Boston College has said that it will return the Belfast Project interview tapes to any interviewee who requests them, and that it will not keep copies of the tapes or transcripts that it returns. This is highly sensible. No doubt BC regrets its involvement in the whole affair and will be happy finally to wash its hands of it.

There is one aspect of this latest move that merits comment. Anthony McIntyre, who conducted many of the interviews and who, it turns out, was himself interviewed for the project, complains that BC should have returned the tapes earlier, perhaps even while the subpoenas were pending:

Boston College’s decision to offer to return the interviews to the people who donated them is something the institution could and should have done when urged by myself and Ed Moloney to take action of this type or something similar once it was clear that the college was in possession of an endangered archive. Instead Boston College denied the right of return for material not subject to subpoena. Its wilful refusal to take such measures led to a number of interviews subsequently being handed over to the British police by the college in the wake of a second subpoena.

I’ve previously noted that of course BC couldn’t send the tapes overseas while a subpoena was pending. On this point, I think McIntyre’s criticism is not well-founded.