Fran McNulty speaks to Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre

This Week with Fran McNulty
RTE Radio 1

Transcript: Fran McNulty speaks to Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre on what is next for the Boston College Archives

RTE Radio 1

27 January 2013


Fran McNulty (FM) interviews via telephone Ed Moloney (EM) and Anthony McIntyre (AM), the Director and Lead Researcher respectively of The Belfast Project, an oral history of the Northern Ireland conflict archived at Boston College. They discuss how the untimely death of former IRA Volunteer Dolours Price will affect the release of Ms Price’s interviews which are presently under subpoena by the PSNI.

FM: This week Dolours Price died. Convicted in connection with the 1973 Old Bailey bombing she’s been described as a veteran Republican. But to many she’s perhaps best known as the woman who claimed Gerry Adams was Officer Commanding of the IRA. The late Dolours Price is also the woman who told her story to the Boston College Belfast Project, an archived interview that wasn’t due to be released until after her death. The college holds a number of interviews with active Republican and Loyalist figures during The Troubles. But British authorities sought to have the interviews handed over and the matter was subject to Supreme Court proceedings in the US. Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, the two men who were central to the project, have been attempting to block the release. I’ve been speaking to both of them and first asked Anthony McIntyre is there any reason now he couldn’t tell people what Dolours Price said to him during her interview?

AM: Well there’s every reason. Primarily the reason that these interviews were carried out (was) for the benefit of society, to try and enhance societal understanding in an environment whereby people would not subject to prosecution; either the people who made the interview or the people referred to in the interview. And as we are now aware the police, the British police in The North, have been trying to seize these tapes for the purposes of prosecution and that would be a complete negation of the ethos of the project and for that reason I will not be discussing what Dolours Price said to me.

FM: I read an affidavit you submitted to the Supreme Court and in it you expressed concern about Dolours Price and her health. You spoke about her depression and you expressed reservation and concern about the impact of the court action to have the interviews turned over. When you heard about her death this week what did you think?

AM: I was obviously very saddened by her death and shocked even though I knew she was having serious psychological difficulties for some time. You just get into a feeling that people are going to be around forever and then when they die so unexpectedly it is shocking. And I do not know the circumstances of her death other than natural causes and there was a toxicology report that was to be carried out prior to the releasing of her body. But I do believe that Dolours was suffering serious depression and she was very concerned about these tapes getting handed over. Her whole purpose was to assist a better understanding and not to be prosecuted and hounded in the closing years of her life; she was moving into the last decade of her life if we regard a sort of the three score and ten standard. I cannot rule out the impact on her psychological health that this whole process has led to.

FM: Ed Moloney in New York: Anthony McIntyre has said quite clearly he feels the interviews should not be released. I think it’s fair to say from the statement you released jointly during the week you feel the same. But isn’t it a bit much, Ed, given the fact you always knew there would be consequences as a result of interviews coming out after the death of these people?

EM: I’m sorry I don’t understand your question because the situation relating to these interviews is very simple. This was a very serious academic, scholarly and journalistic exercise. The idea, as Anthony has said, was to record interviews which would shed light on the motives and lifestyles of people who got involved in this most traumatic chapter in Irish history. And there seems to be an assumption on the part of a lot of people that as soon as someone dies we are obliged to post these interviews up in the shoppe window for people to gawk at. That is not the situation at all. In fact, just as these subpoenas were being served back in the Spring of 2011 I had started conversations with Boston College to try to draw up rules governing access. And these rules we had already outlined were going to be very strict indeed. So the idea that someone died so immediately gawkers can come and look at this stuff is totally wrong…

FM: You call them gawkers but you yourself were involved in the publication of a title surrounding the Brendan Hughes interviews. So what does that make you?

EM: But that’s an entirely different situation from what we’re talking about. When Brendan Hughes gave his interviews to Boston College, as Anthony will I’m sure confirm here, his initial request was actually that the interviews be published while he was alive and clearly that was something that we just couldn’t go along with.So the arrangement that was made with Brendan Hughes was that as soon as he died, and I think he knew that he didn’t have much longer to go when he gave these interviews, that we would make every effort possible to publish these interviews. So in a sense publishing his interviews was a part of the condition of him giving the interviews. Therefore that was a very special case. Other people have died you know who were involved in this archive that people don’t know about. We haven’t published those interviews.

