BOSTON TAPES: Loyalist stays quiet on saga

John S Burns library, Boston College,which was overseeing the interview archive
John S Burns library, Boston College,which was overseeing the interview archive

The man who interviewed loyalists for Boston College has declined a request to speak publicly about the episode.

The News Letter has been speaking to a number of people involved in the so-called Belfast Project, in which numerous republican and loyalist paramilitaries talked candidly about their actions during the Troubles.

The interviews were intended to be held by the university until the death of the participants, but ended in acrimony when it became known that some of the republicans made claims about the murder of Jean McConville, triggering a partially successful PSNI bid for access to the material.

The archive held 26 interviews with ex-IRA members and 14 with former UVF members, conducted by Wilson McArthur.

Anthony McIntyre, who carried out the republican interviews, has been outspoken about the affair, as has the project director Ed Moloney. McArthur, however, has said little about the controversy.

The News Letter did not approach McArthur directly but relayed a message to him via a contact, asking if he would speak about the tapes. A message came back quickly: “He does not want to speak.”

When we then asked if he would even discuss the project on an informal basis, we were told that he was adamant.

The contact said: “He is a very knowledgeable young man. I would say he is sad at the way things have turned out.”

‘PROJECT WOULD HAVE BEEN WORTHWHILE’

A source who is well connected within all sections of loyalism said of the tapes saga: “This project would have been worthwhile. Not all loyalists thought people should have taken part. Those who did were sincere people. If I had given an interview and suddenly the PSNI was calling, I would be very disappointed after the assurances it would be safe. There is no chance of someone coming forward now to speak about the past.

“They are talking about truth and reconciliation like South Africa? Who is going to bring the government to task? Will MI5 tell the truth? And republicans? Gerry Adams says he was not even in the IRA.

“Loyalists feel that the whole process is one-sided. It is not a level playing field.”

LINKS TO BOSTON TAPES STORIES:

Professor O’Neill slams College

Anthony McIntyre speaks about his role

Where are the tapes now?

Victims give their thoughts

Boston College statement on the saga

Timeline of the tapes

News Letter Morning View.