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Boston College asks court to toss IRA tapes ruling

BOSTON — Boston College wants a federal appeals court to throw out a ruling that orders the college to turn over audiotaped interviews with former members of the Irish Republican Army, citing the death of a key figure in the legal battle.

In a motion filed Monday with the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, lawyers for Boston College said the death last week of IRA veteran Dolours Price means that she can no longer be the subject of any prosecution by police in Northern Ireland.

The college is asking that a ruling last year by U.S. District Judge William Young ordering the college to turn over interviews with seven other former IRA members be tossed out. The college is also asking that its own appeal of Young’s ruling be dismissed as moot because of Price’s death.

Since 2011, Northern Ireland’s police have been waging a battle with Boston College to get audiotaped interviews of Price describing her IRA career. Authorities want to see if the tapes contain evidence relating to unsolved crimes, particularly the 1972 kidnapping and murder of a Belfast widow, Jean McConville.

The interviews were conducted as part of the “Belfast Project,” an oral history project by Boston College.

In a statement, Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn said Price’s death “should bring a close to the pending case regarding the subpoenas for the confidential oral history materials from the Belfast Project.”

Dunn said the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty on Criminal Matters invoked by the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom “provides that the treaty does not pertain to matters in which the government anticipates that no prosecution will take place. ”

“Given that Dolours Price has died, the University believes that the case should be dismissed,” Dunn said.

Christina DiIorio-Sterling, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, declined to comment. She said prosecutors plan to file a response with the court.