece of coat trailing, as I posted above

    “….Dec. Historical accuracy was never the strong point of a certain posters, if memory serves my right I can remember the same individual describing some Free State Officers in North Kerry as ‘boiling’ some person they were interviewing!…..”

  • Alias

    MV, I suspect you missed the 8:21 pm post. 😉

  • Munsterview

    Alias : “…It’s about protecting Adams, not prosecuting him……”

    Ah the master strikes again!

    Basic and simple rule of propaganda, prepare the way, establish what appear to be common frame of reference with your opponent and then, using the established credibility, introduce or super impose the misinformation or disinformation polemic on to the previous ‘carrier piece’.

    The British abuse of the Boston College archive resource is, as I outlined in my above post of 6.31PM, about controlling the narrative of the past for the purpose of furthering political advantage in the present and future, using propaganda and polemic to discredit and diminish the authority the ‘targeted’ enemy leadership.

    In short the peacetime equivalent by the authorities of the infamous conflict ‘shoot to kill policy of the Armed Struggle era’!

    The methodology of this is to spread doubt, confusion and argument to disunite those who should be cooperating in whatever areas possible, no matter how small, in what after all is and should be a common objective.

    As a British MP, Diane Abbott pointed out in the not too recent past, the Brits are experts of long standing in this field !

  • cynic2


    Where to start. You leave such a mine of sophistry that the hardest thing is the choice.

    “Is there a hidden polemic here?”

    Ah Brian. You are clearly anti peace process. Off message. Untrustworthy. Not one of us. A crypto securocrat. That, and not the bald facts, is why your message is seen as critical or the Movement (TM)

    “did those involved in the Irish interface between Republican, be they active or former activists and Boston College have the authority to give certain undertakings”

    My Grandma what convoluted use to try and slip sideways and change the focus away from what certain people did or did not do – like murdering a mother of 10 – and turn it into a mere argument about internal Republican Movement (TM) matters

    “Then there was and is the attitude of the US State Department to consider”

    Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it infamy! Oh we are so oppressed. Remember Mr Obama that there’s an election next year and you will need all those Plastic Paddy votes

    “have their activities advanced or retarded the overall credibility of the Republican struggle ?”

    What credibility? What struggle? Why does it retard the struggle to expose the brutality of certain individuals who were involved in specific terrible crimes.

    Remember – there’s no hierarchy of victims you know. The families in Derry have had their inquiry. There’s pressure on the Murph. Now perhaps its time for the McConvilles and others to see the truth exposed about who killed their mother and why and who ordered it and why.

    “The British abuse of the Boston College archive resource is, ….waffle waffle waffle …………….. to discredit and diminish the authority the ‘targeted’ enemy leadership.”

    Why on earth would they do that when that leadership is their creation/ their apotheosis? Their vehicle for leading the Movement (TM) into the pen of peace? For neutering it militarily and persuading it to take up seats at Stormont, Gawd help us. Let me lead you to the Republican chosen land, my children – joint leadership with Papa Doc and then Pete The Prod in the shadow of Carson’s Statue where we have all got seats in Stormont County Council while the Brits do the difficult stuff.

    No, MV, what is happening is the simple outworking of time and the deliberate refusal of SF throughout the negotiations to allow the past to be closed off. Now it comes back to bite. There are 2500 McConville’s waiting. The truth will out. Slowly and surely.

  • sliabhluachra

    Alias: Bishop Lamont, when facing jail in Rhodesia, rightly said there is a lot to be said for the life of contemplation.

    You could do much worse that joining a Thai Buddhist monastery (not the best place for meditation btw). However, if that is not your bag, never fear. Adams will never be nicked because of what you state in your 8.21 post, which summarises British policy in Ireland since at least the start of the Troubles. Gerry Adams has served that cause well and he deserves at least an OBE for his tangled web (which would be as easily untangled as was Pineapple Face Noriega’s if it suited his masters).

  • dwatch

    “Jean McConville: one of Belfast’s stubborn ghosts”
    A mother of 10, she was ‘disappeared’ by the IRA in 1972. But she will not go away.

    “The Troubles in Northern Ireland created many ghosts, but some of them stubbornly refuse to drift away. I am thinking specifically of Jean McConville, the widowed mother of 10 abducted from her West Belfast home by a large IRA gang in 1972. She was interrogated, tortured and shot before being buried in an unmarked grave, and she comes back, sporadically, to haunt the political career of Gerry Adams.”

  • sliabhluachra

    Cynic2: Your 9.38pm post is beautifullly written.
    Ruth Dudley Edwards has this in today’s Sindo:

    An intersting thing she alludes to, with some charity, is the fate of the Price sisters whose lives, as she points out, were ruined by the people at the centre of this mess.

    When the H Blockers were figthing the good fight, all and sundry were approached to support them. Many did, many others, like Amnesty International, stood by the maxim: No Irish (Prisoners) need apply.

    Now, the interesting thing about the Price sisters is they were banged up with Gerry Kelly, Adams’ mate. Indeed, their father, Albert was a close friend of the Adams family.

    Given all that, would you not imagine that those Sinn Feiners would lift at least a finger to help the Price family?
    See, what suckered a lot of us is we imagined these people had feelings like the rest of us.
    The late great Neil Blaney said he imagined Charlie Haughey was his friend. He realised he was wrong, that Haughey was a power and control freak. Haughey was not alone.

