Thursday, June 9, 2011

Boston College Resists Subpoena for Confidential Interview Records

Boston College filed a motion resisting a federal subpoena for confidential oral history interviews of paramilitary fighters for the Provisional Irish Republican Army. The motion was filed with the US Attorney's office.

The recordings were made of paramilitary fighters from both cultural traditions on a promise of confidentiality of each interview until the subject person interviewed became deceased.

Boston College argues the release could threaten the :

  • safety of those interviewed

  • safety of the two former paramilitary members who conducted the interviews

  • safety of other Boston College staffers

  • viability of other oral history projects

  • the ongoing peace process in Northern Ireland

The recordings are held in the Boston College library and were used in the efforts of the Center for Irish Programs. The site of the program at Boston College was chosen in March, approximately three months ago, to hold the archive of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning. A site in the United States was seen as a compromise given chosing a university in Belfast or Dublin would carry a potentially negative association for one or the other cultural traditions in Ireland. The records of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning were supposed to be sealed for thirty years.

The court order seeking the records is sealed so the public and Boston College do not know which British agency is requesting them.

While the concerns of Boston College are well expressed, a basis under the United States constitution for resisting the subpoena does not appear to be articulated in the description of the filed documents resisting the subpoena.

More About the Peace Process

Earlier Post on the Subpoena

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