Marian Price: The Truth About New Book’s Allegation

Statement by Ed Moloney and Nuala Cunningham, producers of ‘I, Dolours’:

The American author Patrick Radden Keefe has made a major error in his new book on the IRA disappearance of Jean McConville. He claims that part of a transcript of an interview with Dolours Price which we allowed him to see was redacted because it named Marian Price, her sister, as one of the three people who took Jean McConville across the Border to her death. This is not true. The redaction contained no name at all, least of all that of Marian Price.

Mr Keefe failed to ask a couple of simple questions of Ed Moloney: ‘Was Marian Price named in the redaction?’ Or: ‘Was anyone named by Dolours Price as the third person?’ Instead he just seems to have assumed that she did name her sister. In fact, in her interviews with Ed Moloney, Dolours Price never named the third person.

Unlike Gerry Adams, who was named by Dolours Price in an interview, Marian Price has never been arrested or questioned by the PSNI about the disappearance of Jean McConville. Had she been named it is more than likely she would have been.

9 responses to “Marian Price: The Truth About New Book’s Allegation

  1. Was the redaction in relation to an element of the story that could have compromised someone?

    • It is a redaction. Now either something is redacted or it is not redacted. To reveal or refuse to reveal what the redaction might or might not contain, or to suggest why it was used, serves to undermine and dilute that redaction. In other words I must stay silent. That is in normal times. However what has been forced upon me is an obligation to respond to the claims of Patrick Radden Keefe that the redaction was used to remove Marian Price’s name. I can say without any fear of contradiction at all that he is wrong; the redaction was not employed to remove the name of Marian Price or anyone else. The redaction did not name anyone. Furthermore Marian Price’s name, while there in sections dealing with family history, the London bombs etc, does not feature in the section dealing with the McConville disappearance. I have come to believe that Patrick Keefe may have made a calculated guess, and then a claim, that the redaction removed Marian Price’s name but got it badly wrong. I suspect he did this because the claim of her involvement was a major selling point of the book, which bolstered publicity and therefore sales. The people who above all know what I say to be true are the PSNI who confiscated the interview from Boston. Irony of ironies!

  2. The claims Keefe are making seem to be stronger than this: He seems to be saying that Marian Price is *the* killer — not just one of the three who took McConville to her death, but the single person who raised the pistol and fired the fatal shot.

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/ireland/new-book-claims-to-reveal-mcconville-killer-dp3mbqldw

    That would be an extraordinarily dangerous thing to get wrong.

  3. Sorry, that Keefe *is* making.

  4. http://www.churchnewsireland.org/news/irish-uk-news/news-extra-unearthing-what-happened-to-jean-mcconville/

    “While Moloney redacted the name of the shooter from the interview transcript he gave me, the Police Service of Northern Ireland has the original unredacted transcript, which they obtained from Boston College. If Dolours Price implicated her own sister in the murder of Jean McConville, and the police in Belfast knew about it, wouldn’t they have charged Marian Price with the crime?

    “Not necessarily. Price also implicated Adams, and the oral history of Brendan Hughes, another dead IRA member, corroborated her account — yet Adams was never charged. It would appear that if a person implicates himself in the Belfast Project oral history, those utterances can be used against him in court, but if he implicates somebody else, it’s hearsay rather than admissible evidence.”

    He overlooks the obvious fact that people named in the tapes in connection with McConville’s killing were arrested and questioned by the PSNI. Adams was never charged, but he spent four days in PSNI custody being questioned. This isn’t true of Marian Price.

    Very curious.

  5. I am the author of SAY NOTHING. After four years of listening to Ed’s updates on his endless quarrels with everybody else, I suppose this is my reward. But a few quick points for people who are interested in my book and happen to have stumbled into this cozy rabbit hole.

    First and most important: In the book, I make the claim that Marian Price was the third member of the execution team that killed Jean McConville, and indeed, that it was Marian Price who fired the shot that killed her. Ed Moloney has long known the identity of this third individual, though he has chosen never to report it. In that light, his statement here is more significant for what it doesn’t say than for what it does: in a post promising “the truth” about my allegations, nowhere does Ed say that I have named the wrong person. Had I done so, he would of course speak up: it would be a grotesque thing, to accuse the wrong person of murder. But he makes no such correction. Thus, even as Ed quibbles with my reporting, his silence on the central allegation only reinforces it.

    On the specific question of redactions:

    1) Before Ed gave me the transcript of his 2010 interview with Dolours Price, he made several redactions. They clearly related to the identity of the third person involved in McConville’s death. I asked Ed about them on multiple occasions, and he confirmed that they related to the “identity” of that individual, and said that he had made them because this individual was still alive and he did not want to be a “felon setter.” (A strange standard for a journalist, and not one Ed has ever applied when it comes to Gerry Adams, but I digress.)

