Belfast Telegraph

Boston tapes won't amount to a hill of beans in court

By Jim Dee

Last week the US Supreme Court temporarily stayed a Boston federal court verdict that Boston College must surrender its archived interviews with former IRA member Dolours Price.

The stay expires on November 16. But, since lawyers representing Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre (two former leaders of BC's Belfast Project oral history scheme) are expected to formally petition the Supreme Court hear their case, the BC tapes saga isn't likely to end next month.

But one prominent Irish American with longtime peace process involvement thinks that, even if the Supreme Court opts to take the case, America's most powerful court won't ever decide the fate of BC's controversial cache of IRA interviews.

"It requires a political solution," insisted former Connecticut congressman Bruce Morrison during a Belfast Telegraph interview.

"At the end of the day, I'd be surprised if any court in this country stops [the tapes being surrendered to Britain]."

In 1993 and 1994, Morrison captained several Irish American delegation peace-seeking sojourns to Northern Ireland. Shortly after one such 1994 trip, the IRA announced its historic August 1994 ceasefire that helped pave the way to the Good Friday Agreement.

And, although journalistic and academic peace process accounts abound with tales of Bill and Hillary Clinton's crucial involvement, often overlooked is their former Yale Law School chum Morrison's key role in sparking their interest.

Like many other observers of the case, Morrison believes that, since the BC interviews aren't sworn testimony, they won't amount to a hill of beans in court. He brands the PSNI's pursuit of them "a ridiculous fishing expedition."

Morrison believes that the US-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty that's been the vehicle for Britain's formal request for the BC tapes has been opportunistically exploited by law enforcement officials in Northern Ireland.

"It's wrong to enlist the government of the United States under a treaty that was entered into to catch a terrorist threat in real time, not to prosecute 40-year-old cases," said Morrison.

As for whether or not a State Department intervention, albeit behind the scenes, can occur that will result in Britain withdrawing its request for the BC tapes, Morrison cites the cases of three 1983 IRA Maze escapees arrested by the FBI in California in the early 1990s.

Pol Brennan, Kevin Barry Artt and Terry Kirby spent most of the 1990s fighting extradition until, in the Good Friday Agreement's aftermath, Britain dropped its extradition requests.

"And I was involved in getting the British to withdraw. So I know it can be done," said Morrison.

Lastly, asked whether he thinks his old friend Hillary Clinton is following the case, Morrison said: "Yes. I know it. Whether she's going to act or not, I have no idea about that. But I am sure that it is being looked at."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph