In order to assist accurate reporting of the latest developments I have prepared this short summary of the genesis of the UVF’s involvement in the Boston College project.
The origins of the UVF oral history archive at Boston College are as follows:
A meeting was held at the Europa Hotel in Belfast in the early summer/late spring of 2003 between Dr Robert O’Neill, the Burns Librarian at Boston College and two people authorised to speak on behalf of the UVF to discuss the organisation’s possible participation in the project.
The project director, Ed Moloney was not present at the meeting and learned about it only afterwards, and needless to say Dr McIntyre was not involved in any way.
Of paramount concern to the Loyalists was the confidentiality and security of the interviews, should the group agree to participate. In particular they asked O’Neill would the interviews be safe from the police in Northern Ireland?
In return Dr O’Neill gave the Loyalists what one of the pair later described as “an ironclad” guarantee of confidentiality and safety. On the basis of that assurance given by a senior academic from a college they believed to be trustworthy, the UVF agreed to participate.
It is now evident that they were misled by Boston College, grievously so.
It was always intended to make the archive as wide-ranging as possible and to include, provided terms could be agreed, Loyalist activists and the police as well as Republicans. The UVF was approached by Mr Moloney and agreed to discuss the matter with Boston College. Subsequently the meeting with Dr O’Neill took place.
The RUC was also approached and agreed to participate on the same terms as everyone else, including those covering confidentiality. Again these negotiations took place directly between Boston College and the police, initially at a weekend conference at Gleneagles golf resort in Scotland.
And again neither Mr Moloney nor Dr McIntyre were involved in these discussions but the RUC representatives were satisfied enough to agree to participate.
RUC involvement in the Boston Project commenced in June 2003, around the same time as the UVF interviews began.