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Boston College Tapes Documenting The Irish Troubles Subpoenaed

British troops clash with demonstrators in Belfast, Northern Ireland’s troubled capital city, May 1981. (AP)

British troops clash with demonstrators in Belfast, Northern Ireland’s troubled capital city, May 1981. (AP)

The era known as the Troubles in Northern Ireland was marked by extreme violence between Protestants and Catholics.

In 2001, two researchers at Boston College set out to document the stories of members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). They gathered an extraordinary level of detail on the men and women who took part in the violence in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. The researchers promised that the tapes would be sealed and not revealed until the members’ deaths.

Now, a decade later, the United Kingdom has subpoenaed the tapes from Boston College. The John J. Burns Library has been the repository for these tapes and other documentation dealing with the history of the IRA.

In 2001, when the Boston College tapes were recorded, Brendan Hughes was a commander in the IRA.

He died in 2006, meaning his interviews were no longer confidential. Fellow IRA member David Ervine died in 2007, and interviews conducted with both men became the basis for a book and documentary film both entitled “Voices from the Grave,” which details the activities of the IRA during the Troubles.

Radio Boston’s Anthony Brooks speaks with Liam Clarke, political reporter for the Belfast Telegraph in Northern Ireland.

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