“This was a bona fide academic exercise of considerable intellectual merit.”– Judge William G. Young
Aside from myself and Anthony McIntyre there is only one other person who has read all of the interviews lodged in the Belfast Project oral history archive at Boston College and that is Judge William Young of the Federal District Court in Boston, Massachusetts.
Judge Young got to read them because at the end of his hearing rejecting an application to quosh the subpoenas in December 2011 he asked Boston College librarian Bob O’Neill to select interviews that were respondent to the PSNI/DoJ request. O’Neill replied, in a sealed affidavit which was leaked in court, that he could not help as he had not read the interviews.
So we know from that exchange that the person at Boston College who was supposed to read the interviews hadn’t, or at least said he hadn’t and we know from what followed that Judge Young did. In response to O’Neill’s startling admission, Young said he would himself read the entire archive over the Christmas holidays and that is how we know that he is the only other person to have read the interviews.
A lot of other people, Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Fein among them, act as if they have and pronounce judgement on them as if they have. But they haven’t. In fact they haven’t read a single interview from beginning to end. Not a single one.
This is what Mr Adams had to say in his blog Leargas on Friday last:
“This project was flawed and biased from the outset. It was an entirely bogus, shoddy and self-serving effort. It was not a genuine or serious or ethically based history project.”
Mary Lou said something very similar on RTE’s Late Late Show a week ago on the same day that Ivor Bell was refused bail in the Belfast Magistrates Court (an event that brought banner headlines in contrast the virtual non-coverage, e.g. Irish Times, when four days later High Court judge, Reg Weir did grant him bail).
The comments of Adams and McDonald have been widely reported but I am still waiting for a reporter to call me for my take on the matter of political bias or lack of integrity vis a vis the archive.
Almost since this subpoena affair began we have run a blog which was set up and is regularly updated by Carrie McIntyre. Here is the address for the benefit of any in the media who don’t know about it: http://bostoncollegesubpoena.wordpress.com/.
I strongly recommend that reporters consult it at times like this because there is no other source to rival it in terms of a comprehensive record of events and archive of documents dealing with all aspects of the case.
On the opening page of the blog can be found the words of Judge William Young that have great relevance in light of the Adams/McDonald critique of the archive and here is what he says about it (And I think one can presume that Judge Young is not a critic of the peace process or a sneaking regarder of dissident republicanism!):
“[These materials] are of interest – valid academic interests. They’re of interest to the historian, sociologist, the student of religion, the student of youth movements, academics who are interested in insurgency and counterinsurgency, in terrorism and counterterrorism. They’re of interest to those who study the history of religions.”– Judge William G. Young
So that’s the judgement of the guy who read the entire archive, unlike Gerry Adams or Mary Lou McDonald. Do you get that? Unlike Gerry Adams & Mary Lou McDonald. Do I need to repeat that? UNLIKE GERRY ADAMS or MARY LOU McDONALD.
Is it too much to expect, to ask the media when next they report on the criticism of people like Adams & McDonald that they at least nod in the direction of someone who actually read the archive?
I don’t know much about Irish journalism, but I’m starting to get a clearer understanding and it isn’t very flattering. Throughout this entire affair, the question I keep asking is how Mr. Adams expects to get away with telling lies that can easily be proven false. The banner coverage given to attacks on the Boston College oral history project, by people who haven’t read a single interview, may be the answer I’ve been looking for.
Full disclosure; I know Ed slightly, have had lunch at his home, and admire his work. Having said that, I have no idea if he and Dr. McIntyre did a good job collecting interviews, if they are of historical value, or if, as Mr. Adams claimed, the whole thing was a shoddy frame up. Knowing that Ed is an award-winning journalist, I tend to believe that the oral history was conducted with the same professional competence that has typified the rest of his career, but I can’t say I KNOW that with certainty. No one can. Because NO ONE HAS READ THEM except Ed, Dr. McIntyre, and Judge Young.
An aggressive Fourth Estate is crucial to an informed electorate and a healthy democracy. There are all kinds of problems with journalism in the United States, especially having to do with the impact of the Internet and corporate ownership of news outlets. But what I’m starting to sense in the coverage of the Boston College project on both sides of the Irish border is a kind of willful blindness, a self-censorship of obvious truths that might result in political or professional backlash. This is as troubling as the recent revelations that London newspapers bribed policemen and blackmailed Members of Parliament. When citizens are denied access to the same information possessed by elites, effective participation in public affairs becomes impossible. There is a deep cancer at the heart of our modern democracies. Maybe Gerry Adams is once again acting on truths that others cannot or will not see.
You are a fast learner Chap!
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Why is Gerry Adams saying this? And let me say my opinion of him has plummeted since he allowed his brother access to children under cover of his relationship to him.