BOSTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily blocked a federal judge in Boston from turning confidential taped interviews with a former member of the Irish Republican Army over to police in Northern Ireland.
The interviews, with convicted IRA car bomber Dolours Price, were part of a Boston College oral history project on the bloody violence between Catholic and Protestant paramilitaries.
A judge had ordered that the tapes be turned over to help British police solve the IRA’s 1972 killing of a Belfast woman. But the two project researchers appealed the judge’s order, saying it would endanger their lives.
Wednesday’s stay of a lower court order by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer blocks the turnover for now.
“To a man on the guillotine, any stay is consequential,” said civil libertarian Harvey Silverglate, who has been following the case. “The case would have been over and moot had Justice Breyer not acted. So this is very important.”
Price and other former IRA members were interviewed between 2001 and 2006 as part of The Belfast Project, a resource for journalists, scholars and historians studying the long conflict in Northern Ireland known as The Troubles.
The stay holds until Nov. 18 while the full court weighs whether to take up the case.
With reporting by the WBUR Newsroom and The Associated Press, from Washington