    I guess ordinary, decent Republicans cannot fathom Loyalist charges that they are anti Semite, sectarian and whatever. And most of them are not. But the leaders play a different, deadly game in their quest for power and prestige.

    Ordinary decent people flocked to the cause of the H Blockers. But, as the sad fate of the Price sisters shows, they too were pawns.
    Keeping people in solitary confinement is a recognised form of torture. Why is Sinn Fein not campaigning on behalf of Marian Price-McGlinchey? Do they support the regime she suffers under?

    The Boston project is a red herring. Go watch one of those TV stations that has endless programmes about World War 2 on. Ex Wehrmacht and SS soldiers tell their stories but none mention the nasty stuff, things like strapping Patsy Gillespie to a car and using him as a human car bomb. Those stories are not the type one openly boasts about in The Felons Club, originally set up by the fathers of Gerry Adams and the Price sisters.

  • sliabhluachra McIntyre says: keep the secrets secret. The link beneath the story has the people’s president, Martin McGuinness saying the same.
    John 1:5.

  • Skinner

    I have to say I find the predicament of the researchers and participants in the Boston College project a source of considerable hilarity. What did they think they were doing?! Clearly if you obtain evidence of crime you are duty-bound to hand it over. You can’t just say “yeah but I told the crims I wouldn’t”.

    And this crap about Boston College handing over more than the court order asked them to – that is most probably because Boston College realise they are duty-bound with or without a court order, just like the rest of us.

    It’s the arrogance of the thing, in the face of 10 orphaned children, that leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

  • dwatch

    Once Boston college found out the PSNI were approaching the US government regards requesting the files all they had to do was hand the files lock stock and barrel back to Ed Maloney. It would have been between the US government and him then.

    One wonders would Boston College have been so keen to hand over these files had 9/11 never have happened?

  • sliabhluachra

    Skinner: Some months after a crimnal ASU offed Veronica Guerin, their O/C apparently complained that the media were still going on about her. Loike, it shudda been wather under de bridge loike.

    Have you any opinions on the fate of Paddy Jo Crawford who was hanged by the neck until dead by his fellow PIRA inmates in Long Kesh because they decided he was a tout and therefore acted as judge, jury and executioner or is this just big bulies rules?

  • Skinner

    I do have opinions on that Sliabh – not sure what you mean?

  • Skinner

    “Once Boston college found out the PSNI were approaching the US government regards requesting the files all they had to do was hand the files lock stock and barrel back to Ed Maloney.”

    Except that maybe that act would have got them in hot water with the US authorities. I’m not an expert in US law so I don’t know but it stands to reason that you should not take steps to put evidence of crime beyond the reach of authorities. There seems to be a failure to appreciate fully, in all discussions around the Boston College project, and indeed in the setting it up in the first place, that these records are not just historical conflict narrative but evidence of crime, for which people can and should still be found guilty. It speaks volumes about the individuals concerned and perhaps the approach of British and Irish law enforcement authorities to date that they did not grasp this fundamental point.

  • sliabhluachra

    The apparent murder of Mr Crawford in Long Kesh and his PIRA mates passing it off as a suicide is also in the framework of the Boston Project.

    I remember two incidents from Melbourne where the brother of The Dark lives (thus the t shirst the late Mr Hughes is often shown wearing)

    1. One of the sensationalist news presenters used to often have little crims on telling their story. When a murderer phoned up to meet him to tell his side of the story, the presenter agreed and took along a camera crew to meet him half way across a pedestrian bridge. The murderer appeared and gave the interview, which was abruptly stopped by another burly pedestrian who was in fact a copper who arrested the guy. The presenter showed the arrest on TV and explained he was not in the business of covering up murder and thus the arrest of the murderer.
    2. A thief broke into a car at a university and robbed tapes of a bloke raping children. The bloke, when arrested when the thief passed on the tape, claimed academic freedom and that it was part of his research. The court did not buy it and said academic freedom does not cover raping little children.

    So why should the so called engineers of the Peace Process be different? I do not expect Unionists to campaign for the likes of Marian Price but they should empathise with her. She was led up the garden path and those who used her enjoy the fruit of her dirty labours.
    One can admire a good opponent who gives it his best shot. But there can be no admiration for those who use others to do their dirty work. It should be as true in Ireland as it is everywhere else.

  • Munsterview

    cynic2 : 14 January 2012 at 9:38 pm: MV, Where to start. You leave such a mine of sophistry that the hardest thing is the choice.

    ‘Mine of sophistry ?’

    The last decades of Low Intensity War ( which is still ongoing) in the British Occupied Six Counties of Ireland and issues arising can be very simply and plainly stated, as it revolves around three main issues, the conflict, the conduct of it and the casualties.

    1) The conflict…..

    The main protagonists, The British occupation Forces, their local allies and their proxies conducted a Low Intensity War against those of the Nationalist population, who opposed their presence with Armed Resistance, Irish Republican Army representing most of the combatants on the opposition side.

