Still Battling Away

John McDonagh (JM) and Sandy Boyer (SB) interview journalist Ed Moloney (EM) who is the former director of the Belfast Project about recent developments in Ireland. Radio Free Éireann WBAI 99.5 FM Pacifica Radio Saturday 29 September 2012

John McDonagh (JM): Now when you open up your email box alot of times you don’t know whether I should read the article or shouldn’t I? But when the headline reads: “Why Niall O’Dowd is One of the World’s Greatest A-Holes” and it’s on The Broken Elbow. (If you just type in “Broken Elbow” you’ll find Ed Moloney’s blog.) And when you see a headline like that you say: This is a story I have to read!

And I’ll just read you a paragraph or two. (JM reads the first paragraph of Moloney’s article.)
Now that’s just the first paragraph and I’ve read you there, the headline. Well, the story that we’ve been covering here for quite a while now on Radio Free Éireann made it into the national news here in the United States on a CBS national news report. And we’re gonna play that clip and then speak with Ed Moloney and talk about the fallout of this And, about that great headline: “Why Niall O’Dowd is One of the World’s Greatest A-Holes”. Oh! You can’t beat that! Talk about a “grabbing headline”! But here’s the CBS clip:

**Audio portion of CBS News London’s Dolours Price interview is played.**

Sandy Boyer (SB): And we’re joined on the phone by Ed Moloney, the director of The Belfast Project, the oral history project of The Troubles based on interviews with IRA veterans, like (and) including Dolours Price, and former UVF combatants. Now Ed, thanks for coming on.

Ed Moloney (EM): No problem.

SB: And of course the big news this week was that Dolours not only did that interview with CBS but did an interview with the London Sunday Telegraph. What’s your reaction to that?

EM: Well, I’m obviously very disappointed that Dolours has done this and I’m also very angry because what she has done here is going to have ramifications for a lot of people. But to give my full reaction and using all the words that I would like to use I think is something that I should do at a different time – further on in the future. We have a legal fight on our hands which we’re still battling away at. We have a verdict in the Belfast Courts on Monday on our application for a judicial review of the PSNI action. And we also have an application in to the Supreme Court, in front of Mr. Justice Breyer, to get a Stay on these interviews being handed over until such time as the Supreme Court has had time to consider the application by our lawyers, Eamonn Dornan and Jim Cotter, that the Supreme Court should overturn these subpoenas and return the interviews to where they belong. So that’s our priority at the moment. And what Dolours has done, Dolours has done. There’s nothing we can do about it except move on and try to win the battle that we have to win. But as I say, I’m extremely disappointed, as are I think alot of other people.

SB: Well Ed, of course, this is particularly significant because it’s an interview with Dolours Price that has been subpoenaed by the US government on behalf of the British government and that you’re fighting over. But Ed, both CBS and the London Sunday Telegraph – they strongly implied – that Dolours had talked in her interview with the Belfast Project about Jean McConville. Now that’s something you’ve denied under oath…

EM: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean… I can use all the words at my command here in terms of the strength and vigor of my denial of this. That there is just no way that Dolours Price talked about the Jean McConville affair in her interviews for the Belfast Project. Absolutely not. We have raised this, at this point in this affair, because it is something that we wanted to raise from the very outset. Because our argument always was: that this PSNI subpoena, or set of subpoenas, were essentially flawed. And what I mean by that is that they were based on false information. Based upon the allegation that was contained in the Sunday Life newspaper which was itself derived from a taped interview that Dolours gave to a woman called Alison Morris in the Irish News. I don’t know what Dolours said in that interview to the Irish News but I presume that she mentioned something about giving an interview to Boston College. Which she certainly did.

