Tag Archives: Belfast Project

Belfast Project: A New Subpoena To Boston College

Update: According to the BBC, McIntyre means to bring an action in the High Court in Belfast to try to stop the latest subpoena.

The US government, acting pursuant to the US/UK mutual legal assistance treaty, has apparently obtained an order from the District Court in Boston for issuance of a subpoena to Boston College in the Belfast Project case. We can glean from the new subpoena that the UK authorities are investigating charges including attempted murder, illegal possession of explosives, conspiracy, illegal possession of an imitation firearm, and membership in a proscribed organization. On their behalf, the US government is seeking the recordings of interviews of Anthony McIntyre (that is, interviews in which he is the person interviewed, not interviews in which he was the interviewer).
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Belfast Project: Chris Bray On The The Ivor Bell Case

Chris Bray, friend of Letters Blogatory and critic of the US and UK governments in the Belfast Project case, is back with an update on the British authorities’ decision to proceed with the prosecution of Ivor Bell.

After more than a year of bumbling indecision, the Public Prosecution Service of Northern Ireland has taken a bold stand: They are beginning to prepare to think about discussing a way to begin. Franz Kafka, call your office.

Fourteen months ago, using questionable evidence obtained from the archives at Boston College with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice, prosecutors in Northern Ireland filed charges against Ivor Bell, who is now 77 years old. Bell is reputed to have been chief of staff to Gerry Adams during the period when the latter was allegedly the Belfast commander of the Provisional IRA, and he was charged in the 1972 kidnapping and murder of the Belfast widow Jean McConville. But he wasn’t charged with that kidnapping and murder; rather, he was charged with having aided and abetted in that crime.

Today, forty-three years after McConville was killed, no one has been charged with killing her, or even publicly identified as a suspect; Ivor Bell is accused of aiding a crime committed by ghosts. News stories have alleged that Adams ordered her killing, but even those claims lack the most basic facts: Who took her out of her home? Who drove her to the beach where her body was found? Who killed her? In the police version of events, which must necessarily underlie an allegation of aiding and abetting, what was the name of the person who pulled the trigger? In short, if Ivor Bell aided and abetted, whom did he aid and abet? Did Bell assist a self-firing gun?

After Bell was first charged last March, the PPS began a long delaying action that saw them returning to court every few weeks to ask for one continuance after another. Finally, this May, a judge in Belfast gave the prosecutors an ultimatum: Make a decision in June, or have the case thrown out of court. So they did. On Thursday morning, the PPS marched back into court to announce that they had decided to proceed with the prosecution of Ivor Bell. They return to court in six weeks.

They are not, however, returning to court in six weeks to begin to prove their case. Here’s how the Irish Times describes the next court date in its story on the most recent developments:

Mr Bell was released on continuing bail and ordered to come back to court in six weeks when a date will be set for a preliminary inquiry to establish whether the case will proceed to trial in the Crown Court. While the PPS lawyer said six weeks was needed before prosecutors would be in a position to set a date due to extensive preparatory work required, Bell’s solicitor Peter Corrigan questioned the timeframe.

If “extensive preparatory work” is required, what they have been doing for the last fourteen months? Never mind that: They will now begin to prepare. In another month and a half, we’ll know if prosecutors in Belfast are able to set a date for an initial hearing that might then, at some future point, lead to an actual trial. Perhaps at the hypothetical future trial someone in Northern Ireland’s system of law enforcement will be able to whisper the name of Jean McConville’s actual supposed murderer. But perhaps not.

The murder of Jean McConville has become a can to be kicked endlessly down a road. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston must be very proud to have helped with this important effort.