On reading Anthony McIntyre’s interview in today’s Irish News, I was tempted to write a lengthy response. Upon reflection I think it is sufficient to make just a couple of points.
The first is to refer my readers to a detailed account of the background to the interview I conducted with Dolours Price in Dublin nearly a decade ago. The backstory is published on the website associated with the documentary film, ‘I, Dolours’ and readers can access it here.
The second point is this. The interview with Dolours Price was devised and conducted in an effort to prevent her from taking her story in an indiscriminate way to the media with incalculable consequences for herself and her family. She was seemingly determined to make her story known but in an uncontrolled way, as she had already done with the Irish News.
I personally felt a degree of responsibility for her welfare. She had been a confidential source for my book, ‘A Secret History of the IRA’ and she had agreed to give interviews for the Boston College archive. I have always believed that journalists have an almost sacred duty to stand by their sources, no matter what.
The terms of the interview were simple and straightforward. Dolours would give her interview, the original film would be stored away in Ireland and when she died her story could then be told. I told her that if she predeceased me then I would do my best to tell her story in a truthful and accurate way. If I died first it would be left to others to complete the task.
The details of this arrangement were agreed not just between myself and Dolours Price but were agreed by Anthony McIntyre and his partner, Carrie Twomey. A measure of how fully involved they were in the detail of the agreement can be seen in the arrangements made for the interview.
Our production company put up Dolours Price and Carrie Twomey in an hotel in Dublin on the night before the interview. The purpose of that arrangement was to ensure that Dolours was in a fit state for the interview. There had been suggestions that this was not the case when she was interviewed by the Irish News.
The interview took place on the Sunday after her Irish News interview appeared. I picked the two women up from the hotel and brought them to the apartment where the interview took place. Carrie Twomey sat through the entire interview.
Both she and Anthony McIntyre were fully aware of the arrangements and specifically that the interview could be made public after Dolours’ death. They knew and approved the deal and never once raised any objection – until the time came to make her interview into a film.
I know Mackers to be an honest and rigorous person but he seems to be saying that I should have reneged on the deal with Dolours and let her interview rot away in whatever hiding place the original film had been placed.
Would I then not have been party to a lie, a trick designed to disappear her story every bit as completely as the unfortunate Joe Lynskey whose remains still defy the searchers? And that would have been okay with him? Really?
I was shocked and disappointed to note also that Mackers has seemingly dropped a more swingeing criticism of the Irish News that we both made at the time. This was that the PSNI had opened their investigation into the Boston archive on foot of an article in the Sunday Life carrying detail of Dolours Price’s involvement in IRA disappearances that appeared three days after her Irish News’ interview.
We both suspected that the uncensored version of her Irish News interview had been handed over to the Sunday Life by a journalist frustrated that the story had not appeared under her byline in her own paper. The Sunday Life story claimed its source as Dolours Price’s interviews with ‘Boston University’. It was nonsense but it was enough for the PSNI.
That no longer seems to matter to Mackers. Which is a pity.