BC Researchers Argue Ask Court to Block IRA Tape Release

By Robyn Hagan Cain on September 07, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Boston College researchers are still fighting to withhold oral history interviews from foreign authorities.

Back in January, the First Circuit Court of Appeals blocked an order from a lower court judge requiring Boston College to turn over documents pertaining to a former member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army to the United Kingdom. In July, the court ruled that Boston College to hand the recordings over to British authorities, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Friday, a Boston College lawyer appeared before the First Circuit again to argue that the school should not be ordered to give police in Northern Ireland recordings of interviews with former IRA members, reports The Associated Press.

Based on a treaty with the United States that requires both countries to furnish materials that would aid in criminal inquiries, the United Kingdom had originally subpoenaed the college for the recordings of interviews that former IRA member Dolours Price gave to a Boston College oral history project. British authorities wanted the documents as evidence in their investigations of crimes during the sectarian fight for control of Northern Ireland, but Boston College's attorney argued that the interviews were supposed to be kept secret until the subject's death.

U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young ordered Boston College to turn over the documents. Though U.S. officials received the documents on Dec. 30, the First Circuit's order to stay parts of Young's decision put a temporary hold on the federal action to submit the documents to British authorities. Citing the Supreme Court's Branzburg v. Hayes decision, the First Circuit changed tack and ordered the school to release the recording in July.

This case seems pretty clear cut under Branzburg. Do you think the First Circuit Court of Appeals will have a change of heart with rehearing, or is Boston College just wasting the court's time?

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