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Forms to identify interview tapes 'lost'

Published 08/05/2014

Brendan Hughes




BOSTON College has 'lost' forms identifying some of those interviewed as part of its controversial 'Belfast Project', it has emerged.

Dozens of ex-paramilitaries spoke candidly about their involvement in the Troubles in taped interviews for the oral history project.

Some of the tapes were used by the PSNI to question Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams over the 1972 IRA murder of Jean McConville after being recovered in a court case from the Boston university.

Mr Adams was later released without charge.

Boston College indicated earlier this week that it would return the remaining tapes to interviewees following the police's successful legal challenge.

However, it has since emerged that forms crucial in revealing the identities of some those who took part have been lost.

Former paramilitaries took part in the Belfast Project under the assurance that their taped interviews would not be released until after their deaths.

They were anonymised by only being referred to in the recorded inter-views by a letter of the alphabet.

Their identities were only revealed in separate signed consent forms that were also said to have been stored in the US college archives.

It means some former paramilitaries could have difficulty in requesting the return of their interview tapes.

The anonymised tapes were referred to during court proceedings involving veteran republican Ivor Bell (77), of Ramoan Gardens in Andersonstown, who has been charged in connection with the murder of Jean McConville.

The west Belfast man, charged with aiding and abetting murder as well as membership of the IRA, allegedly took part in the Boston College project.

During a High Court bail application, the court heard that the prose-cution's case was that an interviewee referred to only as 'Z' on one of the Boston tapes was Bell.

Writer and journalist Ed Moloney, pictured top, who directed the Boston College project, claimed the identification forms had been lost due to the university's "incompetence".

However, Boston College last night claimed Mr Moloney "failed to provide the key" to allow it to properly identify the project's participants.

Former IRA prisoner Anthony McIntyre, pictured, who worked as a researcher for the project and himself recorded an interview, said identification forms for a handful of republican participants had been lost by the college.

He said he believed identification forms for three people out of 11 interviews recovered by police were among those lost.

"I have to say I wish they had lost everything - I wish they had lost the whole archive years ago," the 56-year-old said.

Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn said: "Although the project director, Ed Moloney, failed to provide the key, Boston College has other means of identifying the participants, including donation agreements signed by the interviewees and internal evidence available in the transcripts.

"We are willing to work with counsel for those interviewees who request the return of the materials."

Meanwhile, amid the controversy over the Boston tapes, the commission set up to help find the remains of the 'Disappeared' yesterday sought to reassure anyone giving information that it would be treated confidentially.

The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains (ICLVR) said any details given would never be shared with other agencies.

In a statement commissioners Sir Ken Bloomfield and Frank Murray said: "We feel it is important to make it absolutely clear that anyone who comes to the ICLVR with information relating to the location of the remains of those victims yet to be recovered can do so with complete confidence."