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CONFIDENTIAL January 28, 2002 Dear Tom, I did a quick review of the Burns Oral History project material

on Jan.24, 2002. Here are my observations: 1. The files contain very important information on the early days of the Troubles, the formation and development of the PIRA, and subsequent events up to the Hunger Strikes [it may contain more that I did not have time to see.] What is already collected forms the foundation of a significant historical archive. 2. The material condition of files, discs, and recordings seem very professional. However, I would have to listen to the audio to be sure of this. 3. There is a serious problem with the interviewing technique. The interviewer frequently leads his subjects not only into areas of discussion [which he should], but also into modes of analysis [which he should try to avoid], and occasionally even conclusions [which he must avoid!] Some examples: Q. In my view it was very very nave [this is from interviewer!] Q Is it true to say, as many writers and academics claim, that was one of the significant turning points. [Falls Curfew] Q. I think that what you are trying to do is argue Q. Even in the most functional terms, was it a sledgehammer to crack a nut? Q. They seemed to be incestuous. A. Q. Most volunteers that stayed the course seemed to have that as an objective, I know I did 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. Conclusion: There is much of value here, but before I could offer a professional opinion on the historical merit of the archive I would need to have answers to the following questions: 1. How are the subjects for the interviews chosen/excluded?

2. Does anyone involved in the project have experience/training in oral history collection? If not, why not? 3. The interviewer operates with a clear sense of engagement with the Republican movement. This may cause difficulties with some Republican voices [mainstream]; it clearly be quite inappropriate if there is an intention to expand this project to include Loyalists. Is this the intention? 4. What discussion has taken place to insure access to Republicans still active in the mainstream?