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Irish Troubles researchers vow to go to US Supreme Court to protect BC interviews

Two researchers who were involved in interviewing former combatants in the Irish Troubles for a Boston College oral history project say they will ask the Supreme Court to rule that the interviews should not be turned over to the British government.

Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre announced their intentions after a decision Friday by the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston not to rehear — or have the full court hear — the case. A three-judge panel of the Appeals Court had previously rejected their appeal in July.

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“We wish to make it clear that we now intend to apply to the Supreme Court of the United States for a hearing on a case which we believe addresses issues of major constitutional importance,” the men said in a prepared statement.

On behalf of unidentified law enforcement officials in the United Kingdom, federal prosecutors have issued subpoenas seeking information related to a 1972 slaying in which the Irish Republican Army has admitted involvement.

The subpoenas were issued under a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the United States and Britain.

But the Belfast Project, the goal of which was to document the Troubles, a decades-long period of violence, promised both Irish republican and British loyalist former combatants that their statements would not be released until their deaths. The project began in 2001 and interviews were recorded between 2001 and 2006.

Moloney, director of the project, and McIntyre, a former IRA member, could be in danger if the interviews are released to the British government, the researchers’ lawyers have said. They have also argued that the release of the interviews would have a chilling effect on academic research in the future.

Jack Dunn, a Boston College spokesman, had no comment on the two men’s case, which they hope would block a subpoena for an interview with former IRA member Dolours Price.

Boston College, meanwhile, continues a separate legal battle over a second subpoena seeking other materials. The college will argue its case in the appeals court in Boston next Friday.

Christina DiIorio Sterling, a spokeswoman for the US attorney’s office, did not return a message seeking comment.

Martin Finucane can be reached at MFinucane@globe.com.
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