You may remember a few blogs back I compared the appearance of Gerry Adams on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show with that of Mary Lou McDonald last Friday. I thought she did very well – even-tempered, calm, good-humoured. I don’t think she did as stunningly well as some other commentators say she did but it was certainly one of her better TV performances. But it wasn’t a performance that pleased everybody. Notably Ed Moloney, he of the famous Boston Tapes.
Ed says she “trotted out the hoary canard that the Boston College oral history archive had a political agenda when choosing who to interview or not interview for the project”. Ed rejects this, not surprisingly, and says (i) the claim is typical Sinn Féin, trying to intimidate other journalists who might probe Sinn Féin’s internal politics; and (ii) that Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price were major players in the republican struggle and it was fitting they were interviewed.
He may be right, but I haven’t noticed Mary Lou or any other Shinner’s comments deterring the media north and south of the border from sinking the boot into Sinn Féin when the opportunity arises. What’s noticeable is that Ed doesn’t try to suggest that any of those who were interviewed had a positive or even neutral attitude towards Sinn Féin; from which we can probably conclude that the suspicion most people have that the tapes are heavily or even completely tilted against Sinn Féin are well-founded.
Or maybe not. Maybe I’m doing Ed an injustice. But certainly his co-researcher, Anthony McIntyre, is implacably opposed to Sinn Féin, and so are the two people who we so far know were interviewed – Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price.
Ed lives in the United States and every so often he’ll fire off a salvo about something someone said or didn’t say over here. On one occasion years ago I wrote an article in which I was critical of Anthony McIntyre and some of the things he was saying at the time. To my surprise, I received an email not from Anthony but from Ed. It was a long, slightly rambling email, as I remember, but his central charge was that by writing what I had, I had placed Anthony McIntyre’s life in danger and if anything happened to Anthony, the responsibility would be on my head.
I immediately published his email and made the point that in my view he was talking tripe, that Anthony had never attempted to conceal his political thinking and that he had lived in West Belfast for some considerable time without being attacked for anything he said, and that he certainly wouldn’t be attacked for anything I said about him. And so it proved.
Ed finds himself in a difficult position now. It seems as though the anti-republican make-up of the tapes, or certainly those of Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes, have landed Ivor Bell in court. Others may follow. Whatever the rights and wrongs of such court cases, their potential for political upheaval here are considerable. So this morning I’m trying to resist the temptation to tell Ed that if things here fall apart politically, undoing all the good work that’s been done over the last twenty years, people might be inclined to point to him as a significant source for this descent into mayhem.