Blogs > Cliopatria > Boston College (Cont.): Fishing Harder

Aug 23, 2011

Boston College (Cont.): Fishing Harder

A brief and inelegant update: Boston College received new federal subpoenas, earlier this month, for oral history materials relating to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The August 2 subpoenas, filed under seal on behalf of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and revealed a few days ago by BC's public filing of a motion to quash, demand "any and all interviews containing information about the abduction and death of Mrs. Jean McConville" (see this post for background). McConville's murder has been in the background of the DOJ's efforts all along; this new set of subpoenas makes explicit an investigative effort that was both unstated and pretty clear.

More remarkably, these new subpoenas threaten to expose oral history sources that have so far been protected. While the original subpoenas served on BC in May demanded interview materials from two people already publicly known to have spoken to researchers, the new subpoenas would expose up to two dozen other interviewees whose identities have never been revealed.

The new subpoenas also attempt to turn Boston College into an investigative agency, demanding that BC examine every Belfast Project interview in its possession so it can hand over all of the information it may have in its archives regarding McConville's death. As BC's lawyer writes in his motion to quash, "The second subpoenas would require the university to perform a detailed analysis of all the Belfast Project interview materials to ascertain if they contain information 'about the abduction or death of Mrs. Jean McConville.' The volume of work required to undertake that analysis, and to make determinations about what might constitute such information, would impose a substantial burden on Boston College."

As long as the PSNI is taking shortcuts, they should just ask BC to go ahead and arrest McConville's killers for them. Of course, this assumes that the PSNI actually wants to catch McConville's killers, so never mind.

In related news, this morning's Boston Globe has an op-ed piece from Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, respectively the director of BC's Belfast Project and its lead researcher on the IRA.

I'm traveling -- more later.

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