UK & World News

  • 7 May 2014, 2:51

Irish Republicans Offered Boston Tapes Return

A college which interviewed republicans actively involved in the Troubles in Northern Ireland has offered to return the interviews to those who provided them.

It comes after some expressed concerns about their safety or legal exposure following the arrest of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams over the murder of widowed mother-of-10, Jean McConville.

His detention by police in Northern Ireland stemmed from allegations made by republicans in the interviews, which were part of a five-year Boston College oral history project, launched back in 2001.

When one of the interviewees, former IRA commander in Belfast Brendan Hughes, died in 2008 it emerged he had claimed Mr Adams was a senior IRA leader during the Troubles and had ordered Mrs McConville's killing.

It also emerged Old Bailey bomber Dolours Price, who died last year, had made similar allegations about the Sinn Fein leader.

Academics, historians and journalists decided to record interviews with people, including former paramilitaries, both republican and loyalist, about their roles in the 40 years of violence.

They were assured the information they divulged would not be made public until after their deaths.

"If interviewees in the Belfast Project express their desire to have their interviews returned to them, Boston College will accommodate their request upon proper identification," the college said in a statement on Tuesday.

Mr Adams, who was released after four days in custody on Sunday night, said material from the interviews was used by police when they questioned him over the 1972 abduction, murder and burial.

Police officers from Northern Ireland went to court in the US and gained access to the collection of tapes last year.

The college said it was no longer bound by restrictions on what it may do with the material.

Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn said several interviewees had already asked for the material to be returned to them, adding that the college would not be keeping its own copies.

He said: "Some are concerned for their safety, and some are concerned they could face possible PSNI actions."

Mr Adams held a news conference after he was freed, in which he said: "Let me very clear - I am innocent of any involvement in any conspiracy to abduct, kill or bury Mrs McConville.

"I have worked hard with others to have this injustice redressed and for the return of the bodies of others killed during the conflict and secretly buried by the IRA, and I will continue to do so."

He added: "The IRA is gone, finished."

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