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Irishwoman at center of IRA tapes fight found dead

 Dolours Price (left) became a critic of Gerry Adams and his shift toward political compromise.

Dolours Price (left) became a critic of Gerry Adams and his shift toward political compromise.

DUBLIN — An Irish Republican Army veteran who accused Sinn Fein party chief Gerry Adams of involvement in IRA killings and bombings was found dead in her home, police and politicians said Thursday.

Dolours Price, 61, was a member of the Provisional IRA unit that launched the very first car-bomb attacks on London in 1973. She became one of Irish republicanism’s most trenchant critics of Adams and his conversion to political compromise.

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Police said her death Wednesday night at her home in Malahide, north of Dublin, was possibly the result of a drug overdose and foul play was not suspected. But it could have implications as far away as the US Supreme Court.

In interviews Price repeatedly described Adams as her IRA commander in Catholic west Belfast in the early 1970s when the outlawed group was secretly abducting, executing, and burying more than a dozen suspected informers in unmarked graves. Adams rejects the charges.

Since 2011, Northern Ireland’s police have been fighting a legal battle with Boston College to secure audiotaped interviews with Price detailing her IRA career to see whether they contain evidence relating to unsolved crimes, particularly the 1972 kidnapping and murder of a Belfast widow, Jean McConville. Price allegedly admitted being the IRA member who drove McConville across the border to an execution squad.

Boston College commissioned the collection of such interviews with veterans of Northern Ireland’s paramilitary warfare on condition their contents be kept secret until each interviewee’s death.

In October, the Supreme Court blocked the handover of the Price tapes pending resolution of a string of other connected lawsuits and legal challenges in lower US courts. Her death could trigger a new wave of legal petitions on both sides.

An About-face

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Ed Moloney, the Irish journalist who oversaw collection of the taped testimonies, and Anthony McIntyre, the former IRA convict who actually conducted the interviews from 2001 to 2006, lauded Price as ‘‘both a friend and a valued participant in the Belfast Project.’’

They blamed the police’s pursuit of her testimony for hastening her death — and vowed that their own legal fight to prevent police from receiving any tapes from the Boston College archive would continue ‘‘with renewed vigor.’’

Price joined the IRA as a Belfast teenager, in part because her father, Albert, was a senior IRA figure. She led a 10-member IRA unit that planted four car bombs in central London on March 8, 1973, including outside the Old Bailey criminal courthouse and Scotland Yard police headquarters. Two detonated, wounding more than 200 people.

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