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Appeals court hears secret IRA tapes case

BOSTON — Former Irish Republican Army members whose interviews were recorded for a Boston College oral history project face grave physical danger if the recordings are turned over to British authorities and used in prosecutions, a lawyer for a former IRA member who conducted the interviews argued Wednesday.

The arguments came during a hearing before the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is being asked to decide if the secret recordings should be given to police in Northern Ireland.

The recordings were made between 2001 and 2006 as part of an oral history project that participants say was supposed to be kept secret until their deaths. The project is intended to be a resource for journalists, scholars and historians studying the decades-long conflict in Northern Ireland.

But Northern Ireland police probing the IRA's 1972 killing of a Belfast woman want access to the interviews for their investigation.

U.S. District Judge William Young ruled that Boston College must turn over interviews with convicted car bomber Dolours Price. The college initially fought subpoenas issued by U.S. prosecutors for the recordings, but did not appeal Young's ruling on the Price recordings.

Anthony McIntyre, a former IRA member who conducted the interviews, and Ed Moloney, an Irish journalist who directed the project, filed a lawsuit challenging U.S. authorities' decision to subpoena the records.

In court Wednesday, the men's lawyer, Eamonn Dornan, said McIntyre and the other IRA members who participated in the project face "the real risk of physical harm" if the recordings are turned over.