By Irish Echo Staff
Against the backdrop of President's Obama's new term and the new Congress, the coalition of Irish-American groups to the fore in the Boston College archives case is, according to a statement, "vigorously pursuing their three year campaign to convince Attorney General Eric H. Holder and Secretary of State Clinton that the British request for Irish records at Boston College is wrong.'
The request "constitutes a violation of the U.S.-U.K. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, violates American values of justice, contradicts British assurances and undermines the Irish peace process which is the settled public policy of three U.S presidents," said the leaders of the AOH, IAUC and Brehon Law Society.
"We recognize that Britain is a valued partner in the investigation and prosecution of major money laundering, drug trafficking and terrorist crimes. This request, however, for records in Boston College, and presumably in aid of a 1972 criminal investigation that never happened, is a misuse of MLAT and an abuse of American goodwill and trust," stated Ancient Order of Hibernians National President, Brendan Moore.
Robert Dunne, President of the Brehon Law Society added: "Just last month Prime Minister Cameron described the Police Service of northern Ireland collaboration with loyalist terrorists in 1989 to kill attorney Patrick Finucane as "shocking" and "appalling". This is the police force that has requested these subpoenas. Until the re-hiring of retired PSNI officers (some of whom may well have been in on the collusion to kill Finucane), the PSNI had shown more transparency and professionalism. This request suggests the 'bad old days' have returned."
The President of the Irish-American Unity Conference, Thomas J. Burke Jr., who is an attorney based in Denver, observed: "The 'special relationship' invariably comes under the most stress and closest scrutiny when Britain's actions or inaction in Ireland are involved.
But this episode is purely an American issue. We are asking Mr. Holder not to rubber stamp the request, but to scrutinize more carefully the purposes of MLAT and to engage in a more in depth dialogue with the Department of State as MLAT provides."
Litigation involving the researchers of the Belfast Project and Boston College in opposition to the request of Attorney General Holder argues not only that this request is a misuse of MLAT, but that important constitutionally protected academic and journalistic freedoms are also involved. A Writ of Certiorari is currently being reviewed in the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.