“I Did Not Interview People Because They Might Be Hostile To Gerry Adams” – Boston Researcher, Anthony McIntyre

Further to my statement answering allegations from Gerry Adams that the Boston College project was biased against the Sinn Fein president, lead IRA researcher Anthony McIntyre shed some fascinating light on his conduct of the interviews with RTE’s Marian Finucane on her radio show last Saturday.

Finucane asked him this question: “……not all of your interviewees were opposed to the peace process, isn’t that right?”

And he answered: “That’s correct. Not all of them were.

“Two at least were very strong supporters of Sinn Féin. Others were not hostile to Sinn Féin. I didn’t just interview people who…when this ultimately does come out I think society may be surprised about the nature of the people that I did interview.

“I did not interview people because they might be hostile to Gerry Adams.

“I interviewed people for their ability to enhance knowledge and to bring more knowledge of Republicanism into the public domain. And this on occasion meant that I had to interview people who might have had no connection with the IRA or the INLA but who may have had valuable knowledge and I thought that knowledge was essential to obtain.

“And would have no bearing whatsoever on Mr. Adams.”

McIntyre’s description of his work not only accords with Judge Young’s assessment that the project was “a bona fide academic exercise of considerable intellectual merit” but it also raises some important points about the nature of oral history when it deals with a subject like the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

History is invariably written by the winners and leaders. If there was a bias in this project it was to get the viewpoint of grassroots activists, not their leaders. By virtue of their position leaders invariably dominate the narrative in the wake of conflict situations, imposing an often self-serving version of the truth on everyone else

But no political leader has the right to demand that they and they alone should have control over what that history says. No political leader has the right to determine who should or should not be allowed to contribute to a project like this.

The primary objective of this project was to ensure that the people who fought the war, as opposed to those who directed it from safe houses, be allowed to tell that story. I suspect that is the real objection such leaders have to the Belfast Project. It is all about control and the fear of losing it.



6 responses to ““I Did Not Interview People Because They Might Be Hostile To Gerry Adams” – Boston Researcher, Anthony McIntyre

  1. re. “I Did Not Interview People Because They Might Be Hostile To Gerry Adams”

    Based on the facts as I read them – I think that is a fair statement. But this material was extremely controversial and as it turned out (irrespective of intent) used to assist in the detention of the leader of an Irish political party – and it is naïve to not accept that the party and its leader which has the most to lose by the project would not kick back at that project and seek to undermine it.

    I’m afraid this currently looks like an ill-advised project and I’m afraid I don’t think Ed and Ant can expect much sympathy if they themselves have been unfairly criticised as part of the fallout.

    It was a risk that (currently) doesn’t seem to have paid off for Ed and Ant – and a project that perhaps was/will be only feasible, when and if, there was no chance of prosecution – of Gerry or anyone else.

    Ant may well believe that Gerry is the wrong type of Republican – but may after all the unintended publicity in the run up to an election – have actually strengthened Gerry’s position.

    Having said all that clearly the balance sheet of winners and losers is still not fully drawn up and that is what is important for most people here – not the purity of thought or any lofty considerations of the merit of educational/historical research techniques.

    • like chou-en-lai said about the french revolution: it is too early to tell. an awful lot more to come out yet, so bide your time wee sammy! and i rather think you are listening/reading the SF spin a bit too much. that’s how they work, a machine that overwhelms the airwaves and dominates the narrative…..

      • it is also an exercise in intimidation which has been effective for a long time. the subliminal message is this: “see the shit we are throwing at moloney? that’s what we’ll do to you if you start digging too deeply into our affirs. do you want that to happen to you? now, any questions…..” unfortunately it works because the media is at heart cowardly….

  2. re. ” a machine that overwhelms the airwaves and dominates the narrative…..”

    I have to agree – that about an hour long party political broadcast by SF being disguised as a press conference at prime time on BBC 24 does look very suspicious – and the BBC clearly conspired with the PSNI to maximise the SF vote and perhaps that is real reason why the boy Patton had to go as head of the BBC Trust – fancy allowing an Irish political party set the agenda for the corporation.

    are there no limits to Gerry’s influence?

  3. While I agree with the general thrust of the statement above I have to say I haven’t seen much evidence of “cowardice” in the Irish media over the last week or the last thirty years in relation to Gerry Adams or Sinn Féin. The majority of the news media in Ireland is ideologically anti-Republican, the most obvious manifestation of which is the antipathy to SF. Short of publishing a “Gotcha!” style headline I don’t think there was much more the Irish press could do to show their hatred of Adams. Even the pretence of journalistic neutrality went out the window with Adams’ arrest. It was a free-for-all to see which journo could out-do the other in terms of genuine “felon setting”. One can have many problems with (Provisional) Sinn Féin but worries about a sycophantic or fear-driven lauding by the news media is not really one of them.

  4. and so fuc*ing what if someone did do a load of interviews with people not enamoured with gerry adams, would that not have merit as well. ie a historical account of views held by republicans opposed to a stormont trooper turned leinster housekeeper. id love to see the head on adams if someone did an archive portraying him as a heroic……erm non combatant… guerrilla leader…erm… non-member of ira. he would be calling it the greatest historical archive in the history of history. i genuinely hope he retires/resigns/gets the chop because his incessant pathological lying is deeply disturbing now.

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