Martin Galvin (MG) interviews Anthony McIntyre (AM) via telephone from Drogheda, Co. Louth about the subpoena sent by the PSNI to obtain his personal contribution to the Belfast Project archived at Boston College. Thanks to TPQ transcriber.
Radio Free Eireann
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MG: With us on the line we have Anthony McIntyre. Anthony has been interviewed on this programme many times; we have him as an analyst. This week if you look at nuzhound, or you look at any of the Irish papers or even the Boston Globe and some of the other papers in the United States you would actually see that he is the subject, not an analyst – that the British government and Barra McGrory, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Minister of Justice there, David Ford, the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) – they are subpoenaing tapes that Anthony McIntyre did – there was an attempt to create some sort of history of the years of conflict, the most recent years of conflict, The Troubles in The North. A number of people, Republicans and Loyalists, were interviewed. Right now we study the history of what happened in 1916 or the 1920 War of Independence in Ireland - we have tapes, people gave interviews as an historic resource. Anthony McIntyre and others tried to create a similar archive, the Boston (Belfast) Project, and the British government is now subpoenaing those tapes to be used against him in some fashion.
Now Anthony, I should tell the audience: You were a former Republican prisoner. I believe you were sentenced to twenty-five years, did eighteen years in Long Kesh as a Republican political prisoner. You did conduct interviews and give interviews for the Boston project but presumably anything that you were questioned about would have dealt with, what you were involved with for which you did a sentence in Long Kesh couldn't be used against you. Why is the British government in a Boston federal court seeking to get your tapes or interviews and other materials that you compiled?
AM: Well that's an interesting question, Martin, that has baffled many people. It seemingly has convinced most that this is an outright fishing expedition by the British PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) and the British prosecutor in Ireland, Barra McGrory, and the British state.
MG: Now Anthony, you are in The South of Ireland; Drogheda is, of course, part of, within the Twenty-Six Counties. Why would they seek interviews that you gave or notes and materials that you gave? How could that be used in terms of any kind of prosecution in a Diplock court in The North of Ireland?
AM: Well Martin, very little would be required as evidence in a Diplock court. There used to be an old saying about English courts where Irish people were tried that the presumption was innocent until proven Irish. And in a Diplock court it would be very easy to present minimum, farcical evidence and then have it ruled as admissible and used to convict. So I wouldn't be surprised that the British would be able to use anything that would come their way and have their pliant judges, nod their heads and acquiesce in the demand and secure a verdict. The reason that verdicts have not been secured in other cases, contentious cases in The North, has been because of the outright incompetence and the transparent dishonesty of the PSNI in the presentations of their cases.
MG: Alright now Anthony, I just want to remind the audience: These tapes were prepared a number of years ago. When Brendan Hughes, great Republican, a leading Republican, passed away the understanding was that the tapes or the interviews that he gave could be made public at that time. They were made public – there were television programmes about them. Ed Moloney had done a book, Voices From the Grave and, as a result of that, Gerry Adams was questioned by the PSNI and there is a prosecution against another very well-known Republican, Ivor Bell, that presumably is connected to these tapes. Could you tell us, could this have any – these tapes - I know you can't say too much about what is in the material - but do you think that that is what the British are hoping - that they'll find something that can be used against other individuals like that?
AM: What I think is that the British are not looking for any evidential value in relation to Mr. Adams or Mr. Bell in the interviews that I gave to Boston College. What the British are calculating is that in order to access me they would find it difficult to subpoena me as a witness. And they could probably only have it if my testimony was taken down here if I was willing to speak with them which I am not. So what they are trying to do is rather than depict me as a witness they're trying to depict me as a suspect and then make an extradition request in the hope that the Dublin authorities would return me to The North whereby or whereupon the British then seek to question me about the contents of the tapes and apply as much pressure as they possibly could to find out what was in the tapes. And then on the basis of anything that I might reveal to them they would then use that to further raid the Boston College archive. Secondly, they are probably also hoping to have me confirm for them what has not been confirmed - that, for example, Mr. Ivor Bell is the so-called Interviewee 'Z'. Ivor Bell has never at any time said that I interviewed him. I have never at any time said that I interviewed Ivor Bell. I have never at any time said that Ivor Bell was Interviewee 'Z'. I will not be assisting the police in any way against Ivor Bell. I will not be assisting the police in any way in revealing anything that's in Boston College. Should, and I would underscore this point by saying, should the British come to me and say: Well, did you interview John Hume or David Trimble? I will not be co-operating with them. I will be remaining schtum. I will be saying nothing. So it's an exercise in futility – punitive and vindictive.
