The US Supreme Court today rejected a request from lawyers acting on behalf of Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre to hear their appeal against a lower court’s refusal to grant them standing in legal efforts to resist an attempt by the Police Service of Northern Ireland to gain access to IRA interviews archived at Boston College.
We began this fight almost exactly two years ago and all along the campaign has run on two tracks, one legal, the other political. The legal track has almost come to an end but the political campaign continues.
In recent weeks the United States government has been made aware of just how damaging to the political situation in Northern Ireland these interviews could be and how this PSNI request has both dubious motives and derives from a broader failure of the parties in the North to agree on a way to deal with the past in such a way as to allow the future to begin.
A few days ago the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Robert Menendez issued a statement in the form of a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry whose significance has gone largely unnoticed by the media. In that letter he referred to the United States’ role as “a steward” of the peace process in Northern Ireland while noting the potential of this PSNI action to “re-open fresh wounds and threaten the success of the Good Friday Accords”.
Addressing Secretary Kerry directly he continued:
I encourage you to raise the potential political implications of this request with your counterparts in the United Kingdom and under any circumstance the United States should review whatever materials are shared carefully to ensure that their provision does not undermine the United States’ essential interest in the progress achieved by the people of Northern Ireland.
We warmly welcomed Senator Menendez’ letter and hope and trust that Secretary Kerry will in the coming days act on his wise and well-informed advice.
This is a very disappointing decision by the Supreme Court but we wish to express our deeply felt gratitude to all those who were involved in the legal campaign, principally our attorneys Eamonn Dornan, JJ Cotter, Jonathan Albano who laboured long and hard in a tenacious and skilled legal battle against the combined legal forces of two governments.
They were ably and skillfully assisted by a large number of lawyer colleagues, including members of the ACLU of Massachusetts as well as Cliff Sloan, Bob McDonnell of Bingham McCutcheon, Sarah Wunsch and Matt Seagal of the ACLU, Kevin Winters of Belfast, John Foley, Peter Kissel and Mike Carroll to whom we also send our thanks. All our legal advice was given on a pro bono basis, for which we will be forever grateful. If other names have been omitted by pressure of events we beg indulgence.
Amicus briefs were also presented to the Supreme Court in our support by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, by Article 19 and by a group of professors from Indiana led by our good friend Bob White. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts for their courage and a dedication to principle that was notable elsewhere for its absence. California attorneys, John De Stefano and Mary-Christine Sungaila gave great help in preparing the amicus briefs for which we are deeply indebted.
A special mention must be made of the Irish-American groups that came to support the campaign notably the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Brehon Law Society and the Irish American Unity Conference who worked tirelessly to prevent these interviews from being handed over. We thank them for all their great work.
A large number of individuals also gave freely of their support and advice and while all deserved to named we would like to thank in particular Sandy Boyer, Chris Bray, Lin Solomon, Harvey Silverglate, Sabina Clarke, Michael Cummings, Helen McClafferty, Cathleen O’Brien, Jim Lockhart, Tom Burke, Ed Lynch, Tim Myles, John Lowman and Ted Palys. They are just a few of the friendships we have made or cemented during this campaign.
We are also deeply indebted to our wives and families for all the loving support they gave us during this stressful period.
All of those involved in this campaign can be assured that it is not over yet.