But she did not mention the Jean McConville affair in her interview with Anthony McIntyre and therefore, the basis of this subpoena, that the PSNI had reason to believe that her interview with Mackers (Ed Note: familiar name for Anthony McIntyre) contained information that was useful for their investigation, was wrong – it was false – it was flawed. It was just wrong. We’ve been trying to make that argument for a long now and that’s why we’ve been trying to gain intervention into the case proper in the United States. That’s why we applied to the First Circuit in Boston: to gain intervention. We were, unfortunately, denied. If we had been granted intervention we would have gone into court and said: This subpoena is bogus! And we would have made that case as strongly as possible. But the opportunity came up with this judicial review in Belfast and we thought that this was the appropriate moment and the appropriate time at which to make this point. And that’s why we decided to make it in the Belfast courts. And it’s now out there in the open and that’s where it should be. It should have been there from the very start. As you know I have been arguing from the very outset of this business that the behaviour and the motivation of the PSNI in all of this affair is extremely suspect. They made no effort at all to interview or to retrieve material from the Irish News. They made no effort at all to retrieve material from the Sunday Life. One has to ask: Why they failed to do such simple things?

One has to look at the timing of all of this: that the subpoenas were served shortly afterward, the process of serving the subpoenas started within a couple of weeks of the election in the Irish Republic which led to Gerry Adams entering the Irish Parliament, entering the Dáil. And incidentally, leaving the British Parliament.

So if the police had in their minds that they wanted to pursue Gerry Adams- and I think that’s their target in all of this. I think they’re are elements within the PSNI, old RUC Special Branch elements, who want to settle scores from the peace process days and gain some sort of revenge for what happened to the RUC, and particularly the RUC Special Branch.

Pursuing someone who’s a member of a foreign parliament is a good deal easier than pursuing someone who’s a member of the domestic parliament. And I suspect that that’s why the timing took place. I suspect that’s why they didn’t go near the Irish News. I suspect that’s why they didn’t go near the Sunday Life.

This is a political action by the PSNI. It’s a renewal of the war against the IRA.

It’s going back into events that happened pre-1998 after a peace deal in which we were all told a line was to be drawn under all of this stuff. Well, they’ve decided to erase that line and begin again. And that to me amounts to a dismissal of – and an undermining of -the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process. And it’s a very, very suspicious action from day one. How it’s going to work out? I don’t know.

JM: Ed, I want to go back to the article that you’ve written in The Broken Elbow…I’d recommend anyone to just to google The Broken Elbow with Ed Moloney I’m looking currently now at the Irish Voice newspaper – a bizarre editorial as you said finally trying to get now ahead of what’s going on with the Boston case.

But a part of Niall O’Dowd’s editorial says: “the Boston College interviews were deeply flawed efforts to undermine the peace process”.

I mean, how does he come to that? Everybody was being interviewed for it.

EM: Absolutely. And of course he doesn’t know who’s been interviewed.

I don’t know everyone who was interviewed. I guessed at the some of the names but some of the names were not given to me. I reviewed interviews on the basis of anonymity. You know, a person who was interviewed would be assigned a letter of the alphabet to identify them and I would then read them. So I don’t know everyone but I know what organisations they belonged to.

And the whole gamut of Republicanism is reflected in, or most of the gamut of Republicanism, is reflected in the interviews. So to call it, like, an IRA archives, is actually technically inaccurate. It’s more a “republican” with a maybe small “r” archive in that sense?

But Niall O’Dowd knows nothing at all about what’s in the archive. In order for him to make pronouncements like that is just absurd. He hasn’t got the information to do that. And the insinuation of course is that this was all done for political reasons, you know? That we had a political motivation in trying to sort of undermine the peace process, and so on and so forth. Well again that falls on the basis that the people who were interviewed reflected a pretty wide range of Republican opinion.

SB: But Ed, before we let you go: what’s the impact of this likely to be on the peace process?

EM: It depends how far the PSNI are prepared to take this. And I don’t want to speculate too much because that might suggest that I know what’s in the interviews and I don’t want to go there. But let’s say some of the speculation is correct and that we could lead into a situation where people get charged.
It’s very possible, if the speculation is correct, that amongst those who could be charged would be people like Gerry Adams.

And if that happens, imagine what the political repercussions of that are. Or, imagine what the repercussion are if he isn’t get charged – in the sense that if there is evidence out there which would suggest that he played a role in this, that or the other but he’s being excluded from the prosecution, the list of people being prosecuted- there would be as much a row as there would be if they included him.

