The First Circuit Court of Appeals blocked an order from a lower court judge requiring Boston College to turn over documents pertaining to a former member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army to the United Kingdom.
Based on a treaty with the United States that requires both countries to furnish materials that would aid in criminal inquiries, the United Kingdom had originally subpoenaed the college for the recordings of interviews that former IRA member Dolours Price gave to a Boston College oral history project. British authorities wanted the documents as evidence in their investigations of crimes during the sectarian fight for control of Northern Ireland.
U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young had ordered Boston College to turn over the documents. Though U.S. officials received the documents on Dec. 30, the First Circuit's order to stay parts of Young's decision put a temporary hold on the federal action to submit the documents to British authorities.
The First Circuit ordered the temporary stay until it could hold further hearings on the danger the documents' release would pose to the interviewers.
The First Circuit's decision is reportedly in response to a last-minute plea by two researchers who worked on the project, Anthony McIntyre and Ed Moloney, according to The Boston Globe. Both men argued that releasing the information would endanger the lives of McIntyre and his family, who live in Ireland, and cause political turmoil in Northern Ireland.
"It is my firm opinion that any material produced pursuant to the...subpoenas will open up a hornets' nest which, if kicked, will let loose a horde of vicious insects to do irreparable harm to the peace process in Northern Ireland," Moloney said in an affidavit.
Government officials were given until Jan. 9 to respond to the stay.