    For Irish Nationalists this latest war is but one of dozens of wars carried out over hundreds of years against British Occupation Forces, the last major conflict of which resulted in the British evacuation and retreat from Twenty-Six of the Thirty-Two Irish Counties.

    For the British it was but another nasty, brutal, bloody little war, typical of the conflicts that they have fought in dozens of other ex-colonial Countries that they were defeated in and forced to evacuate from throughout the 20th, Century, starting with the Southern Irish 26 Counties..

    These are facts of history uncontested by all Irish Nationalists and Republicans home and world wide or indeed by the International Academic Historical and political communities.

    The main protagonists of the Armed Resistance, the IRA had sufficient support from the Nationalist community in the Six Counties, the Twenty Six Counties, the Irish diaspora abroad and revolutionary comrades such as the African National Congress to make the war unwinnable for the British as one of their leading Generals stated on record.

    Once the British and Southern Irish Government had eventually and reluctantly accepted that this was the situation, their policy changed from attempting to destroy Republicans into one of seeking an accommodation with them and these negotiations led to the Good Friday Agreement which was accepted, albeit reluctantly by the majority of Mainstream Republicans who also entered into a temporary power sharing arrangement with sufficient of the pro-British, pro Union political representatives to form an interim local administration pending conditions for a full British withdrawal from the Island of Ireland.

    2) The conduct of the Low Intensity War

    All wars are brutal, traumatizing, dehumanizing events that take their toll on all the protagonists involved. The current video segment of US Marines urinating on the bloodied, mangled corpses of Afganastani Fighters sum up what is involved. These Marines are an elite unit of the US Armed Forces, they are probably from good family backgrounds etc, but looking at these things is but a distraction and a blurring of the focus from the harsh reality of war.

    In 2011 462 US soldiers died either in armed combat or from injuries arising from combat. 468 US soldiers, the same amount again as died in combat plus another six soldiers committed suicide. While some of these deaths would have paralleled the cause of suicides in civilian society, the vast majority were as result of traumatized war experience and it’s after effects.

    The Nazi treatment of captive Jewish is almost beyond description, both in the Macro scale at the infamous Extermination Camps, but also in hundreds of bloody local massacres where hundreds of mainly women, many pregnant, old people, children, the venerable who could not flee the roundups were killed in the most brutal and appalling manner.

    Within half a century of these brutal events the Israeli Government ordered and the Israeli Intelligence and Defense Forces presided over the same Nazi type massacre of hundreds of elderly men, women, pregnant mothers and children in the Palestinian Sabra Camp in Israeli Occupied Lebanon where dead dogs, goats, sheep and humans were all bulldozed into the same mass graves. No UN or other enquiry on that or other such Israeli massacres of Palestinian, not will there be.

    That is the general nature of war. Low Intensity War is a symmetrical and particularly vicious as with bloody sunday and the Ballymurphy British paratrooper, Irish massacres, when the army cannot come to grips with the Armed Insurgence, then they set out to ‘teach the people that support them a lesson’

    Same tactics as with all regular Armies since the days of the Roman Empire and before! Wars also cost money and so also do trained professional soldiers who are a valuable resource. The Romans perfected a tactic for occupied lands, they recruited local men from pro Roman parties into ‘auxiliaries’ of the garrisoned Regular Army Legions.

    These looked like and acted like full time soldiers but they were part time soldiers send out to
    patrol under Roman Officers who need command experience. These local Pro-Roman tugs had tow main characters, first they were expendable to the Romans, merely existing to save more valuable Roman lives and they were viciously partisan against and far more brutal against the
    local anti-Roman populace than the regular Roman Legions were.

    It may have conserved Roman resources and soldiers lives but it also meant that the local struggle became de facto local civil wars between two contending parties and the same pattern was repeated in British Occupied Ireland, historically and in the last installment of the age old Irish Wars where the UDR were but the latest in a long line of ‘Queens or Kings Irish’ who did the local killings while the English sat it out in their walled towns.

    If all wars are brutal, vicious, dehumanizing affairs, Low Intensity, a symmetrical wars are particularly so. There was another element to the Six-County war in that it was also used as one expedient laboratory to try out and perfect Counter Insurgency tactics that involved counter terror such as the ‘Shankill Butchers’

    There will not, nor can there ever be any impartial, open enquiry into the conduct of the Low Intensity War, and not because of IRA refusal to co operate, but because if the full account of what Kitson and Co were up became a matter of record, Britain would be indicted and shamed before the civilized world!

    3) Casualties…..

    The casualties of war are not just the fallen and the dead, first there are the physically injured that have to live out the remainder of their lives with various incapacities. Then there is the traumatized and psychological effects, not so obvious or appreciated but often these injuries are even more devastating than the physical injuries.

    This not only apply to the main protagonists engaged in armed combat, it all so applies to the to those who become victims due to ‘collateral damage’ who while secondary and not the intended targets, they never the less suffer the same injuries physically and emotionally as the main protagonists.

    There are no hierarchy of victims when it comes to relatives and friends of survivors, the grief and loss is the same for all concerned irrespective of whether they are Irish or British, Catholic or Protestant. The casualties of war are not just the dead or injured, they are all who have been injured and are living a lesser quality of life as result of the war.