MG: Well, the British government seems to feel that if they got you into The North they could hold you without bail, put pressure on you to be a witness against others, that that might be a way to go forward.
AM: That's what they may well hope but it's a very futile strategy because it will be ultimately unproductive. I will say, as I have said many times before and even my critics will cede this point to me, that there are no circumstances under which I will cooperate with the British. I think that I would much prefer the gallows than to cooperate with the British against anyone who may have cooperated with the Boston College tapes, against anyone whom the British allege, even wrongly, was a participant in the Boston College project. I will not be assisting the British. Were the British to ask me did I question Margaret Thatcher and if I refused to answer they would be prepared to imprison me – they would have to imprison me because I will not cooperate. There are no circumstances under which I will cooperate.
MG: Alright, we're talking with Anthony McIntyre whose interviews and materials were subpoenaed – his interviews were left with Boston College - they've been now been subpoenaed by the PSNI - that's going to be heard in a federal district court in Boston. Anthony, one of the interesting points about this action: We very often hear that the British cannot move in various investigations, they can't, for example, hold an independent inquiry against Freddie Scappaticci, the informer, the British agent who worked for them, who is under investigation for as many as fifty murders – and that's before the investigation begins – there could be more. They can't afford that – it would cost too much money. There are numerous instances where documents cannot be found or given to families for inquests. Victims of British agents throughout The North – people who are in inquests or other proceedings who who want to get information, materials, about their family members being killed by British agents – it would cost too much. Theresa Villiers would say: The money is just not there.
How is it – there seems to be no object about money that comes from Boston College – they sent members of the PSNI over before, they've gotten legal representation – they're sending them over again. They don't even know what you may have said, if anything, or what notes you might have but money seems to be no object when you're talking you're about the Boston tapes. Why do you think that is?
AM: Because it displays what has often been called 'Perfidious Albion' and the British are at their aul lark. They are trying to rewrite the history of the conflict. They're saying the war is over yet they're still insisting on taking prisoners. They want the murder on an industrial scale, a term that was used by a prominent journalist in The North of Ireland that was carried out by the British state in Ireland, they do not want that investigated. They want to delay, defer, derail. They are determined on presenting an image of the past as one in which non-state actors, such as Loyalist combatants and Republican combatants, participated in a campaign of violence in which the British state were responsive to but were not responsible for and they are trying to project this image, this false image, onto an international screen. And it's very, very important that it's resisted. It's also very, very important that journalists and academics stand up and demand that they have the right, for the betterment of society, for the enhancement of public understanding, that they have the right to investigate the illegal. Because at the minute, the way things are going, it will soon reach a point where journalists and academics and researchers in general will be so effectively constrained in their ability to research illegal activity because if they do that type of research their results will be grabbed by the police that the only people investigating the illegal will be the police themselves and we know that is the route to a disaster and a totalitarian nightmare.
And journalists have to be prepared, researchers have to be prepared, to stand up and break the law in order to inform the public about what's going on. And I'm so disappointed with these pushover professors and at the academics who stand up for nothing other than academic careers and who will not stand up for academic freedom, who will not stand up for free inquiry and who will not stand up for informing the public - all these issues very much need confronting. We live in very dangerous times.