FM: In relation to the Supreme Court Stay that is in place: if somebody goes before the Supreme Court in the United States in the next few weeks and makes the case that Dolours Price is now dead and they should be released and the Supreme Court agrees with that have you any course of action left to you? Is there anything you can do to stop that?

EM: I think then the issue becomes a very political one. You know, John Kerry has just been appointed as Secretary of State. When he was head of the Foreign Relations Committee in the US Senate he was very exercised about these interviews being handed over. He was very conscious of the dangers that these interviews could pose to the stability of the peace process. And he wrote to Hillary Clinton asking her to put pressure on the British to revoke these subpoenas. And my understanding is that that is still his view. So if the Supreme Court does rule against us there remains still the very strong possibility that this issue then enters the Obama Administration as a political issue. And that means that we’re very far from the sort of resolution that a lot of people I think are both expecting, and maybe in some cases, hoping for.

FM: I should say that we contacted the new Secretary of State’s office this week for comment but they weren’t willing to make any comment at all on this particular issue. In conclusion – Anthony McIntyre to you in Drogheda: we spoke before about this issue and about the interviews that are left in the archive – there was mention about possibly destroying them because it was simply unraveling out of control. If that, as I said to Ed, that situation emerges whereby you don’t succeed in your Supreme Court action, the documents are handed over, are you still of the mindset or still of the view that destruction of this valuable archive should be considered?

AM: Absolutely! I think any academic or journalist has an ethical imperative working under an ethical obligation to ensure that anything they collect will not be used for the purposes of harm to the people who helped in the construction of the archive. One of the guiding imperatives of every academic and researcher is that no harm should occur to the person who participates in an academic project.

FM: Anthony McIntyre and Ed Moloney speaking earlier.


  1. Anthony this has been a David versus Goliath battle yourself Ed and Carrie have carried BC on this issue,hopefully the courts will find in your favour,if so then your next concern will be the safety of these tapes,BC has proved beyond doubt that they cant be relied upon to protect the integrity or contents of these tapes,its such a pity that such a worthwhile project may indeed have to end up on top of a fire,but it is something that as you say must be considered.if it goes to Kerry to make the decision,you would hope he would make the right call but would you really like to bet on it a cara .

  2. Kerry met the british secretary of state Yesterday, I'm sure the latter would have been bombarding kerry on the need to suppress nationalists Republicans and to bring to "So Called Justice" those who were allegedly named as top SF people in those tapes. Kerry needs to get to Ireland were he will see the widespread discontent at the Secret evidence is doing to arrest and imprison innocent people on the word of an MI5 officer. I would bet that Kerry has already made up his mind about the tapes and they will not be handed over.

    Anthony a cara, Your link , "Irish American Coalition Asks for Senate Hearing – Letter to Reid" is not working.

  3. Marty,

    if it goes to Kerry to make the decision,you would hope he would make the right call but would you really like to bet on it a cara

    I'll make you sports man bet of a pint that Kerry makes the right call and lets dust take care of the project.


    Apart from the Falklands on yesterdays agenda, I've a feeling that the BC tapes were also mentioned in private. And while TPQ readers/posters thoughts about the release of the tapes are very much close to home (outside of the political elite) no one wants them handed over, Kerry also has to throw the Irish diaspora into the equation. They carry a lot of votes.

  4. Frankie a cara mmmm I,ll give you two to one on that bet and hope like fuck I lose,I really dont trust the Whitehouse and those who enter within,

  5. Itsjustmacker,

    thanks. I put a fresh one in. Seems it is working.

  6. Marty:

    In Anthony's link above' Letter from Irish American Coalition for a senate hearing regards MLAT, and, The BC Tapes, They have offered to supply letters of support, including the one from Kerry, He is in no position to renege, I have already stated that through Kerry the tapes will be safe at BC, I would say Frankie will win that bet.