    When some posters here single out some unfortunate victim and use this particular victim for polemic, propaganda purposes against one side or the other, they are then but personalizing the and disguising the real cause of the war as a whole. Without a full examination of the cause of the war, there cannot be any understanding of how this situation came about.

    Name one of the dozens of British 20th, Century anti-Colonial struggles where there was a full examination and accountability of the actions of the British forces and their Local proxy forces?

    This latest Low Intensity War in the British ongoing series of War in Ireland is not any different to date nor is it likely to be, that too is the way of Empires and wars, especially British ones… is the way they have always ‘done business’ and always will!

  • dwatch
  • Munsterview

    Skinner : “…I do have opinions on that Sliabh – not sure what you mean?…”

    Why not look up the postings of the exposed ‘Masky’, I think you will find all of these ranting, issues and obsessions trotted around the circus ring before in a curious and remarkable similar nomenclature to this one trick ‘anti-Provo’ pony. You may then get the clarifications that you seek !

    As I said in a foregoing post, historical accuracy such as a reference to ‘boiling prisoners’ was never a strong point. I did think for a while that it was a certain Sean O”Callahan in his cups but pathetic and all as the same O’Callahan may be now that history and relevance has passed him by, he is not this sad a case.

  • Skinner

    MV – I can’t be bothered to decipher your riddles, Can’t you just say plainly what you mean? I have read what there is to read about Crawford’s hanging.

  • Alias

    The intelligence agencies could have gained covert access to these tapes/transcripts and thereby have of all the information that they feel might be of use to them in their enquiries.

    What is the practical difference between gaining covert and overt access? None whatsoever. These tapes/transcripts are not ‘confessions’ that could be acceptable to a court as evidence of any sort – and all states have very strict laws about confessions.

    The political difference, however, is that the state’s policy of concealment of information pertaining to the conflict is reinforced, with all participants now fully aware that they should not disclose information to the public outside of official state mechanisms for disclosure – none of which exist.

    It would have been a better option for the researchers not to have named the interviewees, thereby depriving the state of the legal pretext to request the information. The researchers could have kept the names seperate from the files, only releasing the name along with the file when the actual condition of the contract was met (i.e. when the named person was deceased).

  • Munsterview

    Skinner : unfortunately if one calls a spade a spade on slugger there could be a nasty red card to follow, so talking in riddles is sometimes all thats left!

    All is not as it seems in this debate, nor are all the contributers necessarily the ‘innocents abroad’ that they project themselves to be.

    One of the journalists, a very much pro British player contributed here in slugger weighing in on the pro British side of the debate. He was outed by Mark McGreggor, late of this parish. Read what Mark has to say with regards to this full time, professional, pro British journalist posing on slugger as an ordinary ‘Joe Soap’

    Ciaran is not the only such ‘professional’ sulking in the undergrowth and I have had more than a few exchanges with Mick on this very subject. In my book if a professional Journalist who is himself a player, poses here as ‘just another poster’ then this is not a level playing field.

    Like wise there are some ‘anti-Provo’ posters here who are operating under two or more psudonems, polemic propaganda against existing and former Republicans is far more important than the merits per se of most issues raised here.

    They do however shamelessly seize on any opportunity presented to rattle the bones of selected, unfortunate victims of the troubles in the face of any Sinn Fein or Republican supporter, whatever the issues of the thread or the debate, always concentrating on the same few tragic victims that have widespread recognition and emotive appeal.

    Under normal rules of debate these people could be robustly engaged with, publicly exposed and shown for what they were as with the ‘infamous Masky’ but since here in slugger any attempt to show where the poster is coming from or their hyprocicy is now deemed ‘man play’ they are free to use any and all issues as vehicles for their anti-Prove bile and polemics.

    Most Republicans of course react by simply ignoring slugger as a consequence, which of course, is one of the objectives of these ‘posters’, if former enemies and political opponents can be prevented from direct exchanges, then they are likely to remain estranged and distrusting of each other. That too is part of the deliberate intent of these pseudo posters and that is why they have my opposition and contempt.

    They are not part of the solution, by keeping emotive pots on the boil to suit their own narrow politically impoverished perspectives, they are also reducing slugger to a much lower level than it could and should function as a medium of exchange of views for understanding and appreciation.

    Hearts and minds, Skinner, hearts and minds is what it is about, some of us believe that there could and should be a meeting of both in a commonality of interests. They on the other hand believe every possible mischief making should be availed of to preventing this happening and if that involves regularly rattling the bones of trouble victims, chosen for their emotive appeal in the face of political opponents, they will do so.

    Their focus is in their narrow obsessive sectoral interest and they do not have the remotest interest in ‘The Big Picture’

  • Alias

    Ed Moloney has a good post about why the Shinners are a tad upset about the Boston Tapes project.

  • Munsterview

    Alias : “…The political difference, however, is that the state’s policy of concealment of information pertaining to the conflict is reinforced, with all participants now fully aware that they should not disclose information to the public outside of official state mechanisms for disclosure – none of which exist……”

    I fully agree that this was the British spook inspired methodology used with a view to creating the effects as stated by Alias. Most Universities are conservative by nature, the last thing they need is to be embroiled in contrgvesory, especially an International political one. That lesson will not be lost in other institutions either.

