Boston College Subpoenas: Press Statement In Wake of Chronicle Of Higher Education Article

Statement from Ed Moloney, Anthony McIntyre & Wilson McArthur

Following the disclosure in the current edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education that Boston College misled ourselves and the participants in the oral history project into believing that the donor contract or agreement for interviewees had been vetted by the college’s legal advisers when it had not been, we are consulting our attorneys about the legal implications.

During the preparation of the project in 2001, the putative project director, Ed Moloney wrote to Bob O’Neill, the Burns librarian at the college outlining the possible wording for the donor agreement but asking him to run it past the college’s lawyer. O’Neill replied in an email:

I am working on the wording of the contract to be signed by the interview[ee], and I’ll run this by Tom [Hachey] and university counsel.

The Chronicle of Higher Education wrote in its article published today that O’Neill has now admitted that he never did check with a lawyer and instead issued a contract to us that gave the interviewees complete control and ownership of the interviewees until they died. Instead the contract should have warned participants that the interview could be seized by the authorities.

The article, quotes Mr O’Neill as saying: 'In retrospect, that was my mistake.'

Mr Moloney commented:

We went ahead on the basis that we believed O’Neill had cleared the contract with lawyers and that it was safe for the participants to give interviews.  Had we known the true position the project would have been stillborn.
The Chronicle of Higher Education report can be read here.


  1. I found the Chronicle of Higher Education's article well-written (and sobering after all the well-intended effort by AM + EM and participants, so botched by BC) but I wonder why Chris Bray's site is not cited in the article? He does appear in the comments below unfolding at the original site. I hope this in-depth coverage leads to not only vindication but a measure of justification.

  2. John,

    I wondered the same but assume it is as he is an indirect third party who managed to show all the faults that BC was willing to hide behind.
    And again is still holding the fort on the comments section all the same it could simply be an oversight as his deconstruction of BC was more than helpful throughout the debacle.

    It would have been nice even if he was only acknowledged but then again the essay was long and trying to give space to the main parties involved was more of a balancing act of impartiality.

    I could be wrong but BC didn’t come out looking like defenders of academia but deniers who had no intentions of defending their project.

  3. This is a terrible situation. As someone who does academic research on the Troubles these interviews are an invaluable, irreplaceable source of information. In 1998 and 1999 I had the honor of spending some time with Brendan Hughes. In truth I was put on to him by a member of Provisional Sinn Fein who had known him in the Cages and told me he was a person of unimpeachable character.

    Brendan Hughes taught me more about the Troubles in two hours than I learned in ten years of reading and doing research. I realize that some people have tried to impeach his credibility for their own reasons but I found him to be a person of quality and enormous integrity. I was taken aback by how humble he was and how he sought no glory for what was, in fairness, a storied career. There are books, songs and poems written about Irish patriots who did far less than he did.

    I promised him I would never quote him or use his name in any publication without his permission but I walked away believing that it would be literally impossible to accurately tell the story of what happened in the North since 1969 without in-depth knowledge of the actions and beliefs of Brendan Hughes. There are very few people more important to an accurate rendition of the period.

    I was thrilled when I learned of the existence of the Belfast Project. I've done research at the Burns Library - I first read the Scarman Tribunal Report there in fact. Ed Moloney's book is invaluable and will be for decades to come. When I first learned of its existence I had a private laugh because I used to tell people that the solution to the Troubles should have been to put Brendan Hughes and David Ervine in a room and go with whatever they agreed upon. I also interviewed David Ervine and was profoundly impressed with his intelligence and sense of fairness.

    Boston College needs to live up to its promises and America needs to end its post 9/11 hysteria. And even though this would hurt my work, the Irish people need to gain a healthy distrust of the intentions of the American government towards Ireland.

  4. Jack Conway,

    If Boston College had defended their project that would have been helpful but they folded practically before it was out the door.
    I think you are probably right as it does look like they were trying to disown their responsibility and caught up in the post 9/11 hysteria which for them became paranoia.
    It is a disgrace as their actions will put a damper on further academic projects.