And let’s say they included him in this prosecution. Which is, as I say if the speculation is correct, then that’s not something which is theoretical – it’s very possible.What happens then to the power-sharing institutions?

Will Sinn Féin, can Sinn Féin afford to stay inside a power-sharing government when its leader, the guy who led them into the power-sharing executive, the guy who made the compromises with the British government, who made the deals, ends up in court as the result of British government activity? I can’t see circumstances in which the Sinn Féin party could actually afford to stay in that arrangement. Because they would lose credibility – they would lose face with their own supporters- and I’d think they would have very little option but to walk out. If they walk out then the power-sharing executive collapses. If the power-sharing executive collapses – then you don’t have a peace deal anymore.

SB: Well Ed, thank you very much.

EM: Okay.

SB: If you want to keep on top of this story subscribe to The Broken Elbow, that’s Ed Moloney’s blog. Well worth it. And so Ed again, thank you very much. And we’re going to be keeping on top of this story as best we can.


  1. Fascinating stuff! No matter how this plays out there should be a book written about the legal process itself and the underlying motivations and actions behind it.

  2. Simon.

    I understand what you are saying.

    How can a book be written when the contents are kept secret by governments , ie , U.S.A. and Britain.
    Legal Process? , that's what the fight is about , little people against big Brother.

    The underlying motivations and activations behind it , is , To undermine the common people of our society , we are not to be allowed to think for ourselves anymore , we, classed as commoners , not being in high office , we, who put those people in the same high office to look after OUR INTEREST'S , but they failed to do so. Could I write a book about it, Yes, from 1956 to 2012. 1956 is when I got myself involved in Irish Republicanism, let me define that for you, The unification of the Island of Ireland for the whole of those who live on the said Island, irrespective of colour or creed, to be free from any foreign nation.
    Who many books would you like to read about Ireland in Bondage?.

    Peace to you Simon.



  3. itsjustmacker,

    Alot of the detail on the motivations of the PSNI and the British are secret but a book based on Ed's or Anthony's experiences and written from their perspective would be a valuable record of the fight. I, for one, would read it as it is fascinating. Full of intrigue and machinations of the state which need to be recorded so we can remember what had to be done to fight for freedom.

    Freedom from fishing exercises by the state, from the threat to life, freedom to historically document an important conflict and the participants' memories. Many other freedoms are involved.

    The content of the blogs here on the quill on the subject of the BC tapes is important and interesting. Truth is stranger than fiction.

    I don't want to belittle the danger Anthony would be in if he lost control of the tapes. I was suggesting that a book was written as important factors such as this are in play.

    As for reading books "about Ireland in Bondage" I have read 108 of them- I just checked. I read them because it is an important subject and the BC tapes shouldn't be a mere footnote in one or two future books.

  4. Simon.

    Yes, it would be great for Anthony to write another book , because books with facts are more important in historical terms , than those from the 1916 era , most off those books were written to tell a story through the eyes of the author , instead of through the eyes of those involved, now they are trying to say that Collins was gay!. Maybe Anthony will take up the challenge to Write it as it was and is regarding the Interviews with Republican and Loyalists fighters. That would be a very interesting read.

  5. Simon,

    There is a lot for a readership to get their teeth into in this type of issue. It is certainly doable. You seem to get through a lot of reading on Ireland. I meander from area to area in my reading.


    While I agree with your take I won’t be taking up the challenge just yet.

  6. Hi Anthony,

    I do get through a lot of books but in the last 15 years I have read just over 500 books but only 80 of these were on Irish History/Politics.

    I started taking notes on which books I have read as I was going through quite a few.- Unemployment and all that! I am a slow reader and have a habit of using a dictionary at every new word. Guessing at a definition I found rarely works.

    I enjoy fiction and non-fiction. Crime novels, humour, science fiction & fantasy, the classics. I don't think anyone could cope with a single topic reading list. :)

  7. Simon,

    Like you I love to read. It was one of the great stanchions of jail life. Variation is necessary. I move topic all the time.