Explain, Ed?

Danny Morrison is a writer in Belfast. He is the former national director of publicity for Sinn Féin and was imprisoned during the Troubles. This post was previously published at Morrison’s blog. A reply by Anthony McIntyre will follow later today.

Ed Moloney has some explaining to do. In his affidavit to a Belfast Court two weeks ago he stated categorically that Dolours Price in her interviews with Anthony McIntyre for Boston College’s ‘Belfast Project’ does “not once mention the name Jean McConville … nor that she received orders to disappear people from Gerry Adams or any other IRA figure.”

It only took him two years and seven months to correct a perception that he and McIntyre by their silence had perpetuated and fostered, fuelling dozens of newspaper features and television and radio programmes. Not that his affidavit was intended to do Adams any favours. It was just one more desperate attempt to win over a court, in this case in Belfast, to help prevent the repatriation of the worst oral archive project in the history of the world.

Moloney and McIntyre’s incredulous defence before courts in the US and Belfast has several strands: their ‘concern’ for McIntyre’s safety; their ‘concern’ for the peace process and for those republican architects of it whom their interviewees have incriminated; and their ‘concern’ for the damage done to oral history projects and academic research.

On all counts they have no defence.

McIntyre baits mainstream republicans almost daily in his statements and writings, indicating that he does not consider them a threat (which was why his court submission in Belfast read so tongue-in-cheek).

McIntyre considers the Belfast Agreement a sell-out, and Moloney’s ‘Voices From The Grave’, interpreted by most reviewers as a major attack on Adams, showed no concern for the effect his allegations against Adams would have on the peace process.

With regard to the oral history project and the duty of care they had towards interviewees, Moloney and McIntyre were warned by Boston College that each interviewee of the project was to be given a contract guaranteeing confidentiality “to the extent that American law allows.”

Dolours Price’s 2010 interview with the ‘Irish News’, followed a month later by Ed Moloney’s publication of ‘Voices From The Grave’, followed by his television documentary based on the same book, each played a part in provoking the two subpoenas in the USA from British authorities seeking the tapes as potential evidence in prosecutions.

Rather than accept that he has been hoist on his own petard he has gone to extraordinary lengths to blame the ‘Irish News’ and the ‘Sunday Life’ newspapers for publishing an interview with Dolours Price in 2010 in which she made allegations against Gerry Adams, the same allegations that Moloney published about Adams in his book. The fact is that Ed Moloney would have no concern for the peace process and would have had no hesitation in publishing Dolours Price’s allegations or those of other interviewees in ‘Voices From The Grave II, III & IV etc.’ had Dolours Price or other interviewees died. In fact, implicit in a letter from Boston College librarian Justine Sundaram to me is that Moloney has exclusive rights to publication of the tapes. But how dare anyone else publish interviews with his pets while they are alive! Particularly, if their interviews cover the subjects contained in the Boston College archive!

Here is how Ed Moloney recently depicted Dolours Price at the time she was interviewed in February 2010 by Allison Morris of the ‘Irish News’:

When Dolours Price’s family heard that she had given an interview to Allison Morris they were alarmed. She had a history of psychiatric problems and substance abuse. She has been diagnosed with PTSD, had been hospitalized repeatedly and was taking strong psychotropic drugs. Indeed on the day she spoke to Morris she was on day leave from St Patrick’s Psychiatric Hospital in Dublin. Her family believed that in her mental state, and because of her anger over Gerry Adams’ disavowal of the IRA, she was capable of saying literally anything and getting herself into undeserved trouble.

Yet, two weeks after the Morris interview, Moloney flies in from New York and he himself interviews her! But why? What was he doing interviewing a person he considered to be a seriously ill woman? Surely, Anthony McIntyre’s ten or eleven interviews with her were adequate and comprehensive? Had Moloney done follow-up interviews with others in the project or was she the only one? Again, if so, then why?

