BOSTON — The Supreme Court on Monday turned away an appeal that sought to keep interviews with former Irish Republican Army members from being turned over to police in Northern Ireland.
The order leaves in place a lower court ruling that ordered Boston College to give the Justice Department portions of recorded interviews with convicted IRA car bomber Dolours Price. Federal officials want to forward the recordings to police investigating the IRA’s 1972 killing of Belfast widow, Jean McConville.
Price, 61, who died in January, and other former IRA members were interviewed between 2001 and 2006 as part of The Belfast Project – a Boston College oral history meant as a resource for journalists, scholars and historians studying the long conflict in Northern Ireland. Price’s death was not considered suspicious.
The interviews were supposed to be kept secret until the deaths of the subjects. The researchers who ran the project and conducted the interviews have argued that the participants’ lives could be endangered if their identities are revealed publicly because they could be branded as informants.
In October, Justice Stephen Breyer temporarily blocked the interviews from being turned over.
Project director Ed Moloney and ex-IRA gunman Anthony McIntyre, who conducted the interviews, last year challenged the decision by U.S. authorities to subpoena the records.
A U.S. appeals court in Boston found that Moloney and McIntyre had no right to interfere with the police request under the terms of a treaty between the United States and United Kingdom that requires the two to aid each other’s criminal investigations. The court also said criminal investigations take precedence over academic study.
McConville’s killing has received widespread media attention in Ireland because of allegations that Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams commanded the IRA unit responsible for ordering her execution and secret burial. Adams has denied that. Moloney has said he believes the recordings could endanger the peace.
Boston College has argued that because Price is dead, she can no longer be the subject of any prosecution by police in Northern Ireland.
A message was left Monday with a Boston College spokesman.