Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Police 'can have IRA interview'

A court in America says a college must hand over interviews with Dolours Price

A US court has thrown out efforts to stop police from obtaining interviews given to a college oral history project by a convicted IRA car bomber.

The ruling by the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals means the interview with bomber Dolours Price will given to police next month. Boston College is still trying to quash a broader subpoena for other materials from its project.

Belfast Project participants say the interviews were supposed to be secret until their deaths. But Northern Ireland police probing the IRA's 1972 killing of Belfast woman Jean McConville, a mother of 10 branded as a British Army spy by the IRA, want the recordings.

The university did not appeal against a district court order last year to turn over the Price interviews, though project director Ed Moloney and ex-IRA member Anthony McIntyre did. The appeal court ruled they had no right to stop the release.

Mr Moloney and McIntyre, who conducted the interviews, filed a lawsuit challenging the decision by US authorities to subpoena the records.

Their lawyer had argued that McIntyre and others who were part of the project would be branded informants and faced "the real risk of physical harm" if the interviews were turned over. He also said it could have a chilling effect on other academic research projects.

But the court ruled on Friday that the men had no right to interfere with the police request, under terms of a treaty between the United States and the UK that requires the two to aid each other's criminal investigation. It also said criminal investigations took precedence over academic study.

"The choice to investigate criminal activity belongs to the government and is not subject to veto by academic researchers," the court wrote.

Boston College is still appealing against US District Court judge William Young's order regarding another subpoena, in which he said the school must turn over interviews with seven other former IRA members.

Lawyer Jon Albano, who filed a brief on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union in support of Mr Moloney and McIntyre, said the ruling was "not a good sign" for BC's pending appeal against Judge Young's order.

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