Belfast Telegraph

Adams witch-hunt casts dark cloud over peace process

By Jim Dee

Sixty-nine-year-old Seamus Boyle has lived in Philadelphia nearly all of his life. But when he talks about events occurring "around our way" he's not talking Philly - he's talking about Faughiletra townland in south Armagh.

"You hear stories around our way about somebody in the Orange Order who went to a Catholic craftsman to ask him to build a table for the order's meeting hall," said Boyle, discussing subtle changes that the peace process has wrought in his native land.

"That was unheard of before the peace process," added the president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America. "And that stuff is happening both ways."

Born in 1942, Boyle lived his early years in Faughiletra, moved to Philly in 1954, before moving back to his old stomping ground and marrying in the mid-60s. Boyle vividly recalls the tumultuous events of the late 1960s, including Civil Rights marches, the explosion of violence in August 1969 and the introduction of internment two years later.

It was shortly after internment, that Boyle moved his family back 'across the pond' and became involved in Irish Northern Aid (Noraid) and the AOH.

During one of his regular trips home in August 1979, the IRA killed Lord Mountbatten and 18 British paratroopers in separate attacks on the same day. In the aftermath, he said he felt "like there would be no end to it".

Still, Boyle stayed involved in support work and, like so many, he was heartened to see the IRA call a ceasefire in 1994 and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

Boyle and the AOH backed the agreement when it was severely buffeted and when the St Andrews Agreement ushered in the current Executive, they welcomed the DUP-Sinn Fein partnership.

"It took a lot for Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson to compromise..." said Boyle. "They took risks for peace. And they took a lot of flak for it."

Dark clouds are again trying to form over the process, with the eye of the storm Boston College's cache of interviews with former IRA members and loyalist paramilitaries. A Boston Globe columnist reported that recent court filings in the case make it clear that the entity seeking the tapes via the US Justice Department (the PSNI being the prime suspect), has expressed no interest in the loyalist interviews. They only want access to interviews with the ex-IRA and, specifically, any that pertain to Jean McConville's killing. According to the columnist, the whole case is aimed at toppling Gerry Adams.

Boyle is sceptical about what he calls "a witch-hunt" against Adams. But what does Boyle think about Adams' former close comrade Brendan Hughes' accusation, published in Voices from the Grave, that Adams ordered Mrs McConville's murder?

"I think it's irrelevant. What's done is done. What's past is past. And we're looking to the future, not the past," he said.

"It is a shame, everything that happened. There were atrocities all over the north by both sides.

"It was part of a war. All we can do is just move forward."

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