    2) If Ed did not redact the name, then why the redactions? What could he not allow me to see? After he told me last weekend that the original transcript does not contain the name, I wondered why he would have made any cuts at all. It didn’t make sense. Then, I asked him in an email if the unredacted transcript indicates the *gender* of that third individual. He wrote back and acknowledged that it does.

    3) There were a great many men on the front lines of the IRA in 1972, but if you knew the third person was a woman, the universe of suspects narrows. If you knew it was a woman who was working alongside Dolours Price as a member of the Unknowns, it becomes narrower still—so narrow that to reveal the gender would itself be a giveaway. There may be other identifying details Ed has left out: only he and the PSNI know that. But if Ed needed to make redactions to protect the identity of the third person before giving the transcript to me, it’s a bit disingenuous to imply that the unredacted version of that same transcript would furnish the PSNI with no clues as to the identity.

    4) As detailed in SAY NOTHING, my other reporting—entirely independent of this portion of the transcript—indicates that the person who shot Jean McConville was Marian Price. I spoke to someone who confirmed that Dolours Price told them directly that Marian took part in the killing. I did not make a “calculated guess,” as Ed suggests, and, as Ed surely knows, lawyers for HarperCollins and the Sunday Times would never have allowed me to publish such an incendiary allegation on the strength of a mere conjecture. Marian Price has now publicly denied any involvement in the McConville killing—though it is worth noting that she did not do so until a full five months after I initially approached her lawyer seeking comment.

    One reason that Ed may have been less than straightforward with me when I asked why he redacted the “identity,” is that if he had told me it wasn’t actually the name but the gender that he redacted, I would have worked out, instantly, that it was Marian. As would most anyone else who has studied this story. As, I must assume, would the PSNI. He took great care to protect the identity of that individual, but I worked it out using other sources. I have great respect for Ed Moloney’s work, as anyone who reads the portrait of him in my book will gather. But while I concede the narrow point here and must take Ed’s word for it that the un-redacted transcript does not contain the name, if what he redacted was the gender of that individual, then this is a distinction without much of a difference.

    • This is Patrick Keefe’s response to our critique of his claim that the redacted section of my interview with the late Dolours Price named Marian Price as the 3rd person to take Jean McConville to her death. She was neither named nor identified as such in my interview with Dolours Price. He is entitled to that response even though I would take issue with everything he says. Having said that, it ill behoves him to make a personal attack on myself. I have always thought that ad hominem attacks tend to diminish the perpetrator and their argument, no-one else. At the end of the day the selling point of his book was the claim to have learned the name of that 3rd person on the beach from our redaction.
      I suspect that in his eagerness to justify that, he then made a claim that he now admits was not warranted by the evidence. To shed light on this episode and to put matters into context I reproduce below the exchange of six emails between Patrick and myself about this matter on October 27th and 28th. By the way a personal pronoun is one of the following: I, you, he, she, it, we, they, me, him, her, us, and them . The reader can judge for themselves by the contents of the final email whether I have identified the gender of the redacted individual. I think what I am saying is the individual could be a he or a she or even an it. Finally the accusation of felon setting Gerry Adams. In the face of considerable evidence to the contrary Gerry Adams denies his IRA membership. That is a challenge to journalists to investigate his claim; it is not felon setting:

      On Oct 27, 2018, at 15:34, Patrick Keefe (email redacted)> wrote:

      Dear Ed,

      I hope you’re weathering the storm up in the country. I wasn’t able to get to Riverdale yesterday but I put a copy of the book in the mail and it should get to Liebig early next week.

      In the meantime, there’s one thing I want to alert you to. As you may have intuited, I worked out a while back that the third person was Marian. As I told you at Madison’s when we discussed the redaction in the DP transcript, the question of whether to publish the name would not pose as much of a dilemma for me. Once I figured it out, I did some additional reporting which took me from 90% sure to 100%. Tomorrow, the Sunday Times will publish an excerpt from the book, identifying Marian.

      Please be assured that I make it clear you redacted the identity in the transcript you gave me, and that when I pressed you about who that third person was, you refused to say. I can understand your concern about felon setting, though in my own calculus, it felt significant that the PSNI has for years been in possession of an un-redacted version of the transcript.

      My hunch is that you probably saw all of this coming – we seemed to talk around it on a couple of occasions. But I wanted to let you know, as there may be a bit of a commotion in the coming days.

      Thanks, Ed. For everything. As I said in the inscription of the copy that’s heading your way, I couldn’t have written the book without your openness and generosity, and I’ll forever be grateful.

