Alt Amháin - Single Article


airgead  glas  oráiste  corcra  buí  liath

Please email your comments to:

All fair comments, criticisms and praise will be posted!

Pól Ó Lorcáin
Paul Larkin

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place.
Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge, Chapter The Ninth

Lord Paul Bew should not be allowed to vanish from the record of the Boston tapes fiasco

Will the chairperson of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Lord Paul Bew, now apply his own ethics charter to the flawed and inflammatory oral history project he instigated?

Lord Paul Bew - created the discredited oral history project.

The instigator of the discredited Boston oral history, Lord Paul Bew who became a peer in 2007, is the chairperson of the UK’s “Committee on Standards in Public Life”. This high profile committee advises both the British Government, and public figures generally, on ethical issues they need to be aware of whilst carrying out their duties. The Committee bases its principles on a code of ethics – the Nolan Principles – which the UK parliament has adopted as a basic ethical guide for MPs and Peers. Lord Bew was appointed by David Cameron in July 2013 after an open competition and he took up the post in September of that year. Lord Bew, in other words, operates at the heart of the Cameron administration. The BBC reported that Bew would earn £500.00 per day as part of the remuneration for this post and that he will continue to teach Irish History and Politics as a professor at Queen's University Belfast.

After the Boston College tapes fiasco, which he instigated and which led directly to the, some would say dubious, arrest of Gerry Adams, Lord Bew seems to have an ethical problem of his own making. Given the high-wire implications the Boston Tapes debacle has for the Irish Peace Process, the Fourth Estate must not allow Paul Bew and the Cameron administration to ignore his role to death. Lord Bew is a key player in the whole affair.
Amongst other things, the Nolan Principles, which Lord Bew is supposed to uphold, exhort public figures to be objective in carrying out public business or when awarding contracts. According to Boston College, and the author Ed Moloney, it was Lord Bew who in the year 2000 whilst a visiting scholar at Boston College not only proposed the Belfast oral history project but also selected journalist Ed Moloney and researcher Anthony McIntyre to run, research and carry out the interviews for the project - with McIntyre conducting the taped interviews with former IRA activists. Was this an objective choice by Lord Bew for such a powder keg project? For many years Moloney has been a fierce critic of Gerry Adams and mainstream Irish republicans see his 2002 book on the IRA as little more than an extended attack on Adams. Anthony McIntyre meanwhile was Lord Bew’s PHD student at Queens where he wrote a doctorate describing the peace process as a British containment strategy. The title of McIntyre’s thesis was Modern Irish Republicanism—the Product Of British Strategy. In street parlance, Lord Bew knew exactly where Moloney and McIntyre were coming from.

It’s difficult to see how Lord Bew could have envisaged an objective approach by selecting Moloney and McIntyre for an academic exercise which had the potential to derail the peace process if not handled properly. Moreover, there is strong evidence that now suggests not only that Anthony McIntyre prompted and “led” his interviewees but also that Lord Bew may have been aware of this.
In 2002, a senior academic at Boston College - Kevin O’Neill co-founder of Boston College's Irish Studies programme - raised loud alarm bells about the poor quality and bias displayed by McIntyre during the interviews of IRA activists. Kevin O’Neill also questioned the way the project as a whole had been setup. Moreover, whilst acknowledging the potential of the raw material contained in the interviews, O’Neill warned that they were unusable as academic records because of the partiality and in particular the leading nature of the questions being asked. The situation was so bad, he said that the whole project was corrupted:

‘Such leading of subjects would be thrown out in a court; they are equally damaging in the collection of oral history. They leave the future reader unsure whether he/she is looking at attitudes and linguistic formations of the subjects, or of the interviewer. As there is only one interviewer this provides the possibility of a large scale “corruption” of this “data”.’

O’Neill also questioned the absence of “mainstream” (i.e. pro Gerry Adams) activists from the interview list of IRA activists. The logic of O’Neill’s point here is to ask why Gerry Adams himself was not interviewed. The whole of O’Neill’s 2002 whistle blowing memo is available to view by anyone here:

It was these taped interviews with former IRA figures, almost all of whom were hostile to the peace process in general and Gerry Adams in particular, that directly led to the arrest of Gerry Adams recently. Anthony McIntyre himself was also one of the interviewees. How strange then that the PSNI never spoke to Kevin O’Neill who in 2002 declared the tapes inadmissible as any sort of legal evidence because of the flaws in their compilation. Just as importantly, according to both Boston College and Ed Moloney in his book Voices from the Grave, Paul Bew also carried out an assessment of the initial interviews. The book’s preface was written by Boston College officials Professor Tom Hachey (head of Irish Studies) and Dr Bob O'Neill (head of the Burns Library at BC):

'Paul Bew, politics professor and senior political adviser to a Northern Ireland first minister, together with two historians who remain anonymous, assisted in an assessment of the information contained in the recorded interviews.’ (Voices From The Grave, Faber and Faber, 2010, p.1.)

