Protect sources - support Ed and Anthony
BACK ON 6 July the United States First Circuit court of appeal in Boston, Massachusetts ruled that Boston College must hand confidential interviews over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). On 1 October United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer granted a temporary stay on the handover. The stay will stay in place until at least 11 October, when the US government, which facilitated the subpoenas, is due to formally respond to an application from Eamonn Dornan, JJ Cotter and Jonathan Albano, attorneys for Belfast Project researchers Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, that the handover be stayed until the Supreme Court decides whether to hold a full hearing on the case.
The interviews were carried out by Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre for the Belfast Project - on condition that they be sealed until the death of the interviewees. The PSNI seeks the interviews to further investigation of disappearances during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Not only does the July ruling challenge the confidentiality of sources. It affects the safety of the interviewers and surviving interviewees. And, beyond journalism, it casts serious doubt on future oral history projects and academic research more widely.
The Union's 2012 Delegate Meeting on 6 October passed a strong motion of support for Ed and Anthony and the principle that confidential sources must be protected.