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Belfast Project update: Decision by US is next step

By Ed Forry, July 31, 2013

BC waits to see if US Justice Department decides to appeal
The long and winding road that has been the Belfast Project interviews case involving Boston College, an abduction-and murder probe by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), the US government, and the project director and his associates reached another crossroad at the end of last month as all parties awaited a decision by the US about a possible appeal of an adverse ruling to its case by the First Circuit Court of Appeals on May 31 of this year.

In its ruling, the appeals panel said that US District Court Judge William Young had abused his discretion with respect to the disposition of interview material from the Boston College archive and ordered the university to release only 11 segments of the 85 interviews with 7 former IRA members that the District Court had deemed relevant to the murder investigation in Northern Ireland. The 74 other interviews are no longer subject to release, the court said.
The US government was given until Aug. 2 to decide whether or not to appeal the Circuit Court’s decision.
Said BC spokesman Jack Dunn as he awaited the government’s next move: “Boston College’s intention was to be a repository of an oral history project that would serve as a future resource for historians and scholars seeking a better understanding of The Troubles, while also helping to promote peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. At no time did Boston College desire to obfuscate a criminal investigation into a horrific abduction and murder. That is why Boston College asked the US District Court to review the tapes to make a determination as to their relevance, while also considering the University’s request to balance the treaty obligation [between Northern Ireland and the US] against its interest in protecting academic research and the enterprise of oral history.
“We have always believed that the US courts would review the matter with appropriate discretion and make an informed judgment on the case in accordance with American law. Nothing that transpired has changed that view.“