Chris Bray: Boston College: Someone Learned to Read

On Wednesday afternoon, Judge William Young will hold yet another hearing in the matter of the PSNI's fishing expedition in the Boston College archives. This latest development follows Young's recent order that BC hand over a new set of IRA interviews to the government, and the DOJ's argument that the judge hadn't gone far enough and there were possibly still more archived materials that BC should be compelled to surrender.

In response to the DOJ's declaration of endless hunger, BC's outside lawyer has offered a short and remarkable document (see below). Remember that BC gave the court every IRA interview in its Belfast Project collection for in camera review, after telling Young that no one at the university had any idea which archived materials were responsive to the government's subpoenas. But they did not give the court the other half of that collection, which is made up of interviews with members of loyalist paramilitaries that were active in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.


  1. Bangers Morrison in a letter to the Irish News 1st Feb re the BC oral history project states that those republicans who gave tape interviews,signed away their comradeship and reputations,the joke is that unless you are on message within the movement ie,a yes man/woman then your reputation or comradeship or indeed your and your family,s welfare are not worth diddly squat.bangers and his cronies in qsf have probably more volunteers blood on their hands than the brits and having been proved to be the liars that they are ,the hunger strike deal. the scandal of the usurping of Patten the farce of his comrades in Stormont administering british rule while republicans languish in stinking prisons administered by the same thugs who abused the comrades bangers highly speaks of, one would think bangers would be better employed if he really cared about reputations that he would tell the truth about how many touts were actually in that house with Sandy Lynch!and the rest..

  2. Marty,

    I got a call to tell me there was a 'deranged' letter in the Irish News from one of those in the Sandy House. When I read it I could see why|!

  3. Marty,

    I haven’t read the Chitty, chitty Bangers latest whilst the upper echelon are busy building their new republican reputation racing to meet royalty and Brit dignitaries I am sure all they talk about is the weather or whether they can grovel more and make amends with the people they promised to destroy.
    Union Jack republicanism effectively demolished and signed away traditional republicanism. So much for reputation as they traded that in with their maladroit negotiation ineptitude where they talked themselves into becoming the establishment and now the only people they enthusiastically condemn are the republicans who disagree with their pro-British agenda.

    I think after Morrison’s botched article “The making of a tout” he has refined his reactionary anger and probably had to take lessons in diplomatic wording.
    This time he is politely calling former volunteers, who participated in the project
    So much for integrity and reputation replacing words but still saying the same thing but only in a more acceptable way maybe his ambassadorial lessons are paying off from the hardline making of a tout to the watered down version of the same message or perhaps he had someone else help him whilst his teeth grinded.

  4. Well Tain bo a cara bangers is the man who crawled through the mud of Glastonbury to shake the hand of the colonel in chief of the parachute reg.and not as much as an obe yet.

  5. Tain Bo,

    it was something of a deranged rant. More interesting is his review of the Tommy McKearney book where he is at pains to try and dispel the agents of influence argument which is gaining ground as an explanation as to how the Provisionals could be made to embrace and celebrate their own defeat.

    There was the strangest of articles in yesterday's Guardian about Stakeknife not being in the nutting squad and not being all that influential anyway. It was also trying to deny the extent to which the Provos had been penetrated. The author got eviscerated in the comments section where he was obviously not taken seriously. But it does seem that for some reason that as the extent of the Provo defeat becomes even clearer than it was previously, the Provos or those who believe their narrative are being pressed into defending the Provo stance in the face of suspicion that agents of influence brought them to this position.

    The Guardian article raised some questions about the role of Stakeknife which need addressed but they will be lost in what was overall a weak presentation of the case.

  6. Anthony,

    a deranged rant is one way of viewing it. I see it as botched, reactionary, and typical of Sheriff Danny with his cowboy hat and six-shooter reliving the former Wild West Belfast days.

    I doubt Danny’s article is worth reading and if he is defending Scappaticci & co would that not contradict his making of a tout.
    You do not have to be genius to figure out the Ra was infiltrated there were enough Supergrass trials to establish that fact.
    Like most things in the dirty war arsenal, the Brits being the masters of counter insurgency would have refined the tactic and without a doubt used their agents for greater gain; the show-trials had served their purpose but in the long term were ineffectual.
    The denial of well-placed high-level agents is absurd espionage is an art that extends well beyond the confines of infiltrating Para-militaries. It topples governments so for those who believe the Ra were impenetrable and victorious well romanticism lives.
    At best in football terms it was a draw and possibly would still be a draw today but for whatever reasoning the leadership decided to score an own goal and the Brits picked up the new Northern Ireland trophy.
    There is no shame in defeat the real shame comes from writing it as a victory.

    Burying the past will prove a lot more difficult than burying the disappeared.

  7. Tain Bo,

    People rarely believe what he says. Although because of his past role as Danny Thumbs, when the thumb could go up or down, it would be foolish to deny that he plays on that to convey menace. Hence his labelling of people as touts. Most people we talk to about the level of threat point to that. A man who would wilfully route hunger strikers to certain death would be capable of anything. I guess the Brits sensed that immediately and behaved accordingly. There is no doubt in my mind they moved to turn him. Whether he responded to the overture is a matter for conjecture. People will have to make up their own mind on that.

    There is rarely anything he writes that is worth reading. Much of what he has written about the hunger strike I don’t read because I sense instinctively he is lying. Even those who do not accept Richard’s narrative are very uncomfortable with Morrison’s.

    There is not the slightest doubt about the depth of penetration. I think this is why there has been an attempt to downplay the role of Scap. If you remember when Scap was outed Niall Meehan, writing under the name Adam O’Toole, claimed it was all a Brit fabrication. Now we see the re-emergence of the argument in slightly different form: Scap was an agent but the FRU have overplayed his role. The last time I heard the role of Scap downplayed was when I was in London doing a joint lecture with Ed Moloney. The official biographer of MI5 who was in the audience objected to our thesis and defended the SF version of Scap. His case was so weak that it was ridiculed by others in the audience. A Professor later said to me ‘the spooks protecting their assets.’ (not verbatim).

    The thing here is that both the Brits and SF want to cloak the extent of penetration. That is why a number of people have commented on a certain nervousness developing within SF about the role of agents of influence.