Irish tabloid faces questions over report on Boston College tapes family
- theguardian.com, Tuesday 27 May 2014 15.07 BST
An award-winning journalist behind the Boston College IRA archive has challenged an Irish tabloid to give assurances that its reporters did not obtain illegal intercepted private communications between an American citizen and the US embassy in Dublin.
Carrie Twomey, the partner of Anthony McIntyre, a former IRA prisoner and ex-chief researcher on the Boston College project, has claimed her phone calls and emails to US diplomatic staff in Dublin and Belfast were illegally intercepted. Twomey has reported her concerns to the Irish police force, the Garda Síochána.
A fortnight ago the Sunday World newspaper reported that Twomey had written to the embassy and the US consulate in Belfast seeking political asylum for herself, her children and her husband. She has denied reports that her family are seeking asylum and that she ever worked on the Boston College project.
Ed Moloney, the founder of the project, has also said Twomey played no role in gathering the material for Boston College, some of which is now in the hands of police in Belfast.
He told the Guardian on Tuesday: “Following a credible claim from Carrie Twomey, the wife of former Boston College researcher Anthony McIntyre, that her phone and email communications with diplomatic staff of the United States government have recently been subject to electronic interception, I call upon the management of the Sunday World newspaper to give a clear and unequivocal assurance that their journalists have gathered material only by honest, straightforward and open means, and that their intrusions into Carrie Twomey’s private life have not been the result of illegal activity.”
Moloney, author of A Secret History of the IRA, added: “I don’t think anyone is suggesting that Sunday World staff planted a bug or anything like that. But what I am asking is simply this: did the paper knowingly use the product of a bug placed by someone else, conversations that were illegally intercepted, to write a story? Don’t forget it was not just Carrie Twomey who was allegedly wiretapped here, but the government of the United States.”
The Sunday World declined to comment on Moloney’s challenge over how they had learned that Twomey was in contact with US diplomatic staff in Ireland.
Her husband recorded and collated the testimonies of dozens of former IRA activists, some of whom have claimed on tape that Gerry Adams ordered the death and secret disappearance of Jean McConville in 1972. The Sinn Féin president has always denied any involvement in the kidnapping, killing and covert burial of the widow, whom the IRA accused of being an informer for the British army.
Since Adams’s arrest last month in connection with the McConville murder, McIntyre and Moloney have faced sustained verbal attacks. Sinn Féin councillors and their supporters have labelled them “Boston College touts” – a euphemism for informers.
Twomey said she was certain her phone calls and emails had been subject to “illegal privacy violations” in recent weeks. She said a recent communication between her and the US embassy in Dublin had been compromised and its contents leaked to the Sunday World in Belfast.
“I haven’t a clue who precisely is carrying out the surveillance – it might be the NSA in the States, GCHQ in Britain or even the Provisional IRA’s spying department. But whoever is doing it – this is an offence in Irish law and I want the garda to take it seriously.”