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Irish groups seeking alliance with Boston College

Three leading Irish American organizations supporting the campaign to have withdrawn the subpoenas directed at Boston College in the Troubles archives case have reached out to the university in an effort to forge a common front.

As things stand, archivists Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre have been appealing one aspect of the overall case as it relates to an initial set of subpoenas, while Boston College is separately appealing another set.

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The first set of subpoenas issued by the U.S. Justice Department concerns archive material on former IRA member Dolours Price held in BC's Burns Library, and it was this set that was at the heart of the court argument that led to the recent court of appeals decision which went against archive compilers Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, and is now being pitched by the two at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Boston College, however, is not a party to this part of the overall case.

Boston College spokesman, Jack Dunne, previously explained that because Price had given interviews in Ireland that covered areas contained in the archives and "had publicly declared the contents," there was "no basis for a legal appeal" by Boston College.

Boston College, however, is contesting subpoenas aimed at securing archive files stemming from testimonies given by seven other individuals, all linked in the past to the IRA.

Relations between Moloney and McIntyre and Boston College have become severely strained in recent months and the call from the three organizations, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Brehon Law Society and Irish American Unity Conference would appear to be an attempt to heal the rift.

The three, according to a statement, "have appealed to (Boston College) President William P. Leahy S.J. to join the educational campaign regarding Britain's unprecedented effort in America to intimidate journalistic inquiry, academic freedom and to color the historical record of the Anglo- Irish conflict to their liking."

"We believe," stated Thomas J. Burke Jr., president of the Irish American Unity Conference, in reference to BC, that "there is no better institution in this nation to voice concern for these issues than one so long associated with the Irish and their contributions to America."

The letter, signed by Burke, AOH National President Brendan Moore and Robert Dunne for the Brehons, indicated that even as the Court of Appeals litigation continued to search for a decision that might recognize the constitutional freedoms involved and elevate them over the flawed inquiry by the British government, Boston College "could make an immeasurable contribution to the political campaign. It could identify these larger issues by appealing to members of Congress to hold hearings on the merits of this questionable use of a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty."

Brendan Moore, newly elected National President of the AOH said: "the 1998 Belfast Agreement is recognized by most in America as the turning point in the conflict and the hard work of peace can only be made more difficult by this apparent effort by the British government to undermine the peace process."

Added Robert Dunne, president of the Brehon Law Society: "Boston College has rendered unto Caesar what is Caesar's by responding to the subpoena and now we ask that this fine Jesuit institution speak truth to power and seek a forum to do that in the halls of Congress."

The letter to Fr. Leahy was written before the First Court of Appeals decision to deny Moloney and McIntyre an "en banc" appeal against an earlier panel ruling that went against them. The two journalists have now moved to present their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.