MG: Alright, we're talking to Anthony McIntyre whose notes and interviews, if they exist, were subpoenaed from Boston College. Anthony, one of the things in terms of 1916 or the War of Independence there are archives – there were interviews that were done – tape recordings that are now being released – there are different sources of materials from people who actually fought in the war. I just was very impressed – recently saw something that was being unearthed in which a commander, Thomas McDonagh, going to members of the Dublin Brigade and saying that: America is behind you. Don't worry about your families – they'll be looked after. How proud I was of that – I was able to relay that in a speech last week. Those things, that just have been accumulated - they're just coming out now. There was an agreement, the Fresh Start agreement, that they were going to try and retrieve historic information. It seems that the only place where there has been an effort to get Irish Republican Volunteers to say why the war was fought, why they stood and fought against British rule was the Boston project and now there's an effort to suppress that, to criminalise it – to criminalise and threaten with criminal prosecution anybody who engaged in that type of conduct, such as you did, simply by taking interviews.
AM: Well when this project started out, one of the motivations for Ed Moloney's interest in starting it was his knowledge of the Bureau of Military History which dealt with many of the issues that you have raised in respect of the War of Independence. And Ed rightly felt that there was a small window of opportunity whereby we would be able to access the type of interviews that we thought beneficial to future public understanding, conducive to truth recovery but there was a very small window of opportunity in which to do that and that window narrowed all the time with people's age profile, people who were in risk of sort of dying by natural causes so we decided that it was important to try and capture these type of testimonies. And it's interesting that Owen Paterson, before the British decided to do a volte-face in this, that Owen Paterson, the British Secretary of State for The North, a month before the Boston College raids were initialed by the British Police Service of Norther Ireland, Paterson actually stated that the Boston College template – the Boston College tapes should become a template for truth recovery before many people died off. They realised the value of it but then they decided to use it for very specific, self-serving strategic and political purposes.
And I think that you're absolutely right, it's essentially that the type of work carried out in the wake of the War of Independence needs to be carried out today because all we're going to end up with is a scenes-of-crimes perspective of a very violent political conflict to which there were participants such as the British state. It wasn't that the war was between the IRA and the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) – the British state were up to their neck in it. Now, if I could add one point: If Sir John, or Sir Jack Hermon, whatever his family prefer him to be called, had he carried out taped interviews for Boston College or had Kenneth Newman, the former Chief Constable of the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) who, like Jack Hermon, was a former Chief Constable, had they had carried out taped interviews at Boston College, you can rest assured that the PSNI would not, under any circumstances, issue subpoenas for those tapes even though they might reveal the torture record that went on at Castlereagh and Gough Barracks in 1977, 1978 and 1979. The type of activities that the British police seek to question me about may be itemised by them - and I don't know because they've told us nothing – as stuff that happened in the mid-'70's and about what they want, for some reason, to questions me, all the torture that went on throughout the 1970's has been hidden. The torture in Castlereagh was recorded by MI5. It's well documented in Cruel Britannia, a recent book on this matter by Ian Cobain, a very competent and capable Guardian journalist, and yet the police have not charged one RUC torturer. The police have not released the documentation in relation to all these tortures. And what I point to here is merely the tip of the iceberg, Martin.
MG: Well, what we should consider: Theresa Villiers, who always reminds me of Lady Macbeth walking around the hallways trying to rub the blood stains out of her hands, she continues to make speeches both in the United States and in Ireland – she is the British Secretary who presides over The North for David Cameron. She keeps saying that only ten percent of the casualties in the conflict were inflicted by British forces which completely absolves them from anything to do where they paid agents, like a Freddie Scappaticci, like Loyalists agents for whom they procured weapons, for whom they paid, for whom they gave intelligence, for whom they gave a clear passageway to conduct assassinations – anything like the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. There was a TV programme years ago by Yorkshire Television documenting how those bombers, in one of the largest atrocities in the conflict, they received – some of them were involved directly with British forces – how they got a bomb that they could not have - beyond the capacity of Loyalist paramilitaries to construct, or the timing was beyond the capacity of the Loyalists to deliver. They were able to name the people involved and yet the British government not only won't give information about that to the Irish government in the Twenty-Six Counties which they promised to do and just refused – hold back documents or hold back any evidence or prevent any interviews - but they continue to pretend with statistics – this ten percent - as if the British had no part in those people they paid as agents - they say that Captain Nairac was directly involved with them (according to Yorkshire Television) – a British SAS officer – they continue to deny that for any of the assassinations, any of the murders carried out by British forces and they pretend as if it doesn't exist. And people who might have been interviewed by you for Boston College or Republicans who might want to provide the truthfulness of those events - they'll try to criminalise that, they'll try to suppress the archives and that's what they seem to be doing with you in subpoenaing these records from Boston College.