    ( Personally I have deferred my own intended participation in a similar interview exercise with a University History Department, nor would I facilitate contact with others for interview purposes in the present circumstances.)

    However there once it comes to considering the reasons as to why this was done, there is fundamental disagreement and divergence in out views.

  • cynic2

    “They do however shamelessly seize on any opportunity presented to rattle the bones of selected, unfortunate victims of the troubles in the face of any Sinn Fein or Republican supporter”

    “rattle the bones” what a shameless, indecent, heartless, amoral metaphor. You are entitled to your political beliefs but this almost gloating line is too much.

    Rattle the bones of a mother of 10 children, kidnapped TORTURED and then murdered?

    Rattle the bones of completely innocent men and women murdered in cold blood and often in the most horrific ways or in front of their families.

    Rattle the bones of brave but misguided young men induced to continue starving themselves to death for mere political advantage when a deal on the table was concealed from them?

    My but that phrase says so much about your character Sir.

  • sliabhluachra

    In John Ford’s The Informer and, indeed in his The Quiet Man, the “IRA” types are all clean cut, clean living broth of boys, not the lying, conniving, thieving sexual perverts and half mad braggarts so many of them have turned out to be.
    One either believes in prosecuting all war criminals or one does not.
    The Provo leaders hide behind their masters’ laws. But that did not protect Slobo in the end. Go dtiochaidh a la: sa Hague.

  • Skinner

    MV – in my book they are words on a page. You either agree with them or you don’t and you shouldn’t need to know the identity of the poster to take a view.

  • Munsterview

    cynic2 : As your approach that the Crown, State, their agents and local servants did or could do any wrong, or that Republicans could do or can do no right, says all there is to say about your own limited thinking……. sir!

    That is the sort of closed mind thinking and one sided self righteousness that provoked and kicked off four decades of war to begin with when a few basic civil right concessions would have ended it all before it ever started!

    Those young Republican soldiers were volunteers, they knew what they were fighting a war for, they were prepared to die outside on active service and they were equally prepared to die inside as proud Republican soldiers rather than exist as branded criminals and second class citizens in a second class sectarian, discriminatory, petty statelet.

    Your precious and unlamented Orange Junta State lasted well past it’s ‘sellby’ date, it’s gone…… move on!

  • Anthony McIntyre gets a surprise phone call from Danny Morrison live on air this morning. I’ll leave it for others to decide who comes out top of this encounter:

  • sliabhluachra

    McnNtyre begins at 55.10. Interesting Bangers was tipped off.

  • Decimus

    cynic2 : As your approach that the Crown, State, their agents and local servants did or could do any wrong, or that Republicans could do or can do no right, says all there is to say about your own limited thinking……. sir!


    What in your not so humble opinion did the Provos do wrong?…….Sir!

  • Ulick,

    Thanks a lot for that link. That’s the worst performance by McIntyre I’ve ever heard. The most important thing though was the McIntyre’s clear admission that both he and Maloney knew clearly that this was limited by US law. I think that means that the debate shifts to some extent to who should have told the interviewees what.

  • sliabhluachra

    I give this boxing match Ulick pointed out to Danny Morrison by points. No contest. Though Morrison is a much better performer than McIntyre, Morrison, as pointed out by myself and other democrats here, was correct to point out that McIntyre and Moloney judged it legally wrong from the beginning. The compeer, William Crawley, points out that, unlike Moloney and McIntyre, he is a lawyer and he repeatedly points out the very clear disclaimer Boston College used. Morrison quite fairly and properly points out that Moloney and McIntyre could be accused of felon setting, and that “as a Republican”, McIntyre should have not fallen into that obvious bear trap. Morrison complains that “other people” were named and that all of them were “supporters of Gerry Adams”, who is not explicitly named by Morison.McIntyre repeatedly says that he feels Provos will attack his family and Morrison ridicules that. Both omit to mention that McIntyre’s family have been attacked before by Provo fellow travellers. Morrison says McIntyre was “never afraid of Republicans”. Both claim the others’ websites demonise their enemies.Morrison points out that “people are going to be arrested” and that McIntyre should not have helped that process.When Crawley asks McIntyre if Jean McConville’s fam8ily have any rights, he gives a predictable and waffles a quasi Provo line. Morrison is not really quizzed about it but he won this skirmish hands down because McIntyre played by Provo rules.
    Background: Jean McConville, Tom Oliver and many others were executed by brave PIRA volunteers, usually, it seems, acting on the orders of a notorious Ballymurphy resident. When they did what they did, as Volunteer soldiers, they knew the risks they were running: do the crime, do the time. Torturing and killing old ladies is not a childish prank that can be laughed off. The notorious Ballymurphy godfather should be held accountable for his unspeakable crimes if, as seems the case, he was their main architect.
    ps: Check out the text comments later on in the programme.

  • Mark

    The last five comments from the previous page are missing ?

  • Mark

    McIntyre sounds like a man under pressure . It’s a little disingenuous for him to state he had nothing to do with the production of Voices from the grave . It was his interview , they were his questions . It will be interesting to find out what happens in court at the end of january .

  • John Ó Néill

    Still no takers for an assessment of the evidential value of the interviews? Is it admissable as evidence in court?

