The National Union of Journalists has expressed grave disappointment at the decision of the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeal to order Boston College to hand over recordings of interviews conducted on the basis of confidentiality by NUJ freelance member Anthony McIntyre and former Sunday Tribune Northern Ireland editor Ed Moloney.
The ruling, issued on Friday, confirmed an earlier decision by district court judge William Young in relation to Dolours Price, who spoke to researchers on condition that the information would not be released in her lifetime.
NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said the ruling has “significant implications” for academic and journalistic research.
She said: “These interviews were recorded between 2001 and 2006 and each participant understood the recording would not be released prior to their death. We salute the stand taken by Ed Moloney, Belfast Project Director and Anthony McIntyre, who carried out the interviews in good faith. It is regrettable that Boston College did not support their legal challenge in relation to the Price interview. It is deeply disappointing that the challenge has failed. As a union we are concerned at the chilling effect which this ruling will have on academic and journalistic research but we are also concerned at the possible threat to the safety of Anthony McIntyre and Ed Moloney”.
Séamus Dooley, Irish Secretary, NUJ noted that Boston College is still appealing a previous order regarding another subpoena covering the Belfast oral history project. “This is not a happy augury for further appeals. There are real grounds for believing that this ruling poses a threat to the safety of those directly involved in the project. “