Thursday, 29 May 2014

Bias, Bona Fides, & the Boston Tapes: An Interview with Anthony McIntyre

Anthony McIntyre

This is the transcript of an interview I conducted with Anthony McIntyre via email. McIntyre is a former IRA volunteer and ex-prisoner. He spent 18 years in Long Kesh, including 4 years on the blanket and no-wash/no-work protests against criminal status for republican prisoners. These protests eventually led to the 1981 Hunger Strike.

Following his release from prison in the early 1990s, McIntyre completed a PhD at Queens University and went on to become a journalist and academic. He was employed by Boston College as a researcher for its Belfast Project, an oral history archive of the Troubles. For this project, he was involved in the interviewing of 26 republican activists who gave accounts of their political activism and/or paramilitary activities during the conflict.

the arrest of Gerry Adams a month ago, the Belfast Project has become international news. There has been extensive media coverage of how the PSNI gained access to a number of interviews from the archive following a lengthy legal battle and, based on the content of these interviews, arrested Gerry Adams and several other individuals in connection with the murder of Jean McConville in 1972.

I plan to conduct further interviews with Anthony at some point about 
the legal battle that was waged to stop the PSNI from gaining access to the archive and the threats that have been made against him and his interviewees since some of the interviews were handed over to the PSNI by US authorities. However, this particular interview explores the specific criticisms of the project that have been made since Gerry Adams's arrest.

At this point, I should also declare a bias in this matter -- Anthony is a friend of mine. However, to paraphrase the late historian 
J. M. Roberts, all writers have a bias, and so we should simply declare our own particular bias at the beginning of our work and try to keep it in check thereafter.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

"Danny Says": The Mental Gymnastics of Danny Morrison

Danny Morrison is not a happy man right now. Indeed, he took huge umbrage at Ed Moloney’s defence in the Irish Times of Boston College’s Belfast Project. In his subsequent letter to the newspaper, Morrison complains that Moloney “repeats allegations about myself, Gerry Adams and the 1981 hunger strikes made by former prisoner Richard O’Rawe”, whom Morrison accuses of “rewriting history”. 

The real problem for Danny Morrison is not only that his own account of the 1981 Hunger Strike is full of holes – as
Richard O’Rawe’s devastating rebuttal shows – but also that his account keeps changing. Morrison now denies that he brought in a British offer to the hunger strikers in the H-Block prison hospital when he visited Long Kesh on 5 July 1981. This was not always his stated position though.