Northern Ireland

Boston College tapes: PSNI bid to obtain all material

The tapes are being held at Boston College
Image caption The transcripts of interviews with former republican and loyalist terrorists are being held at Boston College

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has confirmed that it is seeking to obtain all material relating to Boston College's Belfast Project.

The project features interviews with dozens of former paramilitaries.

Previously, the PSNI gained access to material from the project relating to the 1972 murder of Jean McConville.

Information from the recordings led to a series of arrests, including that of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

The PSNI said: "Detectives in Serious Crime Branch have initiated steps to obtain all the material from Boston College as part of the Belfast Project.

"This is in line with the PSNI's statutory duty to investigate fully all matters of serious crime, including murder."

A spokesman for Boston College, Jack Dunn, said it had not received anything from the US Department of Justice and "so it would be inappropriate to comment on speculation within Northern Ireland".

Breach of contract

The project was designed as an oral history of the Troubles.

Paramilitaries from the IRA and the Ulster Volunteer Force gave candid interviews to researchers employed by the university, on the understanding that their involvement would not be made public until after their deaths.

The PSNI used a treaty between Britain and the United States to obtain material relating to Mrs McConville.

Researchers fought the release of the interviews through the US courts.

They maintained that it would represent a breach of contract and trust, and violate the ethical code on the protection of sources.

Judge Young, who read the archive in order to determine which testimonies made reference to Mrs McConville, acceded to the PSNI request.

He did, however, describe the project as "a bone fide academic exercise of considerable merit".

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