If it is true that Lord Bew assessed the standard and value of the tapes, he must explain why he didn't see the same problems of bias in his assessment that so alarmed Kevin O’Neill and has now led to Boston College disowning the whole project. Specifically, and given the repercussions of his decisions and actions, Lord Bew must account for his choice of Moloney and McIntyre to run this failed and discredited history project.

In fact, Lord Bew himself provides evidence that he was aware of Ed Moloney’s animus towards Gerry Adams when he wrote a glowing review of Ed Moloney’s 2002 book on the IRA for the Daily Telegraph. In this review, Lord Bew describes Gerry Adams as smelling like ‘rotten cabbage” and admits that the cast list in Moloney's book holds a bias against Gerry Adams.

"Mr Moloney relies heavily on a range of interviews with republican activists, many of whom, it will be said, have an axe to grind against the leader who brilliantly manipulated them to the point where the IRA campaign ended without achieving its stated objective of British withdrawal from Ireland."

What Lord Bew doesn’t say in this 2002 review and has never, as far as I’m aware, said publicly anywhere else, is that the some of the key interviewees in Moloney’s anti Adams book are the same IRA activists who are key contributors to the discredited oral history project that Bew instigated.

There can be no doubt that Lord Bew directly links Moloney’s book to an anti Gerry Adams sentiment because the title of the review is the following – “At last we know the human cost of Gerry Adams.”
Bew’s attack on Adams can be read here:

Another Nolan principle Lord Bew is meant to uphold is transparency, or what two Nolan principles describe as "accountability" and "openness" - holders of public office must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office and should give reasons for their decisions. Why did Lord Bew not make clear in his review of Moloney’s book for the Telegraph that he had a central role in Moloney’s overall project? Moreover, As far as I am aware, Lord Bew has given no detailed explanation to the public regarding this project, which has been academically traduced. Quite apart from the fact that the College as a whole has disowned the project, Peter Weiler who is Professor Emeritus and was chair of Boston College’s history department until 2003, told the Irish Independent the project had ‘tarnished the reputation’ of the History Department because of its inherent bias and lack of impartiality.

‘The project didn't observe normal academic procedures into projects of oral history. Questions asked were often very leading, and there was no attempt at balance,’ he said.

Source Irish Independent 07/05/2014 see

It is particularly important in the context of the Irish peace process that Lord Bew is careful regarding allegations of having initiated a back-door campaign against Gerry Adams. He was after all an adviser to David Trimble and the Unionist Party during the peace negotiations that led up to the St Andrew's agreement in 2006. Perhaps more importantly, Bew was for a long time, an influential member of the Official Republican Movement - the sworn enemy of Sinn Féin. The Official Republican Movement morphed into the so called Workers Party. In June 1991, I made a film for the BBC which not only revealed that the Workers Party still had an armed wing, but also raised a widespread allegation regarding this party's links to British Intelligence. Or as the widely respected political commentator Brian Feeney put it in the film, the Workers Party was part of a "pseudo gang" run by Britain's Secret Services. Has Lord Bew maintained those alleged links with British Intelligence? One presumes his role as Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life was cleared by the Security Service – MI5.

All the above questions will remain in the air until Lord Bew moves to clarify the situation. In accordance with his role as a guardian of public ethics, Lord Bew is now duty bound to provide an explanation of his role in the Boston tapes fiasco. A role that Ed Moloney described as “crucial”.

@Paul Larkin
Mí Bealtaine 2014

The seven Nolan principles Lord Bew is meant to protect and uphold

Selflessness – Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other benefits for themselves, their family or their friends.
Integrity – Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.
Objectivity – In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
Accountability – Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
Openness – Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.
Honesty – Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
Leadership – Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.
No comments yet:


Comments must be approved before being published.

Meta Information:

Title: Lord Paul Bew should not be allowed to vanish from the record of the Boston tapes fiasco
Date posted: 10 May '14 - 16:26
Filed under: General
Next entry:  » Lord Paul Bew tries in vain to whitewash his Boston tapes and "Sticky" past
Previous entry:  « <b>Revealed - the academic who in 2002 rang alarm bells over the Boston tapes - he was never contacted by the PSNI or any legal body </b>

Baile - Home