|Sunday Sequence's William Crawley|
If BBC Radio Ulster/Raidio Uladh's Sunday Sequence gets any better, it'll be a must-listen and half the church-going population will arrive late. This morning it had David Vance and Finola Meredith on, talking about those recent images of American soldiers urinating on dead Taliban. To say they differed would be to put it mildly. Finola thought that urinating on dead bodies was disgusting, inhuman and totally defenceless conduct, which struck me as a fair description. David thought that...well I found it hard to tell what David thought. He talked about how bad the Taliban were and how he had a website called 'A Tangled Web' that didn't have racist stuff by him on it, and how putting those images on Youtube or wherever was inhuman, or was it terrible, or maybe deserving of punishment, but the urinating itself...No I'll stop, I'm afraid I'm an unreliable witness. I kept having this red mist at the notion that someone was whataboutering around this ghastly act. Finola Meredith, from what I've seen of her, is not a woman who loses her temper easily, but she came near to it this morning with Vance.
And then, as if that wasn't enough, the programme produced Anthony McIntyre and Danny Morrison talking about the Boston tapes - those recorded interviews with a selection of participants, loyalist and republican, where they talk about who did what in the Troubles. The people used were given an assurance that what they said would not be made public until after their death; unfortunately, this was an assurance no-one could give, as Boston College apparently knew and Anthony McIntyre and his colleague Ed Moloney should have known. Now it's looking as though the tapes may pass to the PSNI ; what was to remain confidential will no longer be so.
Morrison, who believes he was slandered on the tapes, argued that Moloney and McIntyre shouldn't have encouraged people to make claims about what others did as well as what they themselves did, and that they should have been warned the information could be seized and passed to the authorities. McIntyre said they'd been more or less misled by Boston College and that in hindsight yes, they should have sought legal advice before embarking on the project.
Just two comments - for the moment. One, if I'd been doing such interviews, the first thing I'd have checked would have been the legal possibility of anyone else having access to this stuff? It's almost inconceivable that Moloney and McIntyre didn't think of knocking on a very sharp lawyer's door before they started recording.
The second thing is, Moloney and McIntyre really should stop referring to this project as "research". A basic ingredient of research is that the sample you use reflects the larger population; in this case, only those with an anti-Sinn Féin perspective on the Troubles got used. Sorry, chaps. Skewed sample, skewed research. There must be a better word for the Boston project.