Waters muddied in BC archives standoff

Journalists Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre are fighting a war on two fronts this week.

The two are fighting in court to prevent material from their Troubles archive at Boston College ending up in the hands of the PSNI, this by way of federal prosecutors.

And they are also at odds with the custodian of the "Belfast Project" archives, Boston College, which has largely left the appeals fight to New York-based Moloney, and Ireland-based McIntyre.

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Wrote Moloney on his blog, www.thebrokenelbow.com: "Earlier this week, we issued a statement condemning Boston College for its failure to appeal a recent court decision ordering the handing over of interviews from the Belfast Project oral history archive and calling on the college to close down the archive and return/destroy interviews.

"In the course of our statement we referred to an earlier proposal we had made to safeguard the archive which had been rebuffed by Boston College. When asked about this, BC spokesperson Jack Dunn claimed not have 'heard' of such a proposal.

"Since Dunn's response cast doubt on our veracity we decided to make an email exchange about this matter public, redacting only material that infringed our promise of confidentiality to interviewers, masking their names and keeping internal BC affairs secret."

Moloney told the Echo that his disappointment in Boston College was compounded by the fact that it was BC which opted some years ago, in the context of the peace process, to compile a Troubles archive for its Burns Library.

Moloney was approached on this matter by Paul Bew. who was lecturing at BC, and the end result was an agreement between Moloney and McIntyre and BC to compile an archive which guaranteed anonymity until death to those who gave testimony.

In recent days, Moloney and McIntyre successfully won a temporary stay again a federal judge's order that material from the archive be handed over to federal prosecutors.

At a hearing now scheduled for January 24 before U.S. District Judge William Young, U.S. attorneys will seek to have this stay dismissed.

Meanwhile, BC spokesman Jack Dunn said it was "absurd" for Moloney to blame Boston College.

He said that in the original agreement between BC and Moloney, there was a caveat which stated that confidentiality could only be applied to the extent that U.S. law allowed.

Dunn said that Boston College had successfully argued before Judge Young that archive material relating to sought testimony by former Provisional IRA member Delours Price be first viewed by the judge in camera and in his chambers. This argument had been accepted by the judge.

Dunn said that archive testimony given by Price had been effectively repeated in public utterances in Ireland made by Ms. Price.

Boston College, he said, was now focused on maintaining the confidentiality of 24 other interviews still housed in the archive.

He said the college also was hoping that Judge Young would actually decide to have archive material now in his possession returned to BC's Burns Library.