  • sliabhluachra

    John: An ex Branchman thinks it is admissable but he would say that, wouldn’t he?

  • Alias

    John, it’s all classed as hearsay under both US and UK law. Contrary to popular myth, hearsay is any statement made outside of the court. In other words, it is not limited to third party testimony. It would only be admissible if the purpose was to prove that a particular statement was made by the accused, but would not be admissable if the purpose was to prove that the accused actually carried out the act of which she is accused, i.e. if Ms Price claimed she drove Ms McConville to meet her murderers then it would be admissable to prove that she made that statement but not to prove anything else. If she is accused of that act then the statement is not admissible. She can, of course, simply deny that she made any such statement to the researchers. The value of the Boston College project to the police is that it may provide ‘tips’ to lead their investigation but it has no value as evidence. As previously pointed out, that value could have been extracted by covert means – and probably was long ago.

  • sliabhluachra

    Last night, I watched a few minutes about Denis Rader, the BTK serial killer. The US cops who finally arrested him, secretly obtained the DNA of his daughter from medical records.
    It is esential for the Peace Process that the PSNI get access to the evidence and it will be up tp a court to decide if it is admissable. Remember: Martin McGuinness has urged us to cooperate with the PSNI.

    Indeed, if the man who ordered the murder of Jean McConville was a man and would man up, a lot of time and further heartache would be saved.

  • Skinner

    Alias – doesn’t it depend whether she was under caution when she made the statements? Though I don’t expect she was.

  • Munsterview

    John : “….Still no takers for an assessment of the evidential value of the interviews? Is it admissable as evidence in court?….”

    Assuming of course that this was the primary intent of the application ? My views on that and those of Alias have come to other conclusions, we but differ on the reasons.

    However if we take it that a ‘court process’ was intended, then it would not be the first time that the nicites of the law were jiggled around to suit the requirements of the moment when a political need arose as with the first Derry Bloody Sunday enquiry or when as with the first appeals of the Maguires etc, when the ‘Appaling Vista’ scenario took precidence over Legal and natural justice.

    In the current Northern situation, we have just a tolerated fudge, an artificial attempt to make an artificial State work.

    It is not pretty, it had to be far too pragmatic in dealing with an appaling Unionist legacy of majority Catholic and Nationalist alienation, to in any way even be the shadow of an ideal democratic solution.

    When readers bear in mind that a former Prime Minister of South Africa, then presiding over one of one of the most repressive regiems known to the modern world, said that he would trade the lot of his repressive leglisation for one clause of the Northern Ireland Special Powers Acts, then there is some indication of where this past was for Nationalists.

    Some time in the not too distant we will have a new constitution for a New All Ireland Irish Republic where we can learn from the past and legislate for the future, looking as to how our sister Republic of Scotland etc will have dealt with their sectarian divisions in their own new constution.

    The present is but something to be endured. The current adminestrative situation in Northern Ireland was the end product of a cobbled together pragmatic solution. In as much as a camel can described as a ‘horse designed by a committee’ we are lumbered with a ‘ship of the desert’ in Stormount.

    It may not be pretty, but it was never intended to be, just something practical for the time being, or to quote Albert Reynols in another context….’ just a temporary little arrangment’

    When forces with a history of polimic opposition to Republicans start using State Resources to carry on a past war rather than concentrating in how they could make themselves more tolerated or the future, then the future they progect for Republicans is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

    All this smacks of short term mischief making by forces who know that they do not have a long term future and who are therefore determined to settle as many ‘old scores’ as possible on their way out!

  • John Ó Néill

    MV – I’m inclined to agree. Logically, if the interviews they want have evidential value, then the whole archive does and so, the pursuit should be the whole lot rather than just a tiny proportion of it. Bizarrely, while they are unsworn statements, the majority of the material constitutes voluntary admissions of (a) membership of an organisation deemed to be illegal by the British government and (b) acts that contravened the criminal code. Whether the statements can then be used in court as evidence against a third party, more than likely without corroborating testimony in court from the interviewee (lets face it, how many are likely to co-operate), just seems unlikely.

    So, what is the purpose in the PSNI pursuing one piece of questionable evidential value as opposed to the whole archive which may have actual evidential value? Niall O’Dowd thinks it is largely a political stunt aimed at Gerry Adams and links that back to motivations different people had in engaging with the project. I think Moloney is a different and more complex case, but it required individuals with a background like Anthony McIntyre etc to get the necessary access to collect the material, if it was ever going to be collected at all. They have been left high and dry in all of this – as Pete mentioned back at the start that this appears, in some respects, no longer anything to do with them. How far their agreement(s) with Boston College would be resolved with issues around copyright and/or intellectual property isn’t clear but the whole thing is now a complete mess. If they can find a way to lever a return of material from BC then I’d imagine it will be given back to the interviewees and a collection like this will never be put together again. Which, in turn, should have compelled the PSNI/HET to calculate that this would be an all or nothing gambit in terms of access: if they get the one bit they’ve asked for, the rest will likely end up being destroyed. So, are the PSNI/HET interested in that one bit only, or, are they calculating that it is a reasonable price to pay for the destruction of whatever is in the remaining 95%+ or so that they aren’t seeking access to?

    The whole episode is either fast-tracking or bypassing a debate around a Truth process.

  • Decimus

    John, it’s all classed as hearsay under both US and UK law. Contrary to popular myth, hearsay is any statement made outside of the court. In other words, it is not limited to third party testimony. It would only be admissible if the purpose was to prove that a particular statement was made by the accused, but would not be admissable if the purpose was to prove that the accused actually carried out the act of which she is accused, i.e. if Ms Price claimed she drove Ms McConville to meet her murderers then it would be admissable to prove that she made that statement but not to prove anything else. If she is accused of that act then the statement is not admissible.


    Surely there are any number of precedents for convictions brought about by the perps confessing to their crimes to cell mates etc? Also surely modern voice recognition technology can identify the speakers on these tapes?

  • sliabhluachra

    If the Queen Ballymurphy Bee is implicated, then he should, if not declared a publi outlaw to be shot on sight as Napoleon was, then he should, at the very least, be arrested and held in solitary confinement like Marian Price and without bail so that he cannot interfere with witnesses.

    Keep your eyes on the prize: a Crown asset who was allowed disappear (ie kidnap, torture, kill and bury like a dog in an unmarked grave) women a la the Argentine junta at will. Of course, such an accused person could always take a lie detector test; these tests are being introduced in pilot studies in Britain.

  • Alias

    Decimus, if you want house plans, I’m your man. For legal advice, ask elsewhere. My legal knowledge is of the general sort only and used entirely at your own risk. 😉

    However, if you are unsure, see Section 114 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 for exceptions that allow hearsay to be admissable.

    Also, the same technological advances that makes it possible to recognise voices makes it possible to replicate them. The tapes could have been interfered with, couldn’t they? They could also have been edited. They’re simply not evidence.

    Is Anthony McIntyre going to appear as a witness for the prosecution in any case against Ms Price? Hardly.

  • Decimus


    I’m no legal eagle myself, but I wondered if the word of a fellow con was sufficient to send someone down then surely a taped confession would do likewise? Is it really possible to replicate someone’s voice in conversations of that length?

  • Alias

    “just a temporary little arrangment”

    Constitutional arrangments are designed to be permanent, never temporary. True, they’re amended as unforseeable circumstances change but they are always amended for the forseeable future.

    That other temporary little arrangment, partition, was sold as the ‘not the freedom we want but freedom to achieve freedom’ but it has lasted over 90 years and will last for as long as unionists want it to last.

    That’s the freedom to get shafted while thinking you haven’t been…

  • Alias

    I’ve no idea how the voice replication works, but it’s apparently flawless. How much of what she said would need to be edited to imcriminated her? A word or a sentence? It doesn’t take many words.

  • Alias

    You might find this useful as an explanation of Section 114.

  • dwatch

    “Is it really possible to replicate someone’s voice in conversations of that length?”

    maybe Steven Rea was his wife’s Dolours voice. After all he replicated GA’s voice during the time he was banned on radio & TV.

    The Price sisters have no doubt had bloody miserable lives. All they had to do was support GA & SF, keep quiet and both of them would have been employed up at the House on the Hill at present like an other former IRA member.

  • Pete Baker

    [on tinfoil hat]

    John et al

    “The whole episode is either fast-tracking or bypassing a debate around a Truth process.”

    It’s an Historical Enquiries Team (HET) investigation. Perhaps you think they should be sitting on their hands while the political parties fail to agree on that “process”?

    We know that Sinn Féin think that. They refuse to co-operate with these investigations.

    “Fast-tracking”? Of an investigation into a 1972 adbuction, murder, and secret burial? A “human rights violation”, no less. It would already have been on their agenda.

    Once they learned that the archive at Boston potentially contained information about that specific “human rights violation” they sought access to the material relating to it.

    There’s no mystery there. And no conspiracy.

    But any eventual report will be handed to the relatives. HET don’t do prosecutions.

    As for Niall O’Dowd and his ‘get Gerry campaign’… Well, you can cite him if you want to. But he has little credibility on this.

  • Decimus


    Thanks for the link. I had a quick look through it, but would need more time to study it in detail. Can you summarise the relevant passages?

  • Decimus

    The Price sisters have no doubt had bloody miserable lives.


    Pretty much self inflicted. Like so many of their peers they are paying the price for a youth spent indulging in some fairly evil shit.

  • Alias

    “Once they learned that the archive at Boston potentially contained information about that specific “human rights violation” they sought access to the material relating to it.”

    That might be a fair point if such dedication was consistent with HET investigations rather than inconsistent with them. As Ed Moloney points out, there are legitimate questions about whether HET has a political agenda and “whether it is a fit and proper agency to investigate Northern Ireland’s bloody past.”

    “Can you summarise the relevant passages?”

    For a small fee. It summarises itself (Page 12 etc).

    The core point is that the statements Ms Price may have made to BC are not legally valid ‘confessions’ of wrongdoing and are not evidence of it. They are simply statements that have no value as evidence but may have investigatory value.

    What is to be proved by the statement “I drove Ms McConville to her death”? That the statement is true? That statement can only be proved to be true if other evidence proves that she drove Ms McConville to her death. The statement itself does not prove it, so it is not relevant to establishing whether or not she is guilty of that which she is accused.

