It is a sad day for Journalism... If Boston College truly believes that no harm can come from releasing Dolores Price's taped interviews, they don't have their finger on the pulse...
As long as Marian Price still sits in solitary, in ailing health, long after she was twice issued judicial release...the reprecussions could be swift and sure
What I cannot understand is why an American intitution of learning is being made to kowtow to BRITISH authority.
It's Uncle Sam that's putting the pressure on BC.
I know Jim, and that is compleetly baffling. Why should they capitulate to such a request and damage our Journalistic integrity in the process? Would they be so willing to acquiese if it were another International governmental agency? I think not. So why then the blatant kiss-arse approach now?
I know a lot of people who could be negatvely affected by these tapes being released. I see no good coming from it. None whatsoever
Nobody who cares about "journalistic Integrity" and more precisely the future of oral history is happy with this outcome, but that's not the point. I understand your frustration, but the point is that the case was heard in the United States, tried in our courts, and the university has to comply with the laws (and judicial decisions) of our country. BC appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, and that as far as it can go.
So what do we do, Jim? Throw our hands up and say a prayer for all those who will be persecuted now that these tapes have been gift-wrapped and handed over? The Weston Park accord portion, which was signed 1 August 2001, three years after the GFA was signed, handed over a nice list for the Powers that be, as well.
Paragraph 20 of the Weston Park Accord 2001 states:
"supporters of organisations now on cease-fire against whom there are outstanding proceedings, and in some cases extradition proceedings, for offences committed before 10th April 1998 would if convicted, stand to benefit from the early release scheme. The Governments accept that it would be a natural development of the scheme for such prosecutions not to be pursued and will as soon as possible, and in any event before the end of the year, take such steps as are necessary in their jurisdictions to resolve this difficulty so that those concerned are no longer pursued".
It then lists out those who would benefit from being cleared: Martin Corey, Gerry McGeough, Marian Price were all on that list. Gerry just recently garnered release after two years of Hell in Maghaberry...Martin Corey is still there..never had a trial or sentencing...Marian Price has twice been before a judge..twice been "released"...still sits in solitary...her health deteriorating...
Now, with the Boston Tapes, we will hand them more Ammo...more names...but this time there will also be Irish-Americans named...and not just joe average...high-powered people...politicians...well connected...
I guess I shall light a candle, say another prayer...and drop another card in the mail for Martin & Marian
Perhaps Boston College should have a bonfire.... hmmmmm
Is Rosemary Woods still alive??
LOL...wish that she were.... She died in 2005... I am thinking a nice large bonfire...to welcome in teh summer solstice...marshmallows toast better on a bonfire
there is so much potential harm arising from the release of Dolours Price's tapes that it is hard to know where to begin. But it is also important to remember that seven other tapes are also scheduled for handover and the effect of DP's interviews will undoubtedly be compounded by their contents.
First of all there is the likely human cost. People are likely to go to jail for things done in a conflict that we were all told was over and which had been ended by an agreement. That is important because the Troubles ended not in victory or defeat for one side or another but in a draw, a compromise and in that situation it is usual to draw a line under the past and move on. That was suggested and agreed during the talks that led to the final deal. Someone on this site made reference to the agreement at Weston Park which allowed for a general amnesty for all offences prior to 1998. Whatever happened to that pledge?
Second, the same people, as well as the researchers, are also likely to face violent recriminations from the IRA for talking to Boston College and thereby breaking IRA rules forbidding, on penalty of death, revealing secrets outside the organisation. So imprisonment and death are the immediate consequences.
Thirdly there is the political fallout. Anyone who has studied the case at the centre of this affair, the disappearance of Jean McConville, knows that all the paths lead in one direction, to the door of Gerry Adams. Now Adams has been the dominant force in Provisional politics since the early 1970's and the peace process is, without doubt, largely a product of his efforts.
But he has made enemies along the way, not least recalcitrant elements left over from the old RUC who deeply resent the policing reforms that became part of the peace process and they particularly resent the loss of the old Special Branch, the RUC's political force which was seen as Unionism's front line in the fight against the IRA. I have reason to believe that it is these elements in the new force, the PSNI, elements that some call jokingly the Continuty RUC, who are behind these subpoeanas.
If these interviews are handed over I can say, without compromising the contents, that there is no way that the authorities will be able to prosecute junior players in the McConville disappearance without including Adams on the charge list.
If Adams is charged think about the implications. The peace process was made possible because Adams was able to lead the IRA into a series of huge ideological compromises. For instance the Provisionals now de facto accept the principle of consent, which says that N Ireland will remain British as long as a majority of its people want it. The traditional republican stance on this has been that the consent principle is overridden by the principle of national self-determination, i.e. the will of the Irish people as a whole to break with Britain and to establish an independent entity on the whole island of island.
This will was expressed twice, once in 1919 and again in 1921 when in island-wide elections a majority voted for complete independence. The IRA got its mandate to wage war against N Ireland on the basis that these votes were flaunted in favour of the principle of consent on a small part of the island, i.e. the North which opted out of the new arrangements to stay British. In other words the IRA claimed its right to use violence because partition, justified by the consent principle, overturned the will of the people. It claims the right to kill and bomb in the name of democracy and it is why, despite the passage of time, that the physical force element in Irish politics has never gone away.
Abandoning all this, as Adams & Co did during the peace process, was a very big deal indeed and it caused ructions inside the Provisionals and a split in the ranks which still festers, But without this compromise the peace process would not have worked.
So now we have the prospect of Adams being put in the dock by the same government with whom he made this hugely significant compromise deal. This prospect goes to the heart of the age-old debate between constitutional and physical force nationalism in Ireland. Constitutionalists argue that peaceful negotiation is the way forward and this is the path now followed by Adams and his allies; the physical force wing argues back that you can't make deals with the devil; the devil will always betray you and so you can only trust the gun.
The sort of outcome that I have described above is manna from heaven for the physical force camp and should Adams be indicted for the McConville disappearance, as is a distinct possibility, the consequences for the Good Friday Agreement are obvious: it would be impossible for Sinn Fein to stay in government if their leader is dragged into court by a police force and a government with whom he made this compromise because the loss of face would be too much to bear; and the dissident IRA argument, the theologists of continued armed struggle would claim vindication for their central argument which is that you can never, ever trust the Brits.
The extraordinary thing about the BC subpoenas is that both Boston College and the US government are fully aware of all these implications. Boston College effectively opted out of the legal fight months ago in what has to be one the most shameful shows of academic funk in recent American history (in fact if I had not leaked the story to the New York Times I suspect the interviews would have been quietly handed over with no fuss at all) while the US government has been impervious to the argument that by supporting the subpoenas unconditionally the Obama White House is putting in danger an agreement that its two predecessors, the Clinton and Bush administration, put in place. Go figure!
With all due respect, Ed, there is a lot of conjecture in your piece and a huge assumption - that the British government and the Northern Ireland government really want to dig up these "old bones" and return Northern Ireland to how it was for 50 years. I would suggest that the lack of convictions in the Omagh bomb case, for example, would suggest that all the parties involved want to see things remain as they are at present, rather than return to the days of sectarian violence and guarded borders..
That's not to say that there hasn't been political posturing on this issue. That's what governments do. But governments like to do their real work behind the scenes.
so riddle me this, why did they serve the subpoenas? just for the fun of it?
Political posturing, perhaps.
for what purpose?
To placate the crazies in NI, I would guess.