Belfast Telegraph

Boston College Tapes: NBC News Investigations team seeks subpoenaed interviews from US federal court

Jean McConville's remains were found at Shelling Hill beach in Co Louth in 2003
Jean McConville's remains were found at Shelling Hill beach in Co Louth in 2003
Victim: Widow Jean McConville (left)
Graffiti on the Falls Road in Belfast directed at those who gave interviews for the Boston project
Anthony McIntyre
Journalist and Author Ed Moloney

NBC News is asking Boston Federal District Court in the United States to unseal all 'transcripts, audio recordings and documents' handed over to the PSNI following subpoenas served on Boston College in relation to the Belfast Project oral history archives.

The US news channel has written to Judge William Young requesting the material is handed over 'as soon as possible' as 'a matter of great public interest'.

The Belfast Project contains dozens of interviews with former republican and loyalist paramilitaries. The project was headed by Irish journalist Ed Moloney, and interviews with former IRA members were conducted by former IRA member Anthony McIntyre.

The PSNI, probing the IRA's 1972 killing of Belfast woman Jean McConville, sought access to the recordings.

Writing on his blog,, Moloney revealed that Thomas J Winter of NBC News Investigations wrote to Judge Young on May 6 but it is not known if he has responded.

The letter, which can be viewed below, argues that US citizens have the right under a Supreme Court judgement in 1978 to gain access to judicial documents.

In the letter Mr Winter argues: "This case or any case involving incidents of terrorism and criminality committed by several and various parties representing diverse ideologies both political and religious is a matter of great public interest".

Moloney and McIntyre, who conducted the interviews, filed a lawsuit challenging the decision to subpoena the records in 2011.

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.

However the PSNI won the legal battle and Boston College was forced to hand over sections of the archive that related to the murder of Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville.

Boston College Tapes: NBC News letter by BelfastTelegraph

Zoom in to read letter above or click the 'full screen' icon


The college which is storing the oral history of the Troubles - part of which was reportedly relied upon by police to quiz Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams about the notorious IRA murder - has said it is willing to hand interviews back to former paramilitaries who took part.

After his release from custody without charge following four days of questioning, Mr Adams claimed that most of the evidence detectives presented to him was based on allegations levelled by interviewees who had given accounts to the oral project.

Mr Adams, 65, vehemently denies any involvement in the crime or that he was ever a member of the IRA.

The 40-plus participants in the oral project had been assured that their accounts would not be made public until their deaths, but that undertaking was undermined by the US court ruling.

Of more than 80 interviews contained in the archive, the court decision saw police obtain sections of 11 tapes.

Further reading

Boston College tapes: Archive that turned into a can of worms

Boston College Troubles archive closure a loss to history, says Professor Paul Bew

PSNI chief Matt Baggott hails colleague Drew Harris in eye of storm over Gerry Adams arrest

Boston tapes journalist Ed Moloney raps Sinn Fein claims as 'paranoia'

Boston College tapes were not set up to 'get' Gerry Adams - researchers hit back

Boston College to hand back tapes: Some interviews used by police to quiz Gerry Adams over Jean McConville murder

Gerry Adams slams 'sinister, malicious, untruthful campaign' following release by police

Gerry Adams freed without charge after four days of questioning over murder of Belfast woman Jean McConville

Moloney's bizarre accusations sad to witness

Boston tapes name gaffe: Confessions may be useless after identity codes lost 

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