    I have already stated that the British Secretary of State would bring the tapes up with Kerry and probably with one or two suites from the secret corridors within whitehall to listen in. But I would think Kerry would state, its an on going issue and will be dealt with very soon, Haige already knows Kerry's views on those tapes, and I'm sure his face would have changed to a different shade of grey.

  7. Anthony:

    I can't believe that BC would just use the Late Dolour's, I don't see the logic, as they knew that ALL MATERIALS RELATING TO Mc Conville were asked for, They have got that well Mooted as far as I read it. Could they not have stated that Dolour's statement on the subject of Mc Conville was in the public domain but it was stated whilst she was iLL?.

  8. Itsjustmackers,

    will the mysteries of BC behaviour ever be revealed?

  9. Itsjustmacker;

    'Could they not have stated that Dolour's statement on the subject of Mc Conville was in the public domain'

    I think BC could've done a lot of things. But didn't.

    'but it was stated whilst she was iLL?.'

    I think to put forward a case that Dolours was ill at the time of giving her interviews would undermine the worth and value of the whole project and weaken its credibility. I for one hope it will be saved for future learning but if the ill argument was put forward I think the projects legacy wouldn't stand the test of time.

  10. Marty,

    I hope I'm right too. Your odds are better than Paddy Powers. You're on.


    Thanks for the vote of confidence.
    (PS same goes to you RE the beard..any more comments like that and you like bookwork will be off my christmas card list)


    I stand to be corrected. But I've a feeling the only reason Voices was released when it was is because you kept your word to a friend. If they were to released as people thought in book form every 6 months-1yr. it would probably do more damage than good. In the same way the Bureau of Military History was kept under lock and key for years. I believe that was yours and Ed's original intention (and still is).

  11. Belfast Bookworm:

    I didn't mean when she gave the original interview to Anthony, I meant the interviews to the media.

    Maybe I stipulate it correctly, but, just thought I would let you know a cara.


    Razor blades are on there way a cara. lol

  12. Itsjustmacker; apologies, I picked you up wrong.

  13. Belfast Bookworm:

    Don't worry about it, just look at how many times I jumped to wrong conclusions on a variety of post.

    Sorry Anthony for the below text being of thread, I couldn't find the original thread.

    I have today received an Email from TD Gerry Adams replying to the Email I forwarded to him, I must state it is a very positive response, Detailing, with links all that SF have been doing for the release of Marian and Martin.

    "Marian Price has not been subjected to due process. Whatever has been said against her has been said in secret - she cannot even hear it. It is back to the old days of internment, commissions and all the rest of it."

    "Marian Price and Martin Corey should be released immediately"

    "Sinn Fein will continue to press both governments to use whatever mechanisms necessary to ensure the release of both citizens.

    Please find below for your information comments that I made in Leinster House last week on this very issue."

    I have to say, after clicking on the links, I'm pleased with the reply, it would be disingenuous for me to post the full reply.

  14. Belfast Bookworm,

    That’s so true.

    There is no point in interviewing people whose mental faculties had been impaired by illness. It would be self defeating. Dolours, like Brendan, was demonstrably sharp.

    For what it is worth now, I read Itsjustmacker the way he said he meant it - referring to the media interviews.

  15. I think after 'Voices' a lot of people justified (in their minds) Brendan Hughes' input by saying 'Ach he wasn't well and 'sure he was taking a drink'

    This angered me as it stank of undermining the work and stories of the project and attempts to ridicule and rubbish Brendan. I know you Anthony, came under fire too for 'exploiting a poor and vulnerable Brendan hughes'. Yeah, like the Dark wasn't smart enough to know when he was being used - sure didn't he ditch the shinners way back when? Speaks volumes.

    I think ed has done a great job here though clarifying the reasons Voices was written - cleared up any confusion around this matter.

  16. Anthony:

    He also stated, Speaking to Both Governments, also Himself and other SF TD's bringing it up in the Dail.

    Also after Dolour's death, it is a further Burden on Marian on top of her serious illness.