Adams accuser Price dead at 61; a central figure in BC tapes case She said Sinn Fein leader ordered ’73 bomb attacks
By Ed Forry, February 7, 2013
BY SHAWN POGATCHNIK
DUBLIN – An Irish Republican Army veteran who accused Sinn Fein party chief Gerry Adams of involvement in IRA killings and bombings was found dead in her home on Thurs., Jan. 24, according to police.
Dolours Price, 61, was a member of the Provisional IRA unit that launched the very first car-bomb attacks on London in 1973. She later became one of Irish republicanism’s most trenchant critics of Adams and his conversion to political compromise in the British territory of Northern Ireland.
Police said her death the night before at her home in Malahide, north of Dublin, was possibly the result of a drug overdose and foul play was not suspected. But it could have implications as far away as the US Supreme Court.
In interviews Price repeatedly described Adams as her IRA commander in Catholic west Belfast in the early 1970s when the outlawed group was secretly abducting, executing, and burying more than a dozen suspected informers in unmarked graves. Adams rejects the charges.
Since 2011 Northern Ireland’s police have been fighting a legal battle with Boston College in the USA to secure audio-taped interviews with Price detailing her IRA career to see if they contain evidence relating to unsolved crimes, particularly the 1972 kidnapping and murder of a Belfast widow, Jean McConville. Price allegedly admitted being the IRA member who drove McConville across the Irish border to an IRA execution squad.
Boston College commissioned the collection of such interviews with veterans of Northern Ireland’s paramilitary warfare on condition their contents be kept secret until each interviewee’s death. Early last year, Federal Judge William Young ordered the university to turn over the tapes to the police. Then, in October, the US Supreme Court blocked the handover pending resolution of a string of other connected lawsuits and legal challenges in lower US courts. Her death could trigger a new wave of legal petitions on both sides, with one already on the federal docket.
[The Associated Press reported that on Jan. 28, lawyers for Boston College filed a motion with the First US Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston noting that Price’s demise means that she can no longer be the subject of any prosecution by police in Northern Ireland. BC is also asking that its own appeal of Young’s ruling be dismissed as moot because of Price’s death, the AP story said.
[In a statement about the filing, BC spokesman Jack Dunn said Price’s death ‘‘should bring a close to the pending case regarding the subpoenas for the confidential oral history materials from the Belfast Project.’’ Dunn said the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty on Criminal Matters invoked by the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom ‘‘provides that the treaty does not pertain to matters in which the government anticipates that no prosecution will take place. Given that Dolours Price has died, the university believes that the case should be dismissed,’’ Dunn said.
[Christina DiIorio-Sterling, a spokeswoman for US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, declined to comment to the AP. She said prosecutors plan to file a response with the court.]
On news of Price’s death, Ed Moloney, the Irish journalist who oversaw collection of the taped testimonies, and Anthony McIntyre, the former IRA convict who actually conducted the interviews from 2001 to 2006, lauded Price as “both a friend and a valued participant in the Belfast Project.’’ They blamed the police’s pursuit of her testimony for hastening her death, and vowed that their own legal fight to prevent police from receiving any tapes from the Boston College archive would continue “with renewed vigor.’’
“Throughout the last two years of our fight to prevent her interviews being handed over to the police in Belfast, our greatest fear was always for the health and well being of Dolours,’’ Moloney and McIntyre said in a statement. ``Now that she is no longer with us, perhaps those who initiated this legal case can take some time to reflect upon the consequences of their action.’’
Price joined the IRA as a Belfast teenager, in part because her father, Albert, was a senior IRA figure. She led a 10-member IRA unit that planted four car bombs in central London on March 8, 1973, including outside the Old Bailey criminal courthouse and Scotland Yard police headquarters. Two detonated, wounding more than 200 people.
After the Provisional IRA cease-fire of 1997 paved the way for Adams’s Sinn Fein party to enter a new power-sharing government in Northern Ireland, Price denounced Adams as a hypocrite who had betrayed the cause of forcing Northern Ireland into the Irish Republic.
And in a 2012 interview with Britain’s Sunday Telegraph, Price accused Adams of sanctioning the 1973 bomb attacks during a Belfast IRA meeting. “Adams started talking and said it was a big, dangerous operation. He said: ‘This could be a hanging job.’ He said: ‘If anyone doesn’t want to go [to London], they should up and leave now through the back door at 10-minute intervals.’ The ones that were left were the ones that went. I was left organizing it, to be the OC (officer commanding) of the whole shebang,’’ Price was quoted as saying.
When asked later about Price’s criticisms, Adams said he had “no concerns about any of those issues because they are not true.’’
Dolours married the Belfast actor Stephen Rea in 1983, and they had two sons, but he divorced her in 2003.