The chief researcher in the Boston tapes oral project Anthony McIntyre has responded to heavy criticism from Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams that it “was flawed from the beginning”.
Reacting to the announcement that Boston College is willing to return the tapes to interviewees, Mr Adams said: “Everyone has the right to record their history but not at the expense of the lives of others.
“The Boston College Belfast Project was flawed from the beginning. It was conceived by Lord Paul Bew. He proposed Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre despite the fact that both individuals were extremely hostile to myself, Sinn Fein, the peace process and the political process.”
Mr Adams, in a statement, added: “This flawed project was exposed when Ed Moloney chose to capitalise on the death of Brendan Hughes and write a book called, ‘Voices From The Grave’.
“No republicans, including myself, who were slandered in that book were offered the opportunity before publication to rebut the allegations made against them.”
However, in his response, Mr McIntyre said: “Mr Adams complains that he was offered no opportunity to respond to claims made in the Boston College oral history project.
“Mr Adams has time out of number availed of the opportunity to assert that he had no hand, act or part in the abduction and killing of Jean McConville and that he played no hand, act or part in the IRA.
“The courtesy of responding to accusations was something never granted to Jean McConville. Mr Adams has had many opportunities that she was denied and will always be denied”
Mr McIntyre added that “his seeming objection that only a minority of the interviewees was sympathetic to his parliamentary career and political project is valid”.
“Yet it does not invalidate the value of the exercise,” he added.
“Boston judge, William Young who read all the republican interviews, described the project as a bona fide academic exercise of considerable intellectual merit.
“One purpose of an oral history project is to capture a number of narratives that would otherwise be unobtainable. That they might not conform to Mr Adams’ worldview is not a consideration for the historian. Mr Adams’ concern is that there are republican narratives which depict him as a Pinochet rather than a Mandela and for that reason he would rather see them smothered.”
Mr McIntyre added that “Boston College’s decision to offer to return the interviews to the people who donated them is something the institution could and should have done when urged by myself and Ed Moloney to take action of this type or something similar once it was clear that the college was in possession of an endangered archive”.
“Instead Boston College denied the right of return for material not subject to subpoena,” he said. “Its wilful refusal to take such measures led to a number of interviews subsequently being handed over to the British police by the college in the wake of a second subpoena.
“The decision to ask for their material to be returned is solely a matter for the interviewees.
“The one point of agreement between myself and Mr Adams is that the British state is not in the slightest interested in dealing honestly with the past.
“Unfortunately, neither is Mr Adams.”