A legal minefield is causing confusion over whether tapes of interviews with convicted Old Bailey bomber Dolours Price, thought to contain allegations against Gerry Adams and other IRA secrets, could now be handed over to the PSNI.
The mother-of-two (62) died at her home in Malahide, Co Dublin, yesterday — with toxicology tests likely to be carried out following a post-mortem.
Gardai last night said they were investigating what they described as a sudden death.
It’s understood the unrepentant republican hardliner had recently been discharged from hospital after treatment for an illness.
Her death has now drawn fresh attention on a long-running issue over allegations the Belfast woman made about Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams during newspaper interviews.
Ms Price alleged that Mr Adams had ordered the murder of Belfast woman Jean McConville, one of the so-called Disappeared.
Mr Adams has consistently denied the accusation.
She had also given a series of interviews to researchers for Boston College, and said she had told them the same thing, which those involved in the project have denied in legal submissions.
Price was one of dozens of former paramilitaries who gave interviews about their past on the understanding they would not be released until after death.
She alleged that Mr Adams — now a Louth TD — was her IRA commanding officer during the early 1970s.
Mr Adams has repeatedly denied ever being in the IRA.
The PSNI has since been seeking to recover the tapes as potential evidence, which may include secret information about the early days of the IRA during the Troubles.
Using a treaty between the UK and the US, it is also seeking the interviews of others involved in the project.
Boston College and the researchers are resisting demands to release the tapes.
The college and the researchers are also involved in a separate battle over how far to take the fight against the release of any material to either government.
The two men behind the project, journalist Ed Moloney and former IRA member Anthony McIntyre, said last night that the interview tapes would not now be immediately handed over, as some reports had claimed, even though Price is now deceased, and the material would have been released into the public domain anyway.
“The interviews are the subject of a stay imposed by the Supreme Court of the United States and that stay remains in place until that court decides otherwise,” they said.
Mr Adams said he expressed his “profound sadness” at the death of Ms Price.
Dolours Price and her sister Marian were members of a 10-strong Provisional IRA unit which planted four car bombs in central London, including one close to the Old Bailey, in March 1973.
The 10 — including Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly — were arrested at Heathrow Airport as they were boarding a plane to return to Belfast.
The two sisters were sentenced to life imprisonment and started a 200-day hunger strike, which was called off in 1974, as part of a campaign to be repatriated to the North.
Following her release from prison on compassionate grounds in 1980, Ms Price moved to Dublin and married actor Stephen Rea. The pair divorced in 2000.
She became an opponent of the peace process and was critical of Sinn Fein leaders Adams and Martin McGuinness, while aligning herself with dissident republicans.
Her sister Marian (58) had her release from prison on licence revoked in 2011 after she appeared on a platform at a dissident republican Easter rally in Londonderry where a Real IRA statement was read out.
She remains in custody at Belfast City Hospital after being moved from Hydebank Prison.
Sister under armed guard in hospital seeks parole for wake, but is too ill to attend funeral
By Suzanne Breen
Veteran republican Marian Price is too ill to attend the funeral of her sister Dolours, friends of the family have said.
Price, who is being held under armed guard in the psychiatric unit of Belfast City Hospital, hasn’t asked the Prison Service for her to be freed for the funeral.
Instead, her solicitor Peter Corrigan has requested that his client be granted compassionate parole for a few hours to visit the wake house and say goodbye to her sister.
A friend of the Prices told the Belfast Telegraph: “Marian is too weak physically and mentally to go to Dolours’s funeral.
“But even if she were well, she’d rather say her goodbyes in private than amidst a media circus.”
Price (58), who is suffering from lung problems and severe depression, has been imprisoned for 20 months.
A court has heard she is too ill to stand trial.
Her health deteriorated after a year in solitary confinement in Maghaberry Prison.
She is facing charges of encouraging support for a paramilitary organisation after holding a statement which a masked Real IRA man read from at an Easter Rising rally in Londonderry in 2011.
Price was granted bail on that offence, but her licence was then revoked by the then Secretary of State Owen Paterson.
Her lawyers claimed he’d no right to do so as she’d been
granted a royal pardon when freed from jail in 1980. The Government says this pardon has been lost or shredded.
Marian and Dolours Price along with Gerry Kelly — now a Sinn Fein politician — were part of an IRA unit which bombed London in 1973.
Around 200 people received minor injuries when bombs exploded outside the Old Bailey and Whitehall.
The Prices were from a staunch republican family. Their father had bombed England in the 1940s and their mother, aunts, and grandmother had been in the IRA’s female wing.
The sisters went on hunger strike in Brixton Prison as part of their campaign to be repatriated to Armagh jail.
They were force-fed hundreds of times.
Although Dolours Price lived in the Republic, she will be buried in her native west Belfast.
There is speculation that the family may ask Sinn Fein to stay away from the funeral.
In 2008, Gerry Adams carried the coffin of ex-IRA commander Brendan Hughes despite the fact that Hughes had voiced his opposition to this before his death.