    Just to add, that I hope she does spend the rest of her life in prison if the statement is true.

  • sliabhluachra

    Alias and Decimus: The Price sisters were the monkeys, not the organ grinder. Like good (German?) soldiers, they obeyed orders, took risks, did “what had to be done”.
    Peter Baker gives a link above to one of his threads concerning Gerry Adams, who was the only Cage commander in Long Kesh who refused to burn down his section and face the British squaddies man to man (albeit with a handicap).
    Gerry Adams ha had his cake and eaten it with PIRA. Was he a lweading member of PIRA. Everyone except himself and the People’s President seems to think so. He has talked the talk and no doubt inspired many guls to ruin their lives by joining the Royal Ulster Provisionals.

    Both Price sisters have walked the walk. One of them is being held in solitary confinement, something even Amnesty International has opposed in other places such as “Burma ie Myanmar.

    We can all agree Jean McConville’s murder was one that calls to the heavens for vengeance. Give the Price sisters an amnesty and call in Adams and his cronies for interrogation.

  • John Ó Néill

    Pete – I think you’ve managed to transfer fast-tracking out of context from what I said to answer some imagined point of your own. And then studiously ignore the question of why the PSNI/HET seeem disinterested in the rest of the ‘evidence’ here.

  • Alias

    “Royal Ulster Provisionals”

    Best laugh of the day…

    Both of the Price sisters are anti-Adams camp. That’s the wrong place to be when Adams is in the pro-state camp.

  • dwatch

    “Both Price sisters have walked the walk. One of them is being held in solitary confinement, something even Amnesty International has opposed in other places such as “Burma ie Myanmar”

    I wonder is Amnesty International opposed to”
    “Old Bailey bomber Marian Price to stand trial”

    ‘She is alleged to have provided a mobile phone to the gang responsible for the killings of Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey at Massereene barracks in Antrim in March 2009.’
    Read more:

  • Decimus


    Forgive me if I am missing something, as I said I am not fluent in legal speak, but my interpretation of that document is that oral evidence is hearsay and that hearsay is now admissable as evidence.

    When criminals are convicted because of confessions they made to cellmates it is hard to see how they should not be convicted by the recorded words that camne from their own mouths. I can see your point about tampering with the tapes, but surely that would have to be proven to the satisfaction of the Judge?

  • sliabhluachra

    dwatch: Amnesty International purports to suppose the use of solitary confinement which is a form of sensory deprivation. Of course, as regards solitary confinement and Irish prisoners
    Still, it wil work out ok as the second coming of Jesus wil lprobably hapen before she stands .
    And if the hopeless Harrys had to get a phone from an old wan….
    BTW, wasn’t that the same ruse used in the Omagh stitch up?
    She was pulled in for attending a Republican commemoration on a windy day where a masked chappie read out a statement.
    Let’s pull in the organ grinder who gave more than a mobile phone.

  • sliabhluachra

    dwatch: read your own link, which is relevant here. The evidence against Price? two pieces of hearsay evidence.

    The evidence in the Boston archives? Many pieces of hearsay evidence.

  • dwatch

    dwatch: Amnesty International purports to suppose the use of solitary confinement which is a form of sensory deprivation.’

    sliabhluachra, I wonder what Amnesty International purports to suppose the use of execution recently of two off duty unarmed soldiers and the murder of Jean McConville 40 years ago by republicans all in the name of a 32 county Ireland?

  • sliabhluachra

    dwatch: Ms Price has not been convicted or, I believe, even charged in a British run court for the attack on the soldiers you mention.
    She is being held in perpetual solitary confinement, which is something AI purports to oppose. She is being subject to cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment, which is on AI’s no no list, irrespective of whether the prisoner used violence or not. Geddit?

    Sometimes, I come across people in the prison services and I ask them how they get on. How do paedophiles, child molesters and the like do their time? I would have imagined they do it behind the door, never venturing out, as many of the innocent in British jails that AI ignored did theirs.
    No. They tell me these characters are manipulative, always playing one screw off against another. But they also tell me they do not want to know what the prisoners are in for ,as they treat them all the same, irrespective of how hideous their crime might have been,.
    You have probably never met an IRA Republican who did time and was not a tout. If you ever do, they will tell you, not that you need to be told, that many (Unionist and low life) csrews are vindictive and sadistic and get off on using cruel, inhuman and degrading treatement, something AI oppose in theory at least.
    There are many people in jail for stomach churning crimes. They did the crime and are doing the time. The Price sisters did theirs and are stil suferig as their beliefs no longer with align with those of Adams et al who had a very good war and are now having a lovely peace, sleeping well no doubt, with the innocence of new born babes.
    Certainly, if I ordered the murder/execution of Jean McConville, I would still be having nightmares about it even if I was a TD for the constituency that hid her body.

  • dwatch

    “You have probably never met an IRA Republican who did time and was not a tout. If you ever do, they will tell you, not that you need to be told, that many (Unionist and low life) csrews are vindictive and sadistic and get off on using cruel, inhuman and degrading treatement, something AI oppose in theory at least.”

    sliabhluachra, I wonder what made these so called nasty screws use such vindictive, sadistic,cruel, and inhuman degrading treatment against such decent upstanding high life IRA Republicans??????????????????