Standing at Silly Point

Danny Morrison in his Boston Globe letter, September 1, 2011, has sought to reassure the British police as they pursue part of Boston College’s oral history archive pertaining to the Irish conflict. Not knowing what is in the archives currently held by the college has not prevented him from arguing on behalf of the British police that the deposits ‘contain potentially incriminating taped evidence by Irish Republican Army volunteers about unresolved killings during the Irish conflict.’ Yet, for all his undoubted fealty a knighthood will elude him. ‘Arise Sir Daniel Dudley Morrison’ is not going to happen no matter how hard he tries to reinforce the thin blue line or how often he bows to Prince Charles at Glastonbury.

In spite of his charge, the discipline of rank hypocrisy, in which Morrison should hold a first class honours degree, has no bearing on the observation by Ed Moloney and myself that the release of the material ‘could be immensely destructive to the peace process in Northern Ireland’ and that the subpoena appears aimed at damaging Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein’s ‘remarkable electoral comeback in the general election in the Republic of Ireland.’

Morrison who, on much more tenuous grounds, has long promoted this very theme of British police foul play in respect of the peace process, now seems to have abandoned it, presumably because he currently supports the British police and wishes to row in behind them.

For our part we have never subscribed to that thesis with any degree of enthusiasm, given our firm knowledge of how the British security services were shepherding Sinn Fein through the peace process. However, we have taken account of opinion from ‘respected historians, reviewers, and commentators’  that at this specific juncture the most plausible explanation for the anti-Boston College assault is that it is being driven by a small element within the British security services, eager, as Niall O’Dowd suggests, to exact revenge on Gerry Adams. Tellingly, Rita O’Hare in her own letter to the Boston Globe would seem to agree. If Morrison has a better explanation he should share it.

Moreover, as both I and Ed Moloney contended in our motion to intervene to the US court handling the case, the attempt by the British police to secure the embargoed materials, were it to succeed, would shake down that vital institutional organ of the peace process, the Good Friday Agreement, stripping it of some of its more positive attributes.

Contrary to what Morrison might wish for, it is not the task of journalists to protect the peace process from free inquiry. But it would be ludicrous for us not to flag up the absurdity inherent in any action by Boston College that might lend itself to weakening the very peace process the college long championed. Boston College’s remit is in the field of knowledge procurement not evidence gathering for the British police.

Ed Moloney’s critique of journalists who did not put their journalism before the needs of the peace process continues to hold good. How could the public understand the peace process if knowledge about it was to be suppressed? In this current saga Moloney is not seeking to protect the peace process from uncomfortable truths but is, in full accordance with the inviolable principle of shielding sources, seeking to protect uncomfortable truths from the British security services who might, inter alia, use them to undermine the peace process. A crucial difference but one which Morrison unsurprisingly lacks the ability to grasp. 

What is more alarming than the perceived existence of danger to the people associated with the oral history project is Morrison’s brash assertion that no such threat exists. More known for standing at Silly Point than at its Archimedean counterpart,  as demonstrated by the sheer number of times he has been wrong on just about everything else associated with understanding Northern Irish politics, his assurances give little cause for confidence.


  1. Agreed Anthony you.d be a fool to listen or believe anything that came out of bangers mouth or pen,on a point of interest a cara,who actually owns these tapes,I would have thought that they should belong to each contributer,and that Boston college were just the gaurdians,and on legal advice if they believed these tapes were in danger of falling into the hands of these securocrats then on instruction from the owners they should destroy them. it would be a historical pity,but far better than giving the brits ammo to hound even more republicans,

  2. Good article Anthony,

    The willingness of the psf leadership to bend over backwards to help the PSNI and M15 persecute republicans continues to astound me.

    The fact that so many good republicans continue to follow these carreerists makes the situation even more tragic.


  3. What is it they say, "nothing to hide nothing to fear"! With Adams not being in the IRA what has he to fear???

    What is it with the Sinn Fein project, can't they have criticism of the dear leader, after all that is what robust politics is all about.

    Or do Sinn Fein want to be the only party that can hand out innuendo???

  4. This just bemuses me.

    might it not be more a point that people in SF leadership fear exposure?

    Billy wright was 'prevented' from writing or recording his memoirs. Maybe Danny and co. have more to fear from the truth than from the concealment of it.

    The entire thing confuses me. Can't see for the life of me SF wanting the info 'out' unless to jail more people against the golden-calf they created in the GFA.

  5. A Antóin, ar dtús barra caitheadh mé a rá gur bhain mé an sult go deo as an gcluiche inniu idir Chill Chainnigh agus Tiobraid Arainn. Togha fir muintir Chill Chainnigh!
    Ar aon chaoi...Is minic a chaithim súil ar na hailteanna atá foilsithe agat ar an idirlíon agus i mo thuairimse tá tromlach dóib suimiúil go maith. Ar an ábhar sin, tugaim faoi dheara go bhfuil scata maith daoine atá i dteagmháil leat go huile is go hiomláin gafa le tuairimí agus ráitis na Shinn Finnegan's! Cén fáth? Why are you people so fucking concerned & preoccupied with the views of Helper Adams, Martin the Apostate et al?

  6. Lot,

    I personally am concerned because they claim to represent the majority view of republicans on both sides of the border.

    Any serious ananylis will show that they are not republicans anymore at all. No more than Fianna Fail, who interned and executed their former comrades in the 1930s and 1940s.

    Learn from history.


  7. Anthony,

    Surely legal enquiry like free enquiry should take no account of the ramifications, political or other wise, that may arise from it's persuance?

  8. Robert,

    if that were true we would have had murder convictions in the Bloody Sunday case years ago. And all the files about Dublin/Monaghan would be brought to light. Justice and legal inquiry are far from synonomous. To what extent is legal inquiry shaped by bias?

  9. That's remind me of a Billy Bragg song that goes approximately like this : "this is not a court of justice it's a court of law". But I have a question: It's well known that
    the IRA and Sinn Fein were deeply infiltrated, so what could the Boston college tapes reveal to the authorities?

  10. André,

    Bragg got it nicely.

    Of course SF and the IRA were extensively penetrated. The extent to which is breathtakingly high. But what the archivee might reveal is not the point. It is the right of the interviewees not to have it revealed until a time of their choosing that is at the crux of the matter. It is also essential that history is not written by the state agencies; that history, journalism, academic disciplines are not contaminated by the 'evidence virus'.

  11. RSF have 1 councillor (in Conamara)across the 32 counties.Laughable.

  12. all depressein.

    i knew a cross-eyed depressed girl once, she refused to look forward to anything.

  13. Aye Robert truth and justice a rare commodity in this part of the world, its a fact is it not that when those who make the laws break the laws then there is no law,a fine example of this will be the show trial of state agent Haddock this week,

  14. Anthony,

    "Justice and legal inquiry are far from synonomous. To what extent is legal inquiry shaped by bias?"

    This is very true Anthony - I expect my point is based on principle than on pratice. If indeed the law is an ass then legal enquiry has proved itself to be a biased ass.