Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (224)

Micheál Martin

Question:

224. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has received any representations in relation to the Boston College papers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5087/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Boston College has a long history of positive support for, and engagement in, the field of Irish Studies. It has played an important role in recording the history of Northern Ireland and the peace process which will be of ongoing value to historians and the study of conflict resolution. In March 2011 the British Government, acting on behalf of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, initiated proceedings with the US Department of Justice under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the two countries for the release of archived interviews held in Boston College. The archives are part of the Belfast Project, an oral history of Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries compiled by Mr McIntyre and Mr Moloney and deposited in the Burns Library at the College . Some of those whose testimony is included in the project have since died, including Dolores Price who passed away in recent months.

Legal challenges were launched by Boston College, and separately by Mr MacIntyre and Mr Moloney, to prevent the release of the material. In December 2011, these challenges were dismissed by US District Court Judge William Young. Further legal efforts by Mr MacIntyre and Mr Moloney were made but on 6 July, the US Federal Court of Appeal turned down their appeal.

The court ruling means that the archived material must be handed over by Boston College to the US authorities for onward transmission to their British counterparts. However Mr Moloney and Mr McIntyre are considering a motion for a re-hearing of the case. They also continue to keep their legal options open in the Belfast Courts.

Officials of my Department will continue to closely monitor any further developments.