AM: Well I mean Theresa Villiers is either a fool or a liar. And because we can be certain she's not a fool we have to assume she's a liar. And I mean we only need to remind ourselves of the inquest last week in England in relation to the ninety-six people killed, unlawfully killed, by the police during the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. The British police went to massive extents to try and cover up their involvement and to blame the victims and to write their culpability out of the narrative. Now that has been overturned and a similar process needs to be put in place here in overturning the Villiers narrative. Villiers continuously says that there's no such thing as the 'dirty war'. Villiers in saying there's no such thing as the dirty war can best be described as a dirty liar because from time immemorial … the Northern Irish journalist, Brian Rowan, has called the British state to account with his terminology in respect of the dirty war that indeed it was a very dirty war and the British were up to their neck in this dirty war. And I have commented before, Martin, on the book, Lost Lives, by David McKittrick and Brian Feeney and two other of their journalistic colleagues. And in that book they itemise all the killings that took place over the course of the conflict and they assign responsibility. Now in my estimation that book was a great piece of work but operated on very limited information. They authors did the best job they could in the circumstances and it was predicated on the information that was available to them. Now we have to say that that book is antiquated. It is no longer suitable – it's no longer fit for purpose. And I do not say that out of criticism of the authors – I say that as an observation on the information that is available. We now know that when we say the Provisional IRA or the UVF carried out an operation there is a very strong likelihood that the British state, through their agents, were involved in carrying out this operation. So it was an operation of joint enterprise. It's no longer good enough to blame the Provisional IRA or to blame the Official IRA or the UVF or the UDA (Ulster Defence Association). We very much need to put the British state at the heart of the culpability factor in respect of many operations carried out.
There's been accusations lately, although very few people seem to believe them, about the Shankill bombing and the role of the informer in that but other operations that Freddie Scappaticci was involved in and the collusion that we've have had our attention drawn to by a number of reports, the de Silva report …. Spotlight and Panorama programmes and the RTÉ broadcasts by people like Darragh McIntyre and John Ware – these people have drawn serious attention to the role of the British state and many operations and killings that we previously thought were exclusively the work of the IRA or the UVF, the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) or the UDA – the British were up to their neck and they're now desperate to hide this. And we think that one of the reasons behind the sabotage attempts, the raids on the Boston College archive, was to get stuff, get material, get documentation with which they could hold it over the heads of people like Gerry Adams and say: If you continue to push to hold the British state to account and demand transparency in terms of the murders the British state carried out we will embarrass you because you previously thought the only way that you would get these inquiries is through documented evidence and you thought the only people who had documented evidence was the British state. Now there's a bit a documented evidence, we say, in relation to yourselves and we are going to use it. And I think this explains much of what has been happening in the Boston College subpoena.
MG: Well Anthony, one of the things that contributed to the research of Lost Lives – not because of anything, as you say, by the researchers, but being slanted is that the IRA, for example, claimed responsibility for its actions, although even that might have been slanted by individuals like Freddie Scappaticci, but each week the IRA would claim responsibility, there would be articles in An Phoblacht/Republican News, they'd be reprinted the Irish People over here, there would be war news published and they took responsibility even, by and large with a few exceptions, admitting things that had gone wrong and claiming responsibility for them. It now appears the British government claimed responsibility for almost nothing, in fact, it went to great lengths to cover-up its role through agents in committing murders and assassinations and incidents like the Dublin-Monaghan bombings and continues to cover that up and prevent the truth from coming forward.