When Dolours Price was interviewed in the Irish and US media last week (Moloney indelicately described her as going “on the rampage”), she was adamant that what she was saying in these interviews she had said in interview for the Boston College Belfast Project, thus undermining Moloney and McIntyre’s attempts to blame the ‘Irish News’ for the mess (instead of themselves for initiating the project) but also potentially calling into question Moloney’s affidavit in which he stated that she did not make these allegations against Adams in her interviews with McIntyre.

However, this can be squared. When Moloney read the ‘Irish News’ interview in 2010 did he discover that it had lurid details that were not in McIntyre’s interview? Was that what motivated him to come and re-interview Dolours Price so that he would have Adams being damned again? And if that is the case then doesn’t it once again expose the main motive of this project as being ‘Get Adams’?

I believe Moloney when he says in his affidavit that in her interview with McIntyre Price does “not once mention the name Jean McConville … nor that she received orders to disappear people from Gerry Adams or any other IRA figure.”

The big question for Moloney now is this: can he say about his interview with Dolours Price what he was prepared to say under oath about the Dolours Price interview that was carried out by McIntyre: namely, that she does not mention Adams or Jean McConville?

Or was Adams what it was all about from Day One?

About Danny Morrison

Danny Morrison is a writer in Belfast. He is the former national director of publicity for Sinn Féin and was imprisoned during the Troubles.

13 thoughts on “Explain, Ed?

  1. Danny, thank you for posting here. I don’t see any evidence from the litigation itself suggesting M&M were out to “get Adams.” In other words, I think they have been playing to win and really do want to keep the tapes out of the UK government’s hands. That means, I think, that if you’re right about their motives, then they are playing a very long game and may not be in a position to “get Adams” for many years, maybe even after he is no longer in government. Doesn’t that seem implausible? Likewise, I think the speculation about the content of any Price/Moloney interview is somewhat implausible, given Moloney’s affidavit (which you don’t seem to suggest is false) and his public statements. That’s how it seems to me, anyway. I welcome your reaction!

  2. The fascinating thing about Danny Morrison’s piece is that he has nothing to say about the actions of the PSNI or the decision of the UK to use the MLAT to pursue these interviews. You reveal a lot about yourself by your choice of enemy.

    1. Chris, what’s your take on why Morrison and M&M have come to metaphorical blows? It’s a bit of a puzzle to me. First, both of them share an interest in the tapes not being produced. Second, I don’t think that Morrison and other Sinn Féin supporters are opposed in principle to the idea of oral histories of the Troubles. From the outside, it looks like their disagreements about whether the Good Friday Accords were a good idea are simply bleeding over into an area where they really shouldn’t be disagreeing. What do you think?

    2. In more direct response to your comment, I don’t suppose that’s surprising, because the Morrison/M&M dispute is an intra-republican dispute, not a dispute between the Irish and the British or between republicans and unionists.

  3. In other news, I just got this response to an email message from the press office of the police agency for the Republic of Ireland:

    An Garda Síochána are investigating all the circumstances surrounding the death of this person [Jean McConville]. We would urge any person with information to contact An Garda Síochána, the Garda Confidential Line 1-800-666-111 or any Garda Station.

    Kind Regards
    Damian Hogan
    Duty Sergeant
    Garda Press Office.

    —–

    It’s evening in Dublin, so I’ll call them to follow up on Monday, but it appears that the PSNI is not the only police agency investigating the McConville kidnapping and murder. McConville was killed in the South, and Dolours Price lives in the South and has made her recent public statements there, so this makes sense.

    What I don’t know yet is whether or not the Gardai have tried to question Dolours Price directly.

  4. Ted,

    you are somewhat mistaken in assuming it is an intra-republican debate. Ed Moloney is a journalist not someone with a republican axe to grind one way or the other. I bring the republican dimension to my writings. Ed is a straightforward journalist. He called Sinn Fein out so often and the party consequently loathes him. The party is tightly controlled, deeply censorious and as such finds it difficult to live with alternative ideas, seeking always to suppress them.

    You would imagine both parties to the discussion would share an interest in not having the tapes returned. But things are never what they seem now are they?

    1. Anthony, your point about Ed is well-taken, though I assume he’s not a unionist!

      Are you saying that you think Morrison wants the tapes to come out? I love a good conspiracy theory, but I just don’t see how that can be plausible.

  5. More hot air from Anthony McIntyre. I am on record from the outset as opposing the repatriation of the tapes but that will not stop me from placing the responsibility for this debacle where it fully belongs. They blame everyone but themselves. Promises were made and assurances given to the interviewees that Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre could not keep. Anthony McIntyre never cautioned the interviewees about incriminating their comrades (which is the real ‘time-bomb’, so to speak, that he fears). But, of course, that’s somebody else’s fault – it’s Boston College, it’s the ‘Irish News’, the ‘Sunday Life’, the PSNI, Dolours Price (who went “on the rampage” – Moloney), Niall O’Dowd, Danny Morrison etc., etc.
    In September 2011, I wrote: “The organisers and some participants provoked this court case – though we have a duty to defend the confidentiality of the archive though not alone on the spurious grounds suggested by the organisers.”
    It wasn’t I who published ‘Voices From The Grave’, a book that slanders many republicans (including myself) who were never given the opportunity to defend themselves. It was the authors who broke the confidentiality of the archive and brought attention to it as a source of potential evidence. It wasn’t I who made the television documentary based on the book but Ed Moloney.
    Did Anthony McIntyre or Ed Moloney never anticipate the obvious – that the family of Jean McConville (among others) were bound to press the PSNI for the tapes for their possible (though questionable) evidential value?
    Regarding their belated concern for the peace process: have they any idea of the laughing stock they are in the eyes of many republicans and hard-working Sinn Féin activists and elected representatives who have been riled and ridiculed by both men for more than a decade? Anthony McIntyre scores an own goal by suggesting that part justification by the Belfast judge for turning down his judicial review were words that I had written but omits to say that it was his writings and outlook I was quoting and responding to!
    If you criticise McIntyre or Moloney you are an agent of the state! If you offer support to the campaign, as Niall O’Dowd recently did, you are called “one of the world’s great ass-holes” (The Broken Elbow – Ed Moloney). How to win friends.
    I hope the tapes are not repatriated. I have met with some of the interviewees who deeply regret ever participating. Should there be a delay in the schedule for judicial hearings then the last hope may well rest with the political lobbying and with the hope of an Obama victory.
    If the PSNI’s attempts fail then I want to see the worst oral archive project in the history of the world destroyed for good. That’s the least that Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre could do to make amends.

  6. Ted,

    Ed is neither an advocate of unionism or nationalism. While in the North he was at the cutting edge of investigative journalism.

    Does Danny want the tapes handed over? I honestly do not know. He backs the British PSNI although we can’t infer from this that he would support everything they do. All we can do is look at what is in front of us in the public arena. The thrust of his discourse dovetails with the PSNI to a point where the difference between he and they is paper thin. His stance towards the researchers is malign while it is benign toward the PSNI raiding party. That can be easily gleaned from an observation of his written and spoken discourse on the matter. If he genuinely is opposed to the tapes being ‘repatriated’ he makes a very weak case. His main emphasis is clearly on trying to discredit the project which ultimately butresses the British case to seize the archive.

    Again thanks for hosting such a discussion on this excellent legal blog. I know it is not your usual fare.

  7. It is pointless for either Anthony McIntyre or Ed Maloney to blame a political opponent for kicking them in the balls when they are down, that is what political opponents do.

    It is equally pointless for them to criticise cops for going after the tapes and doing what cops do.

    Why the gardai would converse by email with Chris Bray about a live investigation of which he is not part and really has no business involving himself in, is a mystery to me.

    I agree with Ted that the blame does not all belong to BC, but must be shared equally among those that drew up contracts they could not legally stand over. Yes BC behaviour was less than perfect, but Anthony McIntyre agreed with William Crawley on his Sunday morning show that on hindsight they should have sought legal advice, and that that was a mistake. Its why they are where they are now, in a mess mainly of their own making.

    1. “Why the gardai would converse by email with Chris Bray about a live investigation of which he is not part and really has no business involving himself in, is a mystery to me.”

      And? The press office of a government agency responded to a simple question — it’s the mystery of the century, for sure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *