The Belfast Project was an oral history project launched by Boston College to collect personal testimonies of people involved in paramilitary violence in the Troubles of Northern Ireland in the late 1960s and 1970s.
The oral history testimonies collected by the Belfast Project were highly sensitive and eventually were subpeoned by law enforcement authorities for use in prosecutions.
The resulting lawsuits unraveled the entire oral history project.
An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education asserts that “What is clear is that in Belfast the past lives on. The investigations into Jean McConville’s death and others who disappeared during the Troubles are mired in political infighting. Giant murals celebrating the martyrdom of fighters on both sides are daily reminders to passing shoppers of what was sacrificed. The so-called peace walls, a series of metal, concrete, and barbed-wire barriers erected during the Troubles to provide buffers between Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods, have never been taken down.”
“Truth isn’t used here for reconciliation,” according to Anthony McIntyre, a former IRA member who conducted the oral history interviews for the Belfast Project. “Truth is used here for recrimination. It’s about poking your enemy in the eye.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the Belfast Project.
Update: Testimony from the Belfast Project now appears to have been used as part of the basis for the arrest of Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Féin.
The BBC reports on the arrest of Gerry Adams and his interrogation by Antrim police. The BBC also provides background on Sinn Féin and the McConville case. Another BBC story deals with the Belfast Project and the Boston Tapes of testimony taken during that oral history project.
New Update: Gerry Adams has been released after questioning by Antrim police. Adams claims that the Belfast Project interviews were used against him.
Boston College is now attempting to dismantle its collection of oral history recordings. The New York Times reports on the Boston Tapes.