Discussion of Boston College/IRA Oral History Case

SAA’s Government Affairs Working Group has drafted a document summarizing a case in which Boston College had signed an agreement to house oral histories regarding the “Troubles in Ireland” that later were subpoenaed.  Read this fascinating discussion – along with comments about "archival privilege."   [Note: The document is under review for minor revision. Watch this space.]

See the Oral History Section’s website for more information about the "Belfast Case." 

March 5, 2013 - Ed Moloney, former director of the Belfast Project at Boston College, challenges various details of the discussion paper in this response, which he has requested that SAA make public.   For more information on this subject, see Boston College Subpoena News, a site where numerous documents about the case have been posted.  

1 Comment(s) to the "Discussion of Boston College/IRA Oral History Case"
molon34306 says:
Boston College debate - missing email - from Ed Moloney

Yesterday I sent to the SAA a document responding to the background paper the society had prepared on the Boston College subpoenas case. The SAA background paper was strewn with errors, some alarmingly basic and showed a disturbing lack of understanding about the preparation of contracts used in the Belfast Project, thanks in no small measure to the fact that none of your researchers had bothered to contact me or my former staff for comment and/or information.

One key communication that I had included in my response was an email sent to me by the Burns Librarian at BC, Bob O'Neill concerning the preparation of the most important document in the project, the donor contract. This contract set out the terms and conditions of the interview and was to be signed by the interviewer and the interviewee. BC's case, faithfully repeated in your background paper, is that myself and my researchers prepared this contract and that we neglected to warn interviewees in the contract that confidentiality was subject to and limited by American law. We strongly dispute this version of the genesis of the contract and have insisted all along that BC put together that contract and that any failing was on their part. The email that the SAA refuses to publish is proof that we are telling the truth.

The SAA leadership has refused to reprint that email for reasons that I cannot fathom. It is a letter to me, is stored on my computer and is therefore mine to do with whatever I please. However I cannot force the SAA to publish something when it will not do so. I do though deeply regret that decision as it denies key information to your members which persuasively undermines Boston College's case against the Belfast research team.

However I would like your membership to know what that email had to say. The email from Bob O'Neill was in response to three questions I had posed to him. One concerned membership of an advisory committee that had been proposed to oversee the project (BC actually never did set up the committee, a failure which I believe contributed to subsequent problems); the second was to give written confirmation of Anthony McIntyre's employment, which he needed to establish his credit worthiness; and the third was a request that he and the college's lawyers prepare the donor contract, i.e. the agreement which BC now claims I and the researchers prepared.

O'Neill's answer was that he was working on the wording of the contract, would run it past Tom Hachey and the college's legal counsel and hoped to have it cleared to send to me at the end of the week. I believe this email nails the lie completely and unreservedly that the researchers in Belfast were responsible for the contract and its wording. Boston College prepared that contract and the email is conclusive proof of that. Should any of your members wish to see a copy I will happily oblige and they can contact me at edmoloney01@gmail.com.

Ed Moloney