AM: You're absolutely right. Although I mean as you point there were rare occasions, and not just related Freddie Scappaticci, where the IRA denied involvement in activities that it was very much involved in - the killing of Joanne Mathers during the hunger strike of 1981, the young Derry census collector – she was killed by the IRA and the IRA denied responsibility. The Kingsmill Massacre, which was a war crime committed by the IRA on a par with Bloody Sunday, was denied by the IRA, so yes – you have that. But your fundamental point here is absolutely right: That the British are trying their best to write themselves out and to rely on admissions by the IRA for the operations that they were involved in - or the UVF or the UDA and the INLA – that these operations were carried out specifically and solely and exclusively by the groups who admitted them. We now know that to be a fundamental nonsense – that the British themselves have been up to their neck.
And I would like to point out, too, that in October, 2000, the IRA in West Belfast killed a member of the Real IRA by the name of Joseph O'Connor. Myself and Tommy Gorman went round and interviewed people in respect of that murder because people had come to us complaining that the Provisional IRA had carried it out. We put out a joint statement in the Irish News on the seventeenth of October, 2000 stating that the IRA were responsible and not once did the police come to us. Not once. Never asked us a question. Never put in a subpoena for our stuff. They were not remotely interested. The coroner in the case investigating the death of Joseph O'Connor condemned the police for not having arrested anyone. It is only after that inquest did the police even arrest somebody in response. So the police are not interested in the slightest in investigating murders, or past murders. The police are interested in politicking.
And I have to ask a question: I often wonder about what sought of leverage authorities have over Barra McGrory? Barra McGrory has behaved disgracefully in these matters. He has been pursuing Republicans. He has been holding up the old, failed and discredited British tactics of supergrass evidence and trying to defend those vile practices. He has been demanding longer sentences for people in prison that many believe are innocent. For example, the people convicted of killing the PSNI Constable back in, I think, 2009 - Stephen Carroll – there are two people charged...
MG: ...Right. The Craigavon Two.
AM: Yeah. The Craigavon Two: John Paul Wootten and Brendan McConville. And many people think they're innocent. Barra McGrory has been demanding increased sentences for those people. Now I am very deeply suspicious as to what leverage the British state has over Barra McGrory. Barra McGrory's father would be turning in his grave at the behaviour of this anti-justice advocate and campaigner – the way he is behaving like a lap dog for the British in pursuing everything towards their end.
MG: Alright, Anthony, we should mention: Barra McGrory is the DPP, Director of Public Prosecutions, which is the equivalent in the United States of a District Attorney. He is the one who decides on prosecutions. His father, PJ McGrory, was considered a great Nationalist defender - a civil rights attorney – handled many cases for Republicans in British courts, like Pat Finucane and others. PG McGrory was threatened actually, Pat Finucane of course was killed. PJ McGrory was one of the people who was threatened because of his advocacy and, as you say, his son seems to be going exactly the opposite. And even though there seems to be control from Nationalists on the Director of Public Prosecutions on the Minister of Justice, David Ford, and there's been devolution that doesn't seem to work to prevent them from trying to pursue the Boston tapes in any way – that doesn't seem to get justice for you or for anybody from the injustice.
AM: It's not merely about the Boston tapes, Martin. It's about the whole ethos that shapes the office of Barra McGrory. The British state has leverage over Barra McGrory...
MG: ...Anthony, I'm sorry, my producer is telling me we're coming to the end. I just want to make sure – the tapes are going to be in federal district court this week. The application, Boston College, I believe, has made a Motion to Quash – not to give over the tapes. What day will that be heard?
AM: Well it will be heard on Friday, six days from now, Martin. And indeed Boston College have stated that they will move a Motion to Quash but they'll also have to move a Motion of Appeal and not just go through the optics at the moment. But I mean Boston College, in this respect, have to at least be praised for taking up the issue and refusing to just go in and bend the knee and hand everything over willy nilly. Let's hope they have a fight and not a sham fight. Let's hope they have a robust fight. Martin, thank you very much for having me on.
MG: Alright. Thank you. We've been talking with Anthony McIntyre. If you want to see one of the best resources on issues in the North of Ireland it's The Pensive Quill which Anthony - it's a blog that he edits, sometimes contributes – he accepts articles from other people. They very often use interviews that are given; they transcribe them from this programme, from Radio Free Éireann.
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