Irish Republican News · February 14, 2015
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
More legal drama as PSNI collect Boston tapes


The latest development in a notorious ‘oral history’ project operated by a Boston university has seen British forces granted the right to seize, but not open, sealed tapes of interviews given by a former unionist paramilitary prisoner.

On Monday, loyalist Winston ‘Winkie’ Rea lost a court bid to stop the PSNI police accessing interviews with him -- but as PSNI members flew to Boston to collect the tapes, an emergency restraining order was granted.

In the latest development this week, PSNI detectives in Boston were allowed to collect the tapes that Rea is battling to stop them from inspecting, but ordered not to open the recordings, and instead hand them over to the US Consulate in Belfast.

It is understood the three judges argued that the tapes would therefore remain under US jurisdiction until a final decision is rendered next week.

‘Winkie’ Rea is one of a number of former loyalist paramilitaries interviewed alongside republican former PoWs by Boston College about the conflict in the north of Ireland. However, in 2013 the institution controversially abandoned a commitment that the contents would remain confidential. The privacy guarantees collapsed when British investigators brought a subpoena to gather evidence against republicans who they believed had made prosecutable admissions regarding the past conflict.

Among those targeted in the operation are a number of so-called ‘dissident’ republicans who disagree with the North’s political process, as well as ‘mainstream’ republicans such as Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, who were allegedly named in connection with past IRA actions.

British Crown Prosecutors have already secured the transcripts of controversial interviews alleged to have been given by former IRA Volunteer Dolours Price, and is still seeking others.

But efforts by the PSNI to simply return the tapes for inspection in Belfast continue to be met by a range of legal challenges and counter-challenges.

Rea, a former loyalist prisoner, had sought a judicial review of the attempts to obtain his interviews. It was recently reported that among the killings the PSNI are investigating in relation to Rea’s interview is the 1999 murder of loyalist Frankie Curry. But Rea has argued that the PSNI and Crown Prosecutors are involved in nothing more than a “fishing exercise”.

Journalist Ed Moloney, who was centrally involved the Belfast project, denied Curry had ever even been discussed.

He said: “As the former director of the Boston College oral history project I am, like the interviewers, pledged never to reveal what interviewees said or spoke about in their interviews until the terms of their embargo have been fulfilled.

“But there is no bar on myself telling the world what is not in a person’s interview.

“Accordingly, I can say with the utmost confidence, that not only does Mr Rea not discuss the late Mr Curry’s death in any way but his name does not even figure in his interviews.”

We have a favour to ask

We want to keep our publication as available as we can, so we need to ask for your help. Irish Republican News takes time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe it makes a difference. If everyone who reads our website helps fund it, our future would be much more secure.

For as little as £1, you can support Irish Republican News – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

© 2015 Irish Republican News