Following the death of Dolours Price, the Boston College IRA tapes issue now seems to be over. Dublin police have given her cause of death as a drug overdose. Notably, she is reported to have suffered from mental health issues for many years.
The government of Great Britain had been seeking tapes of interviews given at BC that it believes contain evidence linking Gerry Adams to the murder of Jean McConville in 1972. Adams was allegedly killed for being an IRA informer, and Price had accused him of being involved in multiple killings and bombings. BC commissioned interviews with various IRA members, given on the condition that their contents would not be released until the interviewees' deaths.
Price has described Adams in interviews as an IRA commander in 1970s Belfast when the group was carrying out mass abductions and murders of suspected informants. These are all charges that Adams rejects.
Northern Ireland has been in a legal battle with Boston College since 2011 over the rights to the Price interview tapes. They believe she gave evidence relating to McConville’s unsolved murder. Price allegedly admitted to driving McConville across the Irish border to an IRA executions squad.
Last October, the case reached the Supreme Court, who deemed that BC did not have to hand over the Price tapes despite whatever their contents might be.
Now that Price has died and cannot be placed under trial, any confession is largely irrelevant from a legal standpoint. It is currently unknown if Boston College will release her tapes now and reveal her implication of Adams, if it truly exists.
In a statement, BC expressed condolences for Price’s death but did not speculate on its legal implications or explain their intentions moving forward.
While serving a prison sentence for her involvement in an IRA bombing she was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. It is currently unknown if the legal battle for her testimony contributed to her mental state.
With Price deceased, she can no longer give testimony regarding her interviews, leaving the tapes largely irrelevant. The government of Great Britain has yet to say whether or not they will continue to seek to obtain them.
Incoming Secretary of State and BC alum John Kerry has expressed disapproval of Great Britain’s grab for them; now that he is on a large national stage, his words may have more sway. Of course, BC could now give them up willingly, but that could be unlikely.