      I fly to Dublin Monday night but am around until then if you want to talk: (phone number redacted). (And I”m back in NY on Friday.)

      All the best,

      P.

      On Oct 27, 2018, at 6:02 PM, Ed Moloney wrote:

      Hi Patrick
      I look forward to reading your book and I hope your trip goes well. But I am afraid you are wrong in what you say about the redacted portion of the transcript. The redacted portion of the DP transcript made no mention of any name nor was there any mention of a relationship with Dolours of any sort. I did not, as you write in your email to me, ‘redact the identity in the transcript’ that I gave you because there was no identity to redact. Dolours was scrupulous in her interviews not to name any living person who was directly involved in the final phase of the Jean McConville business other than herself. The PSNI has nothing in either transcript which identifies the 3rd person in the car and you could not have got any name from the section that was removed. This, I suggest, explains why no-one has been arrested on foot of the PSNI obtaining the interviews, least of all Dolours’ sister. And I shall make all this clear to anyone who asks.

      Best regards,
      Ed Moloney

      Sent from my iPad

      On Oct 27, 2018, at 18:43, Patrick (email redacted) wrote:

      Dear Ed,

      I’m confused—it seemed clear to me that there was a third person named in the transcript, hence the redaction. When we spoke about this, I asked who that person was. You said that you could not tell me because the person was still alive. I asked if the redaction had been present in the version of the transcript that was at BC (and which the PSNI subsequently subpoenaed). You told me that the version the PSNI had was un-redacted.

      Of course if I am mistaken you should make that clear and I will do the same. Even if the specific name is not in possession of the PSNI already, that would not change my decision in naming Marian. But I did not think there had been any ambiguity in our conversations on this point: I had thought it was clear we were speaking about the identity of the third individual. Of course I don’t know what I don’t know—what was actually in those passages marked “redacted”—but if it was not the identity of this person, or some obvious clue to that effect—I don’t know why you would have spoken about “felon setting” in your explanation for the redaction.

      Clearly I am missing something here. Let me know what.

      Thanks,

      P.

      Sent from my iPhone

      Patrick
      Clearly there was a third person involved, that is well known. I know who that person is and you assumed the redaction revealed that secret, specifically a name, which it did not. That assumption was incorrect. Nor did it reveal any family relationship with DP. Had you asked the necessary follow up questions that would have become clear to you. But you did not.
      You are correct in your memory of our exchange on this matter but incorrect in your interpretation. The redaction in the interview clearly dealt with the 3rd person but the assumption that it named or otherwise identified that person was completely wrong and was yours to make. It has been your assumption all along that the redaction identified the 3rd person when it did not.
      I am exercised by this issue because Dolours was so concerned not to say anything which revealed the identity of the sole living member of that group.
      It seems to me that a basic tenet of Irish republicanism and family tradition has escaped you, which is that someone like DP would shop her own sister on film/tape and betray a living comrade in a struggle whose basic beliefs, however mistaken, they still both believed in.
      I would not have revealed the identity of that 3rd party to you or anyone else and believe me when I say that any clue contained in that redaction was indirect to an extreme and that we took that action out of an overabundance of caution. But if you had asked me when we last met, which you did not, whether the redaction named or identified the 3rd person, I would have told you clearly that it did not. My memory is that you did not ask me that question.
      Believe me when I say two things: DP did not reveal who the 3rd person was in her recorded interviews with me, least of all that it was her sister. She did not want to name anyone involved in the final phase who was still alive and, honoring our interview, myself and Nuala in New Decade, resolved that we should do the same to the point of excising anything in the interview which might lean, however slightly, in that direction.
      My second point is that you cannot say that the redaction named or definitively identified the 3rd IRA person in the car which ferried Jean McConville. If it had, the PSNI would have moved long before this.
      I am sorry this has emerged at such a late stage. I like and admire you enormously and wish this had not happened. I also wish you the best of luck with the book.

      Best regards,
      Ed Moloney

      Sent from my iPad

      On Oct 28, 2018, at 07:35, Patrick (email redacted)> wrote:

      Dear Ed, one question, as I try to make sense of this: does the unredacted transcript give any indication of the gender of the third individual with JM at the grave?

      Sent from my iPhone

      Hi Patrick
      Let’s just say – and this is all I intend to say about the matter – is that it would be impossible to construct a sentence in this context without employing a personal pronoun.
      By the way there was another person at the grave, the local IRA man who dug the grave, and according to DP he turned out ultimately to be working for the Gardai……She didn’t know when he was recruited but if true, his debrief would make interesting reading.
      Have a good trip!

      Best regards,
      Ed Moloney

      Sent from my iPad

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