in-depth report in the Chronicle for Higher Education by Beth McMurtrie has finally nailed Boston College for its wholly irresponsible approach to the Belfast Project. Its criminal negligence, while concealed during the life of the project, has been exposed as present from the embryonic stages of the exercise.
Since the onset of the subpoenas, Boston College, rather than fully commit to the battle on behalf of its research, sought to shaft both its researchers and research participants, through lies, 'obvious and dangerous lies'.
Eagerly expressing the dishonest ethos of the College, BC spokesperson Jack Dunn has played a crooked hand from early on in the case, at all times trying to smear and marginalise the researchers in a corporate decision to protect the institution. That sleekit approach only works when you don’t get caught. Dunn lacked the requisite skill to evade the snare and has at last confirmed what critics of the college have charged all along: that BC was more interested in gutting the researchers rather than waging the political fight.
In Dunn’s own words:
Had our efforts gone to Congress in identifying supporters, to work with the State Department and the Department of Justice, we could have been more effective.
But our efforts were involved in legal matters and distancing ourselves from the reckless rhetoric of Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre.
Dunn, stung by the bad press the College took in The Chronicle, spoke to Brooke Gladstone of NPR’s On The Media. Never slow to leap before looking, Dunn confirmed he had been born with a silver foot in his mouth and engaged in what may ironically be described as reckless rhetoric of his own.
To some, like me, who have long charged that Dunn was a vicious smear artist, his contribution was music to our ears. I have always considered it important that anytime Dunn digs a hole for both himself and the College he should be given an ample supply of shovels. Having his inanities, inconsistencies, and mendacities on public record has helped damn the College’s self serving and increasingly false narrative.
During his interview, Dunn moved to smear me as a person who had a long criminal record. That I was an IRA political prisoner with the same record typology as Bobby Sands, Frank Hughes and the eight other hunger strikers who died in 1981 resisting the criminal label, seemed not to figure with Dunn. With no sense of irony whatsoever and a seemingly straight face, he had no problem citing another former IRA member (and therefore a criminal in Dunn’s eyes), Danny Morrison. Any passing consideration for Boston College's own court assertions that the College adequately represented myself and Moloney went out the window in Dunn's embrace of a blunt cudgel he could clumsily wield against me for his own nefarious end; if anything clearly demonstrates how unfairly and inadequately BC represented us, it is this unholy alliance between Bangers and Mush.
Dunn, in the same interview, also sought to cast aspersions on the quality of my research. With characteristic dishonesty, he falsely claimed that BC Professor Kevin O’Neill had in a 2002 memo accused my work of being very weak, and that O’Neill was stunned by the leading questions that I had asked, implying that the questions I had formulated were somehow a rhetorical strategy to ensnare Gerry Adams.
If indeed Kevin O’Neill had made such charges, Boston College stands indicted for allowing me to continue in the role as researcher for a further five years, and for publicly singing the praises of the research I had conducted a full eight years after O’Neill’s memo - which I had never been shown until this week. This is to say nothing of the implications for the affidavits sworn and filed on behalf of the Trustees of Boston College that describe the purpose of O'Neill's review as "confirming for us what we believed to be the value of this unique collection".
At no point did Kevin O’Neill in his 2002 memo state that my research was weak. What he did say was that ‘what is already collected forms the foundation of a significant historical archive.’
This impression, formed not long into the project, from a brief review of a couple of interview transcripts, was confirmed by Judge William Young. His assessment upon reading the complete Republican archive was,
“This was a bona fide academic exercise of considerable intellectual merit.Bearing in mind Judge Young is not someone regarded as friendly or sympathetic to my position.
[These materials] are of interest – valid academic interests. They’re of interest to the historian, sociologist, the student of religion, the student of youth movements, academics who are interested in insurgency and counterinsurgency, in terrorism and counterterrorism. They’re of interest to those who study the history of religions.”
The leading questions referred to by Dunn - supposedly meant to cause problem for Gerry Adams - are as follows:
Q: In my view it was very very naïve ...
Q: Is it true to say, as many writers and academics claim, that was one of the significant turning points ….[Falls Curfew]
Q: I think that what you are trying to do is argue…
Q: Even in the most functional terms, was it a sledgehammer to crack a nut?
Q: They seemed to be …incestuous….
Q: Most volunteers that stayed the course seemed to have that as an objective, I know I did...
Whatever view people might take of the type of questions, it is very clear that there is nothing in them that would lend weight to the malign interpretation attributed to them by Dunn.
If anything, I feel that I stand vindicated by the 2002 memo of Kevin O'Neill - and that the falsehoods of Jack Dunn lie vanquished in his corner.