Those of you who have been following the Boston College saga will be aware of a series of articles both on my own blog, the brokenelbow.com and thewildgeese.com dealing with the background to the PSNI/DoJ subpoenas against Boston College and my conviction that these arose because of a piece of deception and chicanery on the part of two Belfast journalists, Allison Morris of the Irish News and Ciaran Barnes of the Sunday Life.
My case was that they fraudulently cited Boston College’s oral history archive as the source for a lurid story on Dolours Price’s alleged involvement in a series of IRA disappearances in 1972 when in fact the source was a taped interview done by Morris with Dolours Price.
In a deal with the Price family to protect Dolours, who gave the interview while under psychiatric care, the Irish News agreed not to use it but Allison Morris betrayed the family and passed the tape on to Barnes. He wrote that he had heard Dolours Price on a tape and wrote his report up so that it appeared that the tape had come from Boston College.
This “access” by Barnes was cited by the US attorney in Massachusetts to justify the subpoenas against Boston College. Morris later won two journalistic prizes for her article on Dolours Price.
In other words the basis of the subpoenas was bogus and was the result of an atrocious piece of dishonesty by two journalists in Belfast.
Ciaran Barnes has all this while been anonymously posting on the slugger o’toole website in Belfast, using a pseudonym, urging that the BC tapes be handed over and prosecutions instituted against those allegedly involved. He has been using the name ‘maradona’, the same as the Argentine football cheat and cocaine addict. Behaviour like this – such people are known as ‘trolls’ on the web – is bad enough when it is done by joe citizen but unconscionably unethical when practised by a journalist.
Ciaran Barnes has been outed by another Belfast blogger, Mark McGregor whose piece can be accessed here.
There are links in Mark’s piece to both thebrokenelbow.como the wildgeese.com articles.
As a member of that diaspora who experienced life as a bystander in “The Troubles,” I found your book, “Voices from the Grave” (an output as I understood it, of the Boston College project), a positive contribution to the emerging examination of the history of that period. More than that, In giving a unique insight into the lives of two senior IRA and UVF members – and perhaps, some solace to family members affected by violence – the interviews and the project as a whole, represent a step in the direction of a South Africa-style “Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”
Without something similar, in my view, a generation will remain hurt and bitter: and the opportunity to bring together two palpably divided communities will be missed. That can only mean a repetition of the violence of recent years at some point in the future.
I hope that the project will survive, as important principles and a move towards real change in Ireland are at stake here.
Is the great American tradition of standing up in defence of a principle still alive ?
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This behaviour on the part of the PSNI and the media collaborators indicates the bitterness of the ‘Troubles’ that still lingers.