RESEARCHERS behind the Boston College oral history project on the Troubles have again vowed to resist the surrender of tapes to police investigators.
The latest show of defiance comes following a further legal setback in the US yesterday when a judge ruled that the material should be released.
Despite assurances given to the interviewees by the project’s organisers — that the contents of the tapes would only be made public after their deaths — the PSNI has launched a legal bid to glean any possible evidence for an ongoing investigation.
In a statement released last night, researchers Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre said: “This afternoon’s judgment in Boston comes as no surprise. However, we will appeal Judge Young’s decision, along with the rest of our case, which will be heard in the US Court of Appeals in March when we expect a much more positive outcome.”
The researchers say they welcome Judge Young’s remarks about the Belfast Project, quoting him as saying: “I’ve read thousands of pages of the transcripts. This was a bona fide academic exercise of considerable intellectual merit.”
Mr Moloney and Mr McIntyre describe the judge’s comments as “the answer to those of our critics in Ireland who have labelled the Belfast Project ‘an anti-Adams exercise’.”
He added: “They have not read the interviews — Judge Young has.”
At a previous hearing, the same judge confirmed that six of the high-profile former terrorists involved have made reference to the disappearance and murder of a Belfast mother-of-10 in 1972.
In an Irish News interview last year, former IRA bomber Dolours Price said she was ordered to drive Jean McConville to her death by Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams — a claim consistently denied by Mr Adams.
Mr McIntyre has claimed his life would be in danger and his family put at risk if the tapes are handed over.
However, Ulster Unionist justice spokesperson Basil McCrea has welcomed the PSNI’s efforts.
The Lagan Valley MLA said: “I would commend the PSNI for their work so far in attempting to acquire tapes from the Boston College archive which could provide vital information on a number of murders such as that of Jean McConville who was abducted and killed by the IRA in 1972. I hope that this situation is resolved as soon as possible as it is certainly not beneficial to victims.”
Mr McCrea also said he hoped the tapes would be released to police sooner rather than later.
“It is imperative that the PSNI, and the courts, have the evidence which has been collected in order to bring those responsible to justice,” he said.
“Many families, such as the McConvilles, have waited for a very long time to hear the truth about who was involved and the circumstances of the death of loved ones.
“I hope that this wait will soon come to an end with the release of these tapes,” added Mr McCrea.