Belfast Telegraph

Insider confessions could be set to backfire

By Rebecca Black

The 'Belfast Project' was launched in 2001 and was designed to become an oral history of the Troubles.

More than 80 paramilitaries from the IRA and the UVF gave candid interviews to researchers employed by Boston College, on the understanding that their involvement would not be made public until after their deaths.

Between 2001 and 2006, recordings of these interviews were held in a library at the college and became known as the Boston tapes.

It was directed by the writer and journalist Ed Moloney, with the interviews carried out by two researchers.

Loyalists were recorded by Wilson McArthur and republicans by former IRA prisoner Anthony McIntyre, who has since become a writer and academic.

The testimonies of David Ervine of the Progressive Unionist Party and the former IRA commander Brendan Hughes, who have both since died, formed the backbone of a book by Ed Moloney, and a television documentary.

The rest of the recordings remained locked away in Boston College until last year when the PSNI secured sections of 11 tapes following a legal battle.

Through his recordings, Hughes made a number of admissions, including saying that he had organised Bloody Friday, the day on which the IRA detonated more than 19 car bombs in Belfast in an hour, killing 11 people.

Hughes named Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams (left) as the overall commander of the IRA's Belfast Brigade.

He also claimed that Mr Adams had controlled his own squad within the IRA, known by the organisation as "the unknowns", the group responsible for 'disappearing' IRA victims.

Old Bailey bomber Dolours Price, who died last year, is also understood to have recorded an interview in which she said she drove mother-of-10 Jean McConville to her death under the orders of Mr Adams.

The Sinn Fein leader was arrested earlier this month and questioned over the murder of Mrs McConville. He denied any part in that murder and the claims made by Hughes.

If the PSNI succeeds in obtaining the rest of the tapes, it could result in a string of arrests across Northern Ireland for historical crimes, and it could include the arrest of the former paramilitaries who gave the interviews.

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph