Humor Magazine

In Which Irish Killers Meet Irish-American Academics and They All End up in an Irish Bog

By Davidduff

A fascinating if somewhat tangled tale is told at the Chronicle for Higher Education by Beth McMurtrie.  It all began as an honourable effort to garner an oral history of 'the Troubles' from the participants themselves.  Thus, a local Ulster 'hack' met with various dignitaries who were in charge of Irish history departments at Boston College - not to be confused with Boston University.  He offered them the services of a former IRA killer called Anthony MacIntyre who had served nearly 17 years for murdering a Protestant paramilitary.  MacIntyre was well connected inside IRA circles.  He agreed to conduct private and secret interviews with former IRA activists in order to build up an oral history of the times.  For obvious reasons, the terms and conditions of these interviews and the ultra-secure handling of the tapes and files had to be agreed by all concerned.  However, with the blithe dimwittery that you expect to find amongst most academics, these conditions were not legally tight.

Amongst the wholesale slaughter planned and executed by the IRA it is difficult to pick out one that was worst than the others but in Ulster eyes the murder in 1972 of Jean McConville, a mother of ten children, has a rank smell to it, not least because she was abducted at gunpoint in front of two of her children and was never seen again until her body was discovered by accident in 2003 buried at a beach, evidently she had been shot in the back of her head.  The IRA accused her of passing information to the British security services, an accusation absolutely rebutted by the Police Commissioner of Northern Ireland in 2006 following an investigation.  The plot thickens, or sickens, when a female IRA operative, Delours Price, confessed that she had been party to the murder and that the orders for it had come from that, er, 'distinguished' member of the Irish parliament, Mr. Gerry Adams

Meanwhile, the various parties to the collection of oral history had fallen out because the hack concerned, with the connivance of two of the College administrators,   published a book on the subject.  It was not so much that he released detailed information on the McConville murder, or any other atrocity, but the fact that this information was being held under lock and key by the Boston College was enough to provoke the Ulster 'plod' into requesting the American authorities to release all evidence on the McConville case which was still an on-going investigation.  Eventually last May, given that there is a mutual agreement between the USA and the UK on passing each other evidence of criminality, eleven tapes were delivered to the Northern Ireland police.  So far nothing has happened but if I were Gerry Adams, "which thank the Lord I'm not, sir", I would be a tad wary of setting foot back in the north!

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