Supreme Court Decision A Reverse But Campaign Continues

Press release from Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre on today’s decision by the Supreme Court not to hear their challenge to the PSNI/Department of Justice subpeonas on Boston College:

The US Supreme Court today rejected a request from lawyers acting on behalf of Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre to hear their appeal against a lower court’s refusal to grant them standing in legal efforts to resist an attempt by the Police Service of Northern Ireland to gain access to IRA interviews archived at Boston College.

We began this fight almost exactly two years ago and all along the campaign has run on two tracks, one legal, the other political. The legal track has almost come to an end but the political campaign continues.

In recent weeks the United States government has been made aware of just how damaging to the political situation in Northern Ireland these interviews could be and how this PSNI request has both dubious motives and derives from a broader failure of the parties in the North to agree on a way to deal with the past in such a way as to allow the future to begin.

A few days ago the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Robert Menendez issued a statement in the form of a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry whose significance has gone largely unnoticed by the media. In that letter he referred to the United States’ role as “a steward” of the peace process in Northern Ireland while noting the potential of this PSNI action to “re-open fresh wounds and threaten the success of the Good Friday Accords”.

Addressing Secretary Kerry directly he continued: “…I encourage you to raise the potential political implications of this request with your counterparts in the United Kingdom and under any circumstance the United States should review whatever materials are shared carefully to ensure that their provision does not undermine the United States’ essential interest in the progress achieved by the people of Northern Ireland.”

We warmly welcomed Senator Menendez’ letter and hope and trust that Secretary Kerry will in the coming days act on his wise and well-informed advice.

This is a very disappointing decision by the Supreme Court but we wish to express our deeply felt gratitude to all those who were involved in the legal campaign, principally our attorneys Eamonn Dornan, JJ Cotter, Jonathan Albano who laboured long and hard in a tenacious and skilled legal battle against the combined legal forces of two governments.

They were ably and skillfully assisted by a large number of lawyer colleagues, including members of the ACLU of Massachusetts as well as Cliff Sloan, Bob McDonnell of Bingham McCutcheon, Sarah Wunsch, John Foley, Matt Seagal of the ACLU, Kevin Winters of Belfast, Peter Kissel and Mike Carroll to whom we also send our thanks.   All our legal advice was given on a pro bono basis, for which we will be forever grateful. If other names have been omitted by pressure of events we beg indulgence.

Amicus briefs were also presented to the Supreme Court in our support by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, by Article 19 and by a group of professors from Indiana led by our good friend Bob White. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts for their courage and a dedication to principle that was notable elsewhere for its absence. California attorneys, John De Stefano and Mary-Christine Sungaila gave great help in preparing the amicus briefs for which we are deeply indebted.

A special mention must be made of the Irish-American groups that came to support the campaign notably the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Brehon Law Society and the Irish American Unity Conference who worked tirelessly to prevent these interviews from being handed over. We thank them for all their great work.

A large number of individuals also gave freely of their support and advice and while all deserved to named we would like to thank in particular Sandy Boyer, Chris Bray, Lin Solomon, Harvey Silverglate, Sabina Clarke, Michael Cummings, Helen McClafferty, Cathleen O’Brien, Jim Lockhart, Tom Burke, Ed Lynch, Tim Miles, John Lowman and Ted Palys. They are just a few of the friendships we have made or cemented during this campaign.

We are also deeply indebted to our wives and families for all the loving support they gave us during this stressful period.

All of those involved in this campaign can be assured that it is not over yet.

19 responses to “Supreme Court Decision A Reverse But Campaign Continues

  1. Ed, this saddens me, knowing all the immense hard work. But yes, I know there is more for the future. Hope you are well.   Philip


  2. Such a decision coming from a government which runs an internment and torture camp like Guantanamo – what better could one expect?

  3. Galloway's Valet

    It’s a depressing, short sighted and surprising decision. The GFA required a lot of political heavy lifting stateside. This decision puts some of that work at risk. Let’s hope the political ‘track’ yields better results. Good luck.

  4. This decision by the United States Supreme Court flies in the face of reason. Not only does it have the potential to disrupt the already fragile peace process shepherded by the U.S. but it also impacts the First Amendment rights of all Americans and virtually silences all future oral history projects–making any promise of confidentiality hollow.

    • indeed sabina. but this is the age of post-911 when all interests are made secondary to state security, not least once cherished constitutional rights. and there’s money to be made out of it all as well!

  5. Michael McMenamin

    Does anyone reading this blog really think that either Mr. Menendez or Mr Kerry have been fully informed on the facts of this case or considered that there should be JUSTICE FOR JEAN MCCONVILLE ?? Thank goodness for the Supreme Court and their legal and objective viewpoint.

    • if jean mcconville deserves justice then so should pat finucane and other victims of state violence. justice must be even-handed otherwise it is not justice. sorry to be awkward but people like you michael only seek one-sided justice. another word for one-sided justice is revenge.

  6. Michael McMenamin

    Of course Pat Finucane and all victims of state violence, any violence, deserve justice too. “People like me” You dont know me sir, so please dont equate my making a plea for justice for an individual to mean I am a person seeking revenge. You problably know that such a personal attack is
    referred to ‘agrumentum ad hominem”.

    • i don’t care what it is called. “people like you” are people whose idea of justice is selective, give it to some but not to others. you are only mentioning pat finucane because i raised his name, otherwise i doubt whether the subject would have crossed your radar at all. on the jean mcconville case i am on record as describing it as a war crime but i oppose the efforts to obtain the boston college interviews on the grounds of academic/journalistic privilege and also because i strongly suspect a malign political motive behind the move. i also oppose efforts by the british government to cover up their part in the murder of a lawyer who was working as a defence attorney for IRA clients. again a malign political motive is very likely behind that move. it is very possible that if pat finucane were still alive and people were charged with jean mcconvile’s murder he would defend them and i would support his right to so do. but at the heel of the hunt, this case is all about double standards: subpoenas for jean mcconville’s family but none for pat finucane’s. i at least am consistent in my positions on all this. you are also but only when your errors are pointed out.

  7. Michael McMenamin

    Academic privilege was from the start a poor defense and the courts saw through it. With any victim its about the search for and the attempt to obtain truth and justice. Thats what its all about. The system often fails. For both sides.

    • you are unbelievable. you are accepting that there is no such thing as academic privilege and the right of the state to rifle through academic research for their own purposes and you seem quite happy with that. shame on you! the chilling effect that this can have on all academic research, especially in sensitive but important areas is horrifying. and then there is the knock on effect. if academics don’t have privilege then no-one does and the state will be allowed unfettered rights to rifle whichever files they wish. what then is the point of a written constitution. what was it pastor niemoller said: ‘first they came for the disabled, then they came….’ and so on. what has failed to penetrate your skull is that there are double standards here. the reason why jean mcconville’s interviews are being subpoenaed and pat finucane’s are not is that the state, in this case the british in alliance with the US, want to cover up their role in finucane’s death and use what information they can on mcconville to embarrass political opponents in ireland. this is not an attempt to obtain truth & justice, this is not the system failing; it is the system working.

  8. Galloway's Valet

    The defense of selective justice doesn’t really come as a surprise. After all, if there was ever a genuine reckoning of UK state crimes no dock would be wide enough. The magnitude is just too great: invasion and occupation in violation of the UN Charter, extraordinary rendition, depleted uranium, cluster bombs, the destruction of Fallujah, material support for ‘convenient’ dictators, and on, and on, and on….

  9. The schoolboy error in this entire saga has been the idea to trust the U.S. To believe the notion that any U.S administration would act in an honest way especially when it involves the auld enemy britain has been a major blunder. It is a myth that the U.S is a ‘friend to Ireland’. It has had to act as a friend for years because of Irish-American vote. In reality its real friend has been its partner in wars’, the UK. Those tapes wouldve been better stored in a moscow or beijing university. If the U.S had been a real friend they wouldve supplied the Irish ‘rebels’ with all the expertise and weapons etc it could muster during the troubles. After all they are/have been doing that to other ‘rebels’ around the world. Alas they didnt do it in Ireland because it wouldve upset their real friend. The sooner Irish people kop on to the likes of hillary,kerry,etc the better. At least George Bush was honest[never thought i’d say that] and didnt pretend to be a friend to Ireland.

    • !!?? yea, putin would have taken real good care of it! and the chinese woud have sent it to their mate kim il whateverhisname and he would have passed it all to his friends in the WP and irish labour party leadership. great idea!

  10. Didnt realise i touched a nerve. Sorry for my apparent stupidity. but i will still ask, is Putin or indeed ‘whateverhisname’, any more trustworthy than kerry,clinton or obama???????? They may have taken just as much ‘care’ of it as your ‘friends’ in the U.S did.

    • and your conclusion? don’t ever do it or try to do it, let real history remain untold. sorry my friend, that is the gospel of despair or, and maybe this is what really motivates you, is the advice of those who would rather that the history of their struggle and their organisations remain conveniently untold so that distortion and untruth can prevail?

  11. Trust me i never questioned the the making of the files, as a matter of fact i welcomed the making of them, i only questioned the decision to trust the US to safeguard the files. I absolutely believe these truths must be told. As a young man, i had the misfortune to end up in Long Kesh at the tail-end of the troubles, and i even witnessed the subtle demonisation of Brendan Hughes even though he wasnt even in the gaol! Some of these clowns had never met the man but were simply relaying the chinese whispers other older people were relaying to them. Alas i quickly realised that the people that were being badmouthed tended to be people who asked questions and werent nodding dogs. I therefore refused to shun these people which resulted in me getting the treatment too. I have no regrets; never gave up my principles and left that dump with my eyes more open than when i entered. The credit for that must go to others of the same credentials as Brendan Hughes

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