The Belfast Project

Friday, January 31, 2014


Begun in 2000, the Belfast Project was an oral history project that aimed to document combatants’ stories in the clashes between the Irish Republican Army and the Irish Loyalist Army in the 1970s through the 1990s. But the charged nature of what interviewees told the project has brought immense pressure on the project's organizers to release records of the interviews, which they'd promised to keep secret. Brooke talks with Anthony McIntyre who recorded many of the interviews for the project.


Anthony McIntyre

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [4]

Ed Moloney from new york

This is for pete. Anthony McIntyre gave those assurances on foot of assurances he received from Boston College. Below is a press statement that we released following the recent article in the chronicle of higher education which explains the background:

Statement from Ed Moloney, Anthony McIntyre & Wilson McArthur:

Following the disclosure in the current edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education that Boston College misled ourselves and the participants in the oral history project into believing that the donor contract or agreement for interviewees had been vetted by the college’s legal advisers when it had not been, we are consulting our attorneys about the legal implications.

During the preparation of the project in 2001, the putative project director, Ed Moloney wrote to Bob O’Neill, the Burns librarian at the college outlining the possible wording for the donor agreement but asking him to run it past the college’s lawyer. O’Neill replied in an email: “I am working on the wording of the contract to be signed by the interview[ee], and I’ll run this by Tom [Hachey] and university counsel.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported today that O’Neill has now admitted that he never did check with a lawyer and instead issued a contract to us that gave the interviewees complete control and ownership of the interviews until they died. Instead the contract should have warned participants that the interview could be seized by the authorities.

The article, quotes Dr O’Neill as saying: “In retrospect, that was my mistake.”

Mr Moloney commented: “We went ahead on the basis that we believed O’Neill had cleared the contract with lawyers and that it was safe for the participants to give interviews. Had we known the true position the project would have been stillborn.”

Feb. 03 2014 11:51 AM
Sandy Boyer from Brooklyn, NY

I was surprised that On the Media allowed Jack Dunne of Boston College to label Anthony McIntyre a criminal. The piece made it clear that McIntyre was imprisoned for IRA activities. Federal courts have repeatedly ruled that the IRA was engaged in a political conflict over who should rule Ireland and refused to extradite or deport members of the IRA.

I find it difficult to believe that On the Media would have permitted a former Palestinian prisoner to be labeled a criminal without at least offering a rebuttal. I believe that, at the very least, NPR owes McIntyre an opportunity to reply on air.

Feb. 02 2014 07:02 PM

Hi there Brooke and Bob,
interesting story. Could you please let me know what the musical interlude played on the harpsichord is at the end of this segment?

Feb. 02 2014 06:42 PM
Peter from Massachusetts

A question I didn't hear OTM ask McIntyre is, on what BASIS did he promise his interviewees secrecy? And why did they believe him? He had no authority or power to offer such secrecy, and the existence of mutual legal agreements between the US and UK of the type that were used to obtain these interviews from BC are well-known.

The first step to keep something secret is to not tell anyone. No matter how honorable or steadfast a reporter or researcher is, at the end of the day it may come down to that individual versus the power of the state or other formidable interests.

I love oral history but honestly I wouldn't contribute anything to an oral history project that I wouldn't be willing to say on facebook.

Feb. 02 2014 01:57 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.