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McGuinness faces questioning over 10 murders in IRA tapes sensation

A US COURT could seriously hamper Martin McGuinness' presidential hopes if it rules to release confidential IRA tapes to the PSNI.

The court is set to rule on the Boston College tapes in the next few weeks. If the interviews from former IRA members are handed over to the PSNI it would be a massive blow to Sinn Fein, in particular TD Gerry Adams.

The move could see Adams officially questioned about the murder of mum of 10 Jean Mc-Conville and it would have a significant knock-on effect on the presidential campaign of his Sinn Fein colleague McGuinness.

US authorities acting on behalf of an unnamed body -- said to be the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) -- are demanding access to 26 of the interviews given to Boston College by former IRA members in the project. The project was undertaken by former IRA member turned journalist Anthony McIntyre, who carried out the tapings, and journalist Ed Moloney, who oversaw the project.

In total the tapes are said to include around 50 interviews with republican and loyalist paramilitaries gathered between 2001 and 2006, under the strict condition that they would not be released until the interviewees had passed away.



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Entitled the Belfast Project, journalists conducted the interviews from 2001 to 2006. Its goal was to interview members of the IRA, Sinn Fein and other organisations about their activities during the Troubles.

In what is being seen as a move to discredit Adams, US prosecutors first asked a judge to order that the college hand over interviews given by Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price, two former IRA members who had in the past accused Adams of running a secret IRA cell which conducted the kidnappings and disappearances of at least nine people during the early Seventies.

Adams famously denies ever being an IRA member.

A second set of subpoenas filed in August then sought access to the full set of 26 IRA interviews, looking for "any and all interviews containing information about the abduction and death of Mrs Jean McConville".

Mrs McConville was abducted, killed and buried on a beach in the Republic by the IRA in 1972, having been suspected of informing to British authorities. Her remains weren't uncovered until 2003.

Boston College is fighting the subpoena for the interviews, as are McIntyre and Moloney who claim that the tapes only became important to the PSNI once Adams was elected as a TD for Co Louth.

Boston College has opposed both sets of subpoenas on the grounds that the premature release of the tapes would threaten the safety of the participants, the enterprise of oral history and the ongoing peace process.

On the issue of the subpoenas, Judge Joseph Tauro is expected to either call for a further hearing or simply make a judgment on the matter in the coming weeks